HURON — Wednesday evening’s bull riding featured plenty of exciting moments with spills and eight-second rides that had a sizable crowd cheering.
The loudest and most sincere cheers, however, were reserved for the mid-show American Heroes Award ceremony, when Red Wilk and his family brought out two extended golf carts full of veterans onto a platform in the center of the bull riding ring. The veterans were seated and the 18th year of the ceremony began.
Among those honored Wednesday night were Taylor Jans and Milo Kolden, a rare moment when a grandson and grandfather were both honored for their military service at the same time.
Milo served in the Army from March of 1954 until February of 1957, spending a year and four months abroad, primarily in Germany.
He recalls training the “new” German army at the time. “They had all new equipment,” Milo recalled. “All of our stuff was beat up.”
“It was likely the stuff from Korea, as that was just getting over,” he added.
Once Milo returned back to South Dakota, he worked for a year at a Standard station before marrying his wife Janice and beginning life as a farmer.
Taylor currently works as the Beadle County Emergency Management Director and Veterans Service Officer. He’s a graduate of Willow Lake High School and a member of the Army National Guard.
Recently, Taylor returned from his first deployment overseas, serving with the National Guard in Djibouti, Africa, from August of 2020 to July 2021.
Both Taylor and Milo expressed that they were thankful that a program like the American Hero Award ceremony is out there to honor and recognize veterans in the area.
As Milo took in all of the moment, he humbly observed, “This...is really nice.”