Shawano honors Hometown Heroes

Banners featuring select veterans to decorate poles along Main Street
Kevin Passon

Shawano’s hometown heroes will be honored through a new public program created by members of the 2024 Leadership Shawano County class.

Past and present members of the Armed Forces will be recognized on banners that will be hung along Main Street from Elizabeth Street to County Road B from Memorial Day to Veterans Day.

Samantha Sperberg, a member of the leadership class, said presentations for community projects are introduced to each group at the start of their yearlong class.

“Heather Kroll presented this to the group, and we decided to take it to the community,” Sperberg said.

Shawano city officials gave their consent, and Shawano Municipal Utilities employees will hang the banners and brackets on the light poles.

“We have 44 light poles available to use,” Sperberg said. “All of the banners will be double hung, so our 20 banners will only 10 poles this year.”

Sperberg said the group had a goal of 20 banners for this first year.

“We actually have 19 veterans, and we made one general banner to honor all the branches,” she said. “We thought 20 was a good number for our first year, and we hope to grow over the years.”

Each banner is 30 inches by 60 inches and futures the hero’s name, branch of service and military photo.

Around Veteran’s Day, the group plans to hold a ceremony and present the banners to the veterans or their families to keep.

“We hope to partner with the Shawano School District, which always has Veteran’s Day activities,” Sperberg said. “We’d like to be part of that and present the banners to the veterans or their families at that time.”

Honored this year are:

• Raul Beltran Jr., Marines, corporal, Gulf War.

• Henry L. Brener Jr., Army, sergeant, Korean War.

• Kavit L. Beyersdorf, Army, captain, Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan, 2003-04.

• Dennis H. Bohm, Marines.

• Erica L. (Redman) Ensrud, Navy, chief petty officer.

• Crystal R. Guetschow, Michigan Air National Guard, senior master sergeant.

• Griffin Guestschow, Wisconsin National Guard, specialist.

• Floyd C. Hartwig, Army, Korean War, 24th Division.

• Stephen M. Kahlow, Navy, lieutenant, surface warfar officer (nuclear).

• Camden A. Kroll, Air Force.

• Ton E. Kunschke, Navy.

• Jarrett A. Laatsch, Army, sergeant.

• Ross W. Langhurst, Marines, sergeant, Vietnam War 1967-70.

* Phil D. Nelson, Army, staff sergeant, 199th Light Infantry Brigade, Vietnam.

• Ethan Schwitzer, Air Force.

• Gregory J. Senzig, Army.

• Stanley A. Steenbock, Army, chief warrant officer 4, Vietnam War.

• Richard L. Steinburg, Army, Army Reserve.

• Harry R. West, Air Force.

Any veteran who served in the U.S. Armed Forces, including Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Space Force, National Guard or Reserves, is eligible. This includes any active service member or honorably discharged veteran. The men and women must currently live or have lived in the area (54166 ZIP Code).

“We work with Paul Pionke (Shawano County Veterans Service Office) to vet the nominees, to make sure they are active duty or honorably discharged, and that they lived in the 54166 ZIP Code,” Sperberg said.

Anyone can be a nominee, including the veteran.

Also, banner sponsorships are always accepted. Sponsors can include the nominee, his or her family, businesses, nonprofit groups or any individual.

Funds collected cover the cost of the banners and expenses to get this new program running. Any extra funds will be donated to local veteran organizations.

Sperberg said the vetting process and the making of the banners takes about two months. The nominee or next of kin must also approve the final banner.

Leadership Shawano County classmates joining Kroll in this community project are Raul Beltran, Kayla Brendemuehl, Annelies Hartwig, Jacob Hartwig, Krystal Johnson, Laura Mayer, Kayla Prichard, Sperberg and Ashley Steenbock.

To nominate a veteran, sign on as a sponsor or to get more information, visit or email