(Editor's note: This special Veterans Day coverage is complemented by 40 photographs taken at various ceremonies throughout the Quad Cities region.)

ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- Army Sustainment Command Soldiers fanned out across western Illinois and eastern Iowa during the Veterans Day weekend, paying tribute to area veterans.

In an all-out community outreach effort, ASC Soldiers gave speeches, conducted presentations and participated in parades and memorial services while representing the command and the Army.


Rain could not dampen the spirits of the people of West Branch, Iowa, as about 300 people crowded into the its small municipal building to commemorate Veterans Day and the unveiling of the town's new Veterans monument Nov. 11.

Sgt. Maj. Duane Strong, Distribution Management Center, ASC, was the featured speaker at the West Branch, Veterans Day commemoration and unveiling of the city's new memorial wall.

The ceremony included the posting and retiring of the colors, patriotic music by the A Cafellas, a memorial wreath laying by Ronald Ellyson and Bruce Jeffries, and remarks by West Branch Mayor Donald Kessler. After the indoor ceremony, many of the attendees braved the rain to see the monument for the first time.

The black granite wall that holds the names of the city's veterans, which includes a section for those who left for war but did not come home, was a five-year labor of love for the Bickford family.

The idea for the monument came from Norman and Patricia Bickford and Phyllis Sondergard, said daughter Lisa Bickford.

The Bickfords bought an office building on Main Street and tore it down to make room for the park. The couple and a group of volunteers then set about raising funds for a tribute to those who served in the Armed Forces.

The monument was finally completed and put in place days before the ceremony, with a tarp covering it until Veterans Day.

During the ceremony, the Bickfords and Sondergard were invited to the podium to be honored for their work on the monument.


On Nov. 12, winter moved into the area with temperatures plunging into the 20s.

At Goose Lake, Iowa, located about 45 miles northeast of the Quad Cities, a Veterans Day program was held at the Northeast High School auditorium.

Col. Bradley White, deputy director of Operations, Field Support, ASC, was the guest speaker. He spoke on the themes of lifetime soldiering, ensuring success for veterans, and the nationwide effort to make this happen.

White, a native of Council Bluffs, Iowa, located on the western border of the state, read a quote from President John F. Kennedy as part of his speech: " 'As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.' "

Prior to White speaking, former Army Cpl. Bob Flemming, 89, a World War II veteran, was recognized and honored for his service from 1943-46. Flemming served as a parts specialist for tanks and rifles in the United States.

Junior Miller, Miles American Legion adjutant, also asked attendees to remember Marine Cpl. Zach Reiff, a resident of Preston, Iowa, who was 22 years old when he died three days after being wounded in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan on Nov. 18, 2011. It was his second deployment.

The day before Reiff's death, he was named "Noncommissioned Officer of the Quarter" of his unit, and was placed on a promotion list to sergeant.

Music for the program was provided by the Northeast High School Band and Choir performing the "Star Spangled Banner" and "Homeward Bound."

The remembrance concluded with a PowerPoint presentation featuring Taylor Morris, a Navy service member who became a quadruple amputee resulting from his duty as an explosive ordinance disposal technician in Afghanistan. Morris is from Cedar Falls, Iowa. The incident occurred this May during his first deployment to Afghanistan.

The Miles and Sabula American Legions provided honor guards. Afterward, a luncheon was held at the Miles American Legion Spencer-Cook Post 677.


Brig. Gen. Duane Gamble, deputy commanding general, ASC, spoke during the City of Silvis Veterans Day event in Silvis, Ill., Nov. 12.

Other speakers included U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling, Silvis Mayor William Fox, former Marine Corps veteran Robert Neal, and Navy veteran Brian Munos.

The event honored all veterans, while paying particular tribute to eight local servicemen who were killed during World War II and the Korean War.

The Mexican-American Veterans Association played Taps and provided a 21-gun salute. Opera singer Tonio Dipaolo performed patriotic songs throughout the ceremony.


Col. Scott D. Lofreddo, chief of staff, ASC, spoke to a gathering of veterans, family, and friends at American Legion Post 246 in Moline, Ill., Nov. 11.

The event was moved inside the legion because of inclement weather where Lofreddo spoke of the proud tradition of military service and how veterans have made the U.S. the greatest country in the world.

Following Lofreddo's remarks, the assembly moved outside where an American Legion honor guard fired a 21-gun salute and Taps was played to honor those veterans that have paid the ultimate sacrifice.


Col. Victor Harmon, commander, ASC Distribution Management Center, spoke during the Hero Street USA Veterans Day event in Silvis, Ill., Nov. 11.

Other speakers included Silvis Mayor William Fox, State Sen. Mike Jacobs, Master Chief Petty Officer Miguel Rodriguez, Navy Training Center, Great Lakes, Ill., and U.S. Rep. - elect, Cheri Bustos, also attended the event.

The event honored all veterans, while paying particular tribute to eight local servicemen who were killed during World War II and the Korean War. The Mexican-American Veterans Association played Taps and provided a 21-gun salute prior to a wreath-laying by Tony Soliz, president of the Hero Street Monument Committee.


Despite a driving rain, more than 100 people gathered at Rock Island National Cemetery on Rock Island Arsenal to pay tribute to veterans Nov. 11. Brig. Gen. John F. Wharton, commanding general, ASC, served as the keynote speaker for the event.

"We are here to honor our veterans for their strength, courage and dedication, to thank them for the sacrifices they made on behalf of our nation, and for leaving us a lasting legacy of strength and service," Wharton told the rain soaked audience. "We are here to shine a spotlight on our veterans, who act as examples of citizenship, patriotism and commitment to a higher cause that we all should follow. We also remember the veterans who, as the memorials and gravesites in this cemetery tell us, went into combat and never came back. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we are here to remind ourselves of our commitment to our veterans, to renew that commitment, and to put that commitment into action by providing veterans with real, tangible support and assistance.

"No other community does this better than the Quad Cities," Wharton added. "I've been in the military for 30 years, moved more than 20 times, and served in many units. I have never seen the kind of support that you provide the veterans in your midst. From the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts, to the Honor Flights for our World War II and Korean War veterans, to the respect provided to our fallen Soldiers by the Patriot Guard, your support is unsurpassed."

Douglas Ledbetter, director of the Rock Island National Cemetery, served as master of ceremonies. Chaplain (Maj.) L. Scott Fluegel, Joint Munitions Command, provided the invocation and benediction. U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling, provided remarks. The honor salute and Taps were provided by the Moline American Legion Post 246 and Rachel Hoffman sang the national anthem.


At the Bettendorf Veterans Memorial Park Nov. 11, the 2 p.m. ceremony was moved under a gazebo because of continuous rain that started just a few minutes before. But the rain could not dampen the spirit of this holiday.

Command Sgt. Maj. James E. Spencer, command sergeant major, ASC, delivered the keynote speech highlighting the need to help veterans, especially those in the younger age groups returning from operations in Southwest Asia.

Spencer addressed the War on Terror, the name given to the ensuing military operations following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

Despite the success of fighting in Iraq and still in Afghanistan, "… we're losing more Soldiers to suicide than to combat operations…" this year, Spencer said.

Ceremony sponsors were the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Vietnam Veterans of America. The flag detail was provided by the Patriot Guard Riders, with the honor guard and firing squad conducted by the American Legion Post 154 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9128.

Additionally, 43 veterans from Scott County killed in Vietnam were individually recognized. Several references were cited throughout the ceremony citing 2012 as the 50th anniversary of the beginning of American involvement in Vietnam.

Spencer also assisted Bettendorf Mayor Robert Gallagher Jr., and David Woods, Scott County director of Veterans Affairs, in a wreath-laying to honor all veterans of the United States.


About 50 people braved the 25-degree temperature at the annual Veterans Day program in East Moline, Ill., Nov. 12. The guest speaker for the event was Col. Robin C. Moralez, chief of ASC's Command Operations and Information Center.

During her remarks, Moralez stressed the importance of helping veterans transition to civilian life and remember those who gave their lives in service to the nation.

East Moline Mayor John Thodos and Robert Baecke, American Legion Post 227 commander, were among those in attendance at the 9th Street Commons Park.


Lt. Col. Daniel M. Swanson, chief, Synchronization & Integration Cell, ASC, was the featured speaker at the Orion, Ill., Veterans Day commemoration Nov. 11.

Swanson talked about how the Orion schools prepared him for Army life having spent his formative years in the area, and thanked the community for teaching him about adjusting to change.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 143 and Orion American Legion Post 255 presented the colors.

The Orion Community Band performed a medley of military songs. Darrel Muhleman, VFW Post 143, gave a short speech honoring 93-year-old Glen Fair, a World War II Army veteran who holds the distinction of being the oldest member of American Legion Post 255.


First Sgt. Luther Kirby, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, ASC, was the featured speaker at the Trinity Lutheran School Veterans Day commemoration in Davenport, Iowa, Nov. 12.

A Marine Corps honor guard presented the colors. The students sang several songs and a few read their winning essays.

Kirby showed a joint services video and then discussed what a veteran is, explaining they come in all shapes and sizes, that they can be in the Army like him; they could be former Marines, Sailors, Airmen or Coast Guardsmen. He also said the great thing about the United States is that no once forced him to put on the uniform; it was something he volunteered to do.


Capt. James K. Mick, commander, HHC, ASC, was the keynote speaker at the Riverdale Heights Elementary School Veterans Day commemoration in Bettendorf, Iowa, Nov. 12.

The title of the school's presentation was "A Special Tribute to our Brave."

More than 200 students, faculty members, and parents watched a joint services video. Mick then spoke about why the services wear different uniforms, what they mean, what the flag symbolizes, why it should be respected, and how the military serves our nation.

Boy Scout Troops 24 and troop 89 presented the colors while the audience recited the Pledge of Allegiance. The Riverdale Heights Harmonics sang several patriotic songs. Trumpeters from the Riverdale Heights 6th Grade Band played Taps to close the event.