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Christmas on Indian Lore

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Veteran's Stories

We have folks that request purchasing a tree for a veteran or soldier’s family now serving. Here are their stories.

-The Kramers

Our story started when Scott went to basic training at Ft. Benning, GA in 2004. We were high school sweethearts and spent time writing letters and talking on the phone when we could. I was finishing up my first year of college, and when Scott returned from basic he was sent on his first deployment to the middle east with A-Co 1-128th INF BN. He was gone for 18 months and back then communication was hand written letters every other week, emails and phone calls once a month. During this time he developed a brotherhood with some incredible people and although we were apart, it was only in distance and not in heart. We were married in 2008. With continued training he was deployed for a second time in 2009/2010 for 12 months (this time the phone calls were weekly.). It was during this tour that he decided to switch from infantry to aviation. In 2011 we went to Ft. Rucker, AL where after a year and a half of training he became a Blackhawk pilot. We started our family on our return back to Wisconsin. Our daughter was born in 2013. Scott's third deployment was in 2015- and thanks to technology we were able to communicate fairly often. It was helpful with having a little one - for ALL of us. We had our son in 2017. Scott loves his job as an instructor pilot here in West Bend - and we really appreciate the support this community offers. He has gone on a few hurricane relief missions, and travels to courses to gain more experience. We enjoy this military lifestyle, the friendships we get to make, and the honor it is to serve. Deployments are never ideal, but they are doable. We love celebrating our family traditions, new or old and cherish the memories that go along with them. Thank you to Christmas on Indian Lore for helping make our Christmas tree shopping so memorable.
The Kramers

-Matt, Beckey, Olivia, Evalyn, Sawyer, & Spencer Dourn

It was November 15th, 2017 and a facebook message request appeared from Jackie with Christmas on Indian Lore. I read the message and chills of joy and amazement filled my body that someone out there donated a "real" tree and wreath to our family for my husband's military service. I say "real" tree because we have never had a "real" tree in our home and let me tell you we will never go back to artificial! Not only did we love the smell and the looks, the experience, and now to be tradition at Christmas On Indian Lore that we gave our 4 young children was absolutely amazing.
What is Our Military Story…
16 years ago sitting around a kitchen table as boyfriend & girlfriend our military life was about to begin. Hand written letters & pay phone calls is how we pushed through being separated during basic training & individual training with Matt out on the east coast. Matt and I married in 2007 while both of us were in full time college and work. Several years of continual training and weeks apart throughout led us to a life change in 2013 when we moved our family of 4 to Fort Rucker Alabama to support Matt at flight school to become a Blackhawk pilot. We loved the beaches, pools, & military way of living on an army base, but along with the fun were hours of studying, check rides, survival school, & flying for Matt. After 2 years Matt became a Blackhawk pilot and we moved our family 1,000 miles back to Farmington WI on a -14 degree day. We were taking it day by day getting back acclimated to the area with our oldest daughter starting as the "new girl" half with through the school year, our younger daughter attending daycare and our third baby on the way. If that wasn't enough to think about… the word DEPLOYMENT was often discussed between Matt & I as he would be departing and heading overseas in May 2015 which is before our baby boy was expected to be born. Our Sawyer wanted to meet his daddy before he deployed and decided to arrive premature resulting in NICU stay at Children's Hospital where Matt and I would visit him daily until the day came that Matt kissed his baby boy and said see you again little man and at that moment I knew I needed to be stronger than I ever thought I could be. Olivia (4), Evalyn (3), and Sawyer (8 days & still in NICU) needed me more than ever. Matt missed his son coming home at 15 days old, birthdays, anniversaries and school concerts. Eight months went by with several tears, facetime calls, fears/anxiety from the kids of mommy going to leave too, counseling, happiness when packages came, and the best CHRISTMAS GIFT ever was Daddy coming home on Dec 23rd. We greeted Matt at the airport with emotions of excitement from the kids and butterflies in my stomach of true love. Since that deployment we added one more baby boy to our family of 6. Hurricane missions, high altitude training in CO, & weekly flying is our current military lifestyle. Matt has been honored with Hero of the Game (at miller park), USO HERO of WI in 2017, and most recently has earned his Pilot in Command title. With future deployment on the horizon we continue to make memories & build traditions as we did last year experience of our first "Real" Christmas Tree from Christmas on Indian Lore. Thank you to all those that have served and continue to serve and we could not be more thankful for this local Christmas Miracle that has been given to us.
With much Love
Matt, Beckey, Olivia, Evalyn, Sawyer, & Spencer Dourn

-Bill Polachek
USN Veteran
Sep. 1987-Oct. 1995

Ok, so in December of 2017, I experienced one of the best Christmas' I've ever had. My mother came to visit me and my family from Dallas TX. My wife and I kinda started a tradition to buy a tree for my two adult sons each year. This year we decided to go to this Indian Lore Tree Farm for the first time. The evening we showed up there couldn't have been more perfect, so I thought. There was snow on the ground, a chill in the air, and a bonfire to walk up to and warm up. It was my wife, my mother, my two boys and their girlfriends, the entire family. We start the search for the perfect tree, and it didn't take long to pick one out. This lady walks up to me and asks me if I was a veteran. I had forgotten I was actually wearing my Navy hat. So I answered plainly, " yes I am". The then states, " well then that tree you picked is free". I kinda paused and then had to ask her to repeat herself. I didn't realize she was one of the owners, so I thought it was just somebody fooling around. She then puts her arm around my mother and explained who she was, that someone made a donation to her to give to the next veteran that buys a tree. Now, this is the perfect Christmas with my family. I couldn't believe it. I looked over at my mother, and she's looking at me with tears rolling down her cheeks, then my wife, then both my boys girlfriends. Yea, I lost it. I have never felt so grateful than in that moment. Thank you Jackie and your staff. You provided a memory for me and my family that we will never forget. We look forward to coming back to continue a new family tradition with you. Now for my military story.

When I was a young teenager, I knew I wanted to be an aviation mechanic. By the time I was a sophomore in high school, I decided I wanted to work on F-14 Tomcats. I joined the Navy when I was still a senior in high school under what was known as the delayed entry program, DEP. I was able to get a guarantee that I would go to school for aviation mechanics when I signed up. I went to boot camp in Great Lakes, IL. Upon graduation of boot camp, I was handed orders for my aviation school in Millington, TN., and then I was to report to my "F-14" squadron in Oceana, VA. I did it! I was on my way to my dream job. After school, I reported to VF-102 Diamondbacks in VA. It was only 3 months later when I deployed on my first cruise with my squadron aboard the USS America, CV-66. At first, I was devastated at the fact I would be away from home and at sea for at least 6 months, not to mention doing one of the most dangerous jobs in the world working on the flight deck of a carrier. I soon learned how fast time actually flies while underway. We did a non typical cruise called a Med-IO, which means not only were we sailing all over the Mediterranean, but we also sailed through the Suez Canal into the Indian Ocean, where we would head south to cross the equator and participate in a long lived tradition of any sailor who crosses the equator. Yes, it's real! There is a long lived tradition amongst sailors to be initiated as what's called a Shellback. It is two days of things being done to you that, well, let's just say that they are not things you would be proud to write to your mother about. But yet, it is considered a high honor to survive it among your crew. While in the Med, we hit several exotic ports, including, the French Riviera, Izmir Turkey, and one of my favorites, Palma Mallorca. A buddy of mine and I got off in Palma and started exploring the area. We came across this small pub, owned by a British couple. We went in for a "beverage", and were greeted by the nicest couple we had ever met. We found ourselves being catered with food, drink and generous hospitality. We became very good friends and pen pals after that. I got a letter from them every week for months. Fortunately we pulled into that port 7 more times, and we always had good friends and a place to stay through them. I guess you could say, they became our at sea family. We continued to communicate well after we got home from that cruise. About six months later, we geared up and went out on another deployment called a NATO cruise. It is two months in the North Atlantic doing cold weather ops. And as it is going through the equator, so is it crossing the Arctic circle where you go through the same hell to earn what's called initiation as a "Blue Nose". Not many sailors get the opportunity to acquire both Shellback and Blue Nose. In 1991, all our training and work ups were called into action as Operation Desert Storm landed in our laps. We loaded up, and headed across the Atlantic with barely enough time to say goodbye to our family and friends. I remember the day of the first strike. My crew and I were ordered on deck with the task of making every aircraft ready to go on a moment's notice. We spent the entire day just constantly going over our fighters to make sure everything was serviced and all support equipment necessary to start these things were hooked up and ready to go. Finally, in the early evening, that sound we had heard hundreds of times before for drills was now going off for real. The ring of "general quarters, man your battle stations" rang throughout the ship. Within seconds, pilots and crew started emerging from below onto the deck, like hundreds of Army ants rushing out of their nest. Within twenty minutes, 60 aircraft were in the air and on their way to do what they were made for. I could not believe how much it seemed like just a giant machine working in such precision. It came clear why we had to go through so much repetitive training that once seemed so tedious. I think what was so eerie to me was watching our birds leave fully armed with guns, missiles and bombs, and come back empty and black from soot, flying through the fires. That's when it became real for me. Most of the strikes were at night, and I didn't realize how close we actually were, until I could look out over the water to see what looked like a huge lightning storm from one end of the horizon to the other, only it wasn't lightning. I could literally smell the war from sea. We stayed engaged for nine months with no port of calls. Not that we were bothered by that too much. There was so much adrenaline and activity that it wasn't really even thought about until we found out we were going home. And we did hit a port on the way home for a little R and R. Some place I would have never ever thought I would have ever gone. We pulled into Hurghada Egypt. This is by far, the most spiritual, cultural place I have ever been. I was able to get on a tour that took us to several of the ancient temples and to the Valley of the Kings, where I was able to enter several ancient tombs. WHAT AN EXPERIENCE OF A LIFETIME! I feel truly blessed to have been able to experience the things I've done, and see the places I've seen. I have been to 38 different countries, thanks to the Navy. All are beautiful in there own way, but still, they are not The United States of America. I love the country I live in, and I loved fighting for it! I am truly grateful for All who have supported.