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Heroes of Neenah

Posted on by Future Neenah

On Friday April, 8 2016 the Arete Academy of Neenah High School will be hosting an event highlighting our Neenah community heroes. Although there are many heroes in our community, only two were elected for their great endeavors this year.

One of our chosen heroes is Eileen McCoy. After talking to Eileen on the phone, she stated that she wouldn’t call just herself a hero or an influential figure of Neenah, but the whole team of the Neenah Park and Recreation. They have a huge impact on the community through their work.  For around 37 years Eileen has seen the community grow into a loving and diverse family. She absolutely loves making Neenah an exceptional place to live, and being able to see families have fun and enjoy all the programs and parks we have to offer. Even after Eileen retires she is planning on helping with projects around the clock, to better our city and its healthy being.  A current project the Park and Recreation is working on is completing the trestle trail loop.  At the end of this project people will be able to walk, bike, and run around Little Lake Butte Des Morts. For those 37 years in her line of work her passion and excellence has changed Neenah to a great urban area. This reason is why we are proud to call her a Hero of Neenah!  Thank You, Eileen McCoy for your hard work and commitment to our wondrous community!



— Heroes of Neenah Article by NHS Student Jacob Theisen

There are heroes all around us. Heroes that step up and go the extra mile to do what is right for everyone. Heroes that we can all look up to and be inspired by. Unfortunately, a lot of our heroes are taken from us too soon. Elmer Burr was one of those men. Elmer Burr was born May 11th, in Neenah Wisconsin, and graduated from Menasha High School in 1926. The attack of Pearl Harbor was the precursor to Burr’s entering of the war. He entered a three year long war in New Guinea with Company I, 127th Infantry Regiment, 32nd Infantry Division also known as the “les terribles” referring to its fortitude in advancing over terrain others could not. The 32nd then adopted its shoulder patch; a line shot through with a red arrow, to signify its tenacity in piercing the enemy line. It then became known as the “Red Arrow Division”. By December 24, 1942, he was serving as a first sergeant in the company at the village of Buna. On that day, he smothered the blast of an enemy-thrown hand grenade with his body, sacrificing himself to protect those around him, including his commanding officer. He suffered severe wounds to his abdomen and died in a field hospital the next day. Burr, age 34 at his death, was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in his hometown of Neenah and has a memorial in Menasha.

“Dear Friend;

I received a call this afternoon from my sister Menasha in which she asked if I could attend the program in honor of your husband.

I knew Elmer in Company I, and was in action with him in the Buna Campaign. We were both hit on the same day and hour. I owe Sgt. Burr very much and cannot express my feelings for him in words. I had been hit by a machine gun seven times and also by a grenade. You can imagine my helpless condition at the time and my need of assistance. Captain Michael Ustruck crawled out to drag me back in. I was a heavy burden to drag back so it required much time. Sergeant Burr guessed something was wrong so he also crawled out to find out the delay. He had to go through a mortar and artillery barrage but he got to us safely. He and the Captain carried me to a safer area in rear of the lines. So you see his bravery and loyalty was one of the chief reasons why I am here today to tell about it. I understand that about fifteen minutes later he, the Captain and some other fellow officer were pinned down in a shell hole by a Jap machine gunner. The Jap, seeing he couldn’t get them that way, lobbed in a hand grenade. Sergeant Burr knew instantly that it would be fatal to all of them so He dropped on the grenade. He sacrificed his life to save his comrades. I believe it was habit of his to save lives, disregarding his own. He could not have died more bravely. I hope you are as brave about this loss as he was in battle.


Lieutenant Francis Young
Percy Jones Hospital
Battle Creek, Mich.”

 For this act of heroism, Elmer J. Burr was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor ten months later, on October 11, 1943. The words “the best soldier I have ever known” were used by the men he served next to in the face of battle. Elmer showed acts of conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty while serving with Company l.

Elmer Burr was an extraordinary man that did extraordinary things for this country. A lot of people owe their lives to the courageous acts Mr. Burr displayed. He truly is a hero we can all look up to and learn from. We all thank you for your service.burr_bio.jpg

— Heroes of Neenah Article by NHS Student Ben Makowski


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