Donald Helmbrecht of Victor was presented with the Montana Congressional Veterans Commendation last week by U.S. Congressman Greg Gianforte. The award, Gianforte said, was for Helmbrecht’s “service to his country and his dedication to veteran causes in his community” and took place in the Ravalli County Commissioners’ meeting room in Hamilton last Wednesday, January 22.
Gianforte said that the veteran’s award program reached out to veterans in the Hamilton community and that Helmbrecht was nominated by his peers for the award. Along with the commendation, Gianforte presented Helmbrecht with the flag that was flown in his honor over the U.S. Capital on Veterans Day this year.
Helmbrecht volunteered for service in the U.S. Army in 1970 and served a couple of years in combat in Vietnam. After that he was stationed for a year in Berlin, Germany. The Berlin Wall was still up at the time. He also met and married the love of his life, Arlene, while serving there. The couple just celebrated their 40th anniversary in early January. From Berlin he went on to serve three years at Check Point Charlie in Korea. In all he served in the US Army for just under seven years. He received multiple commendations during his military service, including the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.
Gianforte noted that Helmbrecht’s dedication to his country and to his fellow veterans continued after his years of service. He now serves on the American Legion Honor Guard with Corvallis Post 91 where he helps maintain the American Legion roadway cross program as well as a veterans cross program. Helmbrecht is also an active volunteer in his church and for many other community activities.
Upon receiving the award and the flag Helmbrecht said, “This is certainly a big surprise, I didn’t expect this. I am certainly honored.” He said it was humbling but that it was also nice to be recognized.
“I am very proud of him and his years of service,” said his wife, Arlene, “both his military service and now that that’s over his service to the community.
“We are caring people,” she said, “so now we help where we can.”