FOX VALLEY AREA REGIONAL NEWS: Calumet County, Fond du Lac County, Outagamie County, Winnebago County

Hometown Hero: Jim Otto restores Veteran’s Day celebrations to small town more than 20 years ago

Hometown Heroes

BRANDON, Wis. (WFRV) – “Without the veterans, where would we be? That’s basically what it amounts to.”

Brandon’s Jim Otto has lived his entire life with that sentiment in mind, ever since he enlisted in the Wisconsin National Guard back in 1948.

From there, he joined the Air Force in 1951.

“The military aspect of it has always kind of been part of my (life)- I like the precision of what they do, and the quality and the preparations that go with that type of a career and I just felt that would be a good start for me and it continued on up to this day,” said Otto.

Precision was exactly what Otto’s job entailed through Texas, Colorado, and Utah until 1957.

“My Air Force duties were what they called ‘APG’30 gun-laying system.’ We worked on all of the fighter aircraft and we produced the continuity of the radar, the gun site, and the weapon itself so that when the pilot pulled the trigger. it went exactly where it was supposed to go,” he said.

Otto looks back with fondness on his service, and the brothers he made along the way.

“A very vivid experience and it was one where you made so many friends, you traveled a lot. It was the condition where it turned you from a young boy into a young man and into the rest of your life. It’s a very good platform to start with,” Otto said.

It was Veteran’s Day weekend of 1997 along Main Street in downtown Brandon when Otto and his wife noticed a sign that said there would be no Veteran’s Day parade that year. But thanks to Otto, there has been a Veteran’s Day Celebration in Otto every year since.

“They just didn’t have the clientele or the personnel to come up with a fitting program,.so we stepped in and took over,” he said.

Otto still works tirelessly with the American Legion, coordinating Veteran’s Day school programs and celebrations in the town of Brandon. But the message echos much farther.

“I think it’s more important to the people once they understand the role and dedication and commitment of young men and women in our military history right now and going way back to George Washington; Tattered clothes, freezing to death and hoping that tomorrow would be a better day and some of them never lived until tomorrow,” said Otto.

“It just gives me the pride to be a part of it and put on the uniform, and dress sharp and go through the procedures of putting on a veteran’s image that everyone can look up to,” he said.

Have someone you’d like to nominate for Hometown Hero? Let us know below!

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