Applications are being accepted for the inaugural display of Military Hometown Heroes street banners, to be featured in Downtown Topeka from Sept. 11 to Nov. 11, 2017.
Topeka’s Military Hometown Heroes banner program connects the Capital City with other communities in Kansas and across the nation in creating a vibrant tribute for our neighbors who are serving, or have served in the armed forces of the United States.
“This is good for Topeka. It’s a win-win for all of us,” said Scott Gales, president of the Military Relations Council of the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce. “The banners will create a sense of familiarity. These heroes are our neighbors, friends and relatives.”
Spearheaded by the Military Veteran Project, the banner program also is made possible with support from the Military Relations Council, Visit Topeka and Downtown Topeka, Inc.
“"We wanted to give our community a way to honor and pay tribute to our local veterans and giving loved ones a way to show their appreciation for their veterans service through the Military Hometown Heroes of Topeka,” said Melissa Jarboe, founder of the Military Veteran Project, a volunteer-driven nonprofit focused on prevention of military suicide through research and treatment. MVP is based in Topeka. “We are happy to be able to partner with Downtown Topeka Inc, chamber of commerce and Visit Topeka on this community project.”
Each 24” by 72” banner includes a portrait of the service member, their name, rank, branch of service and a white, blue or gold star to signify an honorably discharged veteran, a currently serving service member, or those who died in the line of duty, respectively. The honoree must be or have been a Topeka resident.
The first 68 banners will appear on Kansas Avenue in Downtown Topeka between Patriot Day and Veterans Day. The program may be expanded to other areas of the community. Each banner will cost approximately $200, including production, installation and removal. The fee can be paid at the time of application. Donations also are being accepted by the Military Veterans Project.
One of those banners will feature Army National Guard LTC Anthony “Tony” Randall. His wife, Jenalea Randall, is a member of the Military Relations Council and spoke about the program this week. Recognition of Topeka’s Hometown Heroes will remind all of us that our freedom requires action, she said.
In the case of LTC Randall, who served stateside after Hurricane Katrina and earned a Bronze Star for his service in Iraq, recognizing him with a banner will allow his friends and family to remember his love and commitment – to each of them and his country. LTC Randall was serving as Chief Environmental Officer for the Kansas Army National Guard when he died of brain cancer in 2014.
“Each community has their own approach to this,” Randall said of recognition for veterans and active service members. “I’m glad we will be able to honor Tony and his service in a way Topekans can see.”
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Shaun P. Covington:
Sgt. Shaun P. Covington lost his battle on March 21, 2016, at the age of 25.
Shaun was born October 20, 1990 in Washington, DC. Sgt. Covington was a signal support non-commissioned officer assigned to 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team at Fort Riley, Kansas. Sgt. Covington arrived at Fort Riley in February 2013. He was deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from April 2011 through April 2012 and Operation Inherent Resolve from June 2014 to March 2015.
Aimee A. Filbeck:
SGT Aimee Alleene Filbeck lost her battle on June 20, 2016 at the age of 39.
SGT Aimee Alleene Filbeck was born March 30, 1977 in Memphis, Tennessee. She graduated from North Little Rock High School. In 1995, she moved to Branson, Missouri where she began working as a contract hotel manager and also served on the Lodging Association Board of Directors for many years.
In 2009, SGT Filbeck entered the United States Army and served her country faithfully. She was 1st in everything and earned several awards and commendations. SGT Filbeck was stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. In 2015, SGT Filbeck was inducted into SGT Morales Club while deployed in Kosovo. SGT Filbeck was team sergeant for the 763rd EOD Co.
In her spare time, SGT Filbeck enjoyed watching television with her husband and vacationing together. She enjoyed going to the beach and also the shooting range. Most importantly, she loved her family and enjoyed spending time with them.
Brian S. Mancini:
SFC Brian Scott Mancini lost his battle on March 7, 2017, at the age of 38.
Brian was a medically retired Sergeant First Class, Combat Wounded Veteran who served as a Combat Medic with two tours in Baghdad, Iraq. He served over 12 years of Military Service in the United States Army. He was the recipient of two Purple Hearts, the Combat Action Badge, Combat Medical Badge, Air Assault Badge and Flight Medic Badge. He was medically retried in April of 2011 and returned to work in the community where he was born. Brian was a proud Phoenix native and enjoyed volunteering and advocating for healthier Veterans care options and transitional needs, and was the founder of the Honor House. He enjoyed spending time with his family, friends and Fly Fishing