MENASHA, Wis. (WFRV) There’s a hidden gem on Doty Island that many throughout northeast Wisconsin may not have visited, or even heard of. A patriotic plot of land contains a small pathway lined with memorials that honors veterans in the area for their service to our country.
It also recognizes two men from Menasha who earned our nation’s highest military award – the Medal of Honor.
“The people are really happy that it’s out here,” said David Mix, Commander for VFW Post 2126. “It’s nice to have a place to honor veterans.”
Mix is talking about the ‘Isle of Valor.’ Dedicated in 2007, the site was made possible through a partnership with the post and the city. Mix is an Army veteran who served a tour overseas during the Vietnam War, and the Isle of Valor recognizes other vets throughout the Fox Cities like himself.
“We can put whatever we want out here, but everything has to be okay-ed through the city,” Mix added. “We can’t just bring something out here.”
The post has added and upgraded different portions of the Isle over the years. One part on the main bridge contains three different plaques with the names of soldiers from Menasha who died during the WWI, WWII and the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
There’s also a handful of benches donated by the public for visitors to sit down and take in the site. Donated flag poles representing each branch of military also line the pathway.
“Every year when we have our Armed Forces Day, these flags come down [and] new flags go up,” Mix said.
A veterans memorial that once stood outside the library was moved over to the Isle a few years ago. The area includes bricks with the names of local veterans who are still around, or have since passed.
“There’s [veterans from] Neenah, Menasha, Oshkosh,” Mix said, noting that the veterans don’t necessarily have to be from Menasha. “If you want to put one out here, that’s fine.”
When you wander down the path further and head towards the woods, you’ll find the largest part of the Isle of Valor that contains a significant part of local history.
There’s only two communities in the entire country that have had multiple residents earn the Medal of Honor. Pueblo, Colorado, and Menasha, Wisconsin. Two men from the area who earned that prestigious award are recognized with plaques.
The first is Specialist Fourth Class Kenneth Stumpf. During the Vietnam War, he made three trips under enemy fire to carry, on his back, three wounded members of his squad to safety.
1st Sergeant Elmer Burr covered his body with an enemy grenade to save his commanding officer and others back in 1942 on the Island of New Guinea.
The state recognized the Isle of Valor as a “Wisconsin Historical Marker” in 2016, and it continues to grow today.
“To honor the veterans that lost their lives, and the ones that are still here, and the ones that go and come back,” Mix said. “They can still come here and call this place a home.”
You can visit the Isle of Valor for yourself at 640 Keyes Street, right behind the Menasha Historical Society.