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Groninger scholarship winners present meaningful essays

By David Stoltz, Branson Globe Correspondent

Winners of the Lt. Col. William G. Groninger Scholarship presented their winning essays to the members of the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) Chapter 913 at a special meeting Tuesday night, June 2, at the Hamner Variety Theater.

Presenting their winning essays were Ben Walworth, Garrett Wicker and Rae Woods. Each receive a $750 scholarship for their continued education. All three are students at Branson High School.

From left: Bob Sarver, Scholarship Chairman; Benjamin Walworth, Rea Woods, Garrett Wicker, Paula Shields, Scholarship Co-Chairperson; and Bruce Greeno, Outgoing VVA 913 President. Walworth’s winning essay is printed in this issue. (Branson Globe photo)

The scholarship honors the memory of Lt. Col William G. Groninger, a 20-year Air Force veteran who flew more than 100 missions over North Vietnam, and then during the Cold War flew over Russia and Cuba. He spent many years working to ensure veterans were honored and appreciated. Past president of the VVA 913 from 2006-2010, he received the Bridge Builders Award for his focus on building an education bridge between veterans and students by having military heroes interact with students through assemblies and class visits. He was posthumously named VVA 913 Member of the Year in 2012. The scholarship was instituted in his memory.

Criteria for the scholarship is two-part: First was a two-part essay, with the first part entitled, “In your own words, give the history of the oath of enlistment given to each member of the armed services as they are sworn in to serve our country.” The second part is entitled, “Break down each segment of the oath and explain what it means to you.”

Normally, the second criteria included a personal interview with the committee and candidate, but because of the Covid-19 concern, the interviews were not held and instead applications were based on the essay content.

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