For the first time, the Wisconsin Army National Guard Hall of Honor will induct three Medal of Honor recipients alongside two retired warrant officers recognized for their significant contributions to the organization.
The Medal of Honor recipients include:
Sgt. Kenneth Gruennert, a member of Company L, 1st Battalion, 127th Infantry Regiment, for his actions on Dec. 24, 1942 near Buna, New Guinea. Gruennert was second in command of a platoon tasked with breaching the enemy line and reaching the beach to split the enemy position. When the platoon encountered two hostile enemy fighting positions, Gruennert advanced alone on one position and put it out of action with hand grenades and rifle fire. Sustaining a serious shoulder injury, Gruennert bandaged his wound and, under extremely heavy fire, advanced on the second enemy fighting position. He forced the enemy from the position with hand grenades, but was killed by enemy sniper fire. His inspiring actions cleared the way for his platoon to attain the beach.
Staff Sgt. Gerald Endl, of the 32nd Infantry Division's 128th Infantry Regiment, for his actions on July 11, 1944 near Anamo, New Guinea. Endl was in the lead platoon of a company advancing along a jungle trail when the unit encountered an enemy force supported by heavy rifle, machine gun fire and grenade fire. When the platoon leader was wounded by enemy fire, Endl took charge of the platoon and pressed the attack. In doing so, he detected more enemy troops moving to surround the unit. With wounded Soldiers at risk of being annihilated by the enemy, and with another advancing platoon at risk of being ambushed by enemy troops, Endl went forward alone and for approximately 10 minutes engaged the enemy in a furious close-range firefight. This allowed his men to crawl forward and rescue three of the wounded. Endl himself brought back the remaining wounded one at a time. As he brought the last wounded man back, he was killed by enemy machine gun fire. His actions saved all but one wounded Soldier and allowed two platoons to withdraw with their wounded and reorganize with the rest of the company.
1st Sgt. Elmer Burr, a member of Company I, 127th Infantry, for his actions on Dec. 24, 1942 near Buna, New Guinea. During an attack, Burr saw an enemy grenade strike near his company commander. Burr threw himself on the grenade, smothering the blast with his body and saving the life of his commander.
A special committee of current and past Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers selected retired Warrant Officer 5 Michael Kreisler and Command Chief Warrant Officer Lynn Ryan to receive one of the organization's highest honors for exceptional achievement and devotion to duty.
Michael Kreisler enlisted in the Army in 1971 and joined the Wisconsin Army National Guard in 1974, serving seven months. He rejoined the Wisconsin Army National Guard in 1978, achieving the rank of sergeant first class before being commissioned as a warrant officer in 1987. His contributions as a personnel warrant officer were significant and critical to the Wisconsin Army National Guard's success in transitioning from a peacetime footing to the global war on terror. Learning from mobilizing 1,000 Soldiers in 1991 for Desert Storm, Kreisler oversaw the mobilization of more than 8,000 Soldiers after Sept. 11, 2001. He continually improved the Soldier Readiness Process, resulting in less than three percent of mobilized Soldiers unable to deploy — a national benchmark for mobilizing National Guard Soldiers. He expertly handled nine Wisconsin Army National Guard combat deaths, including the first female National Guard Soldier combat death since World War II, allowing the family to deal with the high-profile death with dignity and honor. He retired from the Wisconsin Army National Guard in 2010 after more than 34 years of military service. His awards include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal with silver oak leaf cluster, Army Commendation Medal and the Army Achievement Medal.
Lynn Ryan enlisted in the Wisconsin Army National Guard in 1974 as a unit clerk, achieving the rank of master sergeant before being commissioned as a chief warrant officer 2 in 1986. As a warrant officer, Ryan served in positions of increasing responsibility, including property book officer, military personnel technician, personnel services branch chief, equal employment opportunity officer, and deployed to Kuwait as a military personnel technician with the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team in 2005. She was promoted to chief warrant officer 5 in 2006, and served as the Wisconsin Army National Guard's command chief warrant officer, a position she held until her retirement in 2011. In this role she was instrumental in establishing a reserve component warrant officer candidate school in Wisconsin, and implemented a proactive communications and recruiting plan to retain and grow the warrant officer corps in the Wisconsin Army National Guard. Her awards include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the Army Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the Army Achievement Medal and the Wisconsin National Guard Eisenhower Trophy Unit Citation.
A public induction ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. May 3 at Joint Force Headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin.