A Place to Heal


Holcombe Area Veterans Memorial creates space to honor those who served

Veterans and their loved ones will soon have a place for honoring all who have served in the past, present, and future, as progress continues on the Holcombe Area Veterans Memorial. The tribute will be located just west of Highway 27 on 263rd Avenue in Holcombe.

According to David Conrad, U.S. Army veteran and a founding member of the memorial committee, the space is designed to provide a place of honor and reflection.

“We hope it’s a space the whole community can enjoy,” Conrad said. “The memorial itself is just phase one. Eventually, we’d like to have a pavilion, bathrooms, and eventually, a museum where we can tell the stories of local veterans. With every veteran, there’s a story – whether you’re talking about our World War II veterans, someone who spent almost 40 years in the military like me, or someone who played the important role of serving in our guard or reserves.”

Conrad hopes the memorial becomes a place where those stories can bridge generations. The committee encourages those who memorialize loved ones to include stories and artifacts from their time in service.

“We want to create a place where young people can see that record and find out about their grandfather’s time in service,” he said. “Someday we’d like to have a kiosk that could allow visitors to easily access that information. Just like the memorials out in Washington, D.C., we want people to be able to touch the names on the wall and remember that service person.”

The site was excavated this summer, and concrete will be poured and flagpoles installed by Veterans Day. Designed as a 5 Point Star to recognize each branch of military service, the memorial will feature granite tablets engraved with the names of veterans who either lived, worked, attended school, or retired in Holcombe.

“It’s going to be a place of healing,” says Jim Mataczynski, chairman of the memorial’s planning committee, who served as a Navy Seabee heavy equipment mechanic in early 1970s. “I get goosebumps every time I come out here. I see what it’s going to look like, and I see the faces of the names we’re recognizing.”

Although the main memorial will be reserved for veterans with ties to Holcombe, legacy stones can be purchased for veterans from neighboring communities. Honorees may be a veteran or non-veteran, living or not, and an individual or organization. Funds raised through legacy stone sales will help provide for the park’s development and upkeep. Two sizes of legacy stones are available, 8″x8″ for $250 or 12″x12″ for $500.

A Goal by Veterans Day

Mataczynski notes that a second phase will include the addition of a meditation garden, bell tower, pavilion, and POW-MIA media center, where the veterans’ records will be housed.

He hopes the space will also provide a place where veterans who are returning home can gather for workshops and process the weight of their service.

Local veterans like Dave Staudacher, left, and Jim Mataczynski are the driving force behind the Holcombe Area Veterans Memorial.

“Some of these boys—especially those who were in combat, but even those who never went into battle—have heavy things weighing on their minds,” Mataczynski said. “Long-term, we’d like to be able to host workshops and offer support for veterans who are transitioning back into the community.”

Committee Historian and U.S. Navy veteran Dave Staudacher is excited to create a place where history can come alive. He hopes visitors will wander and explore the stones. Dave and his wife, Sue, donated the land for the memorial.

Construction costs have risen dramatically in the few years since the memorial was conceptualized. The committee has raised over $100,000 in donations and hopes to raise an additional $30,000 by Veterans Day.

The community is invited to join in a Raise the Flag Celebration on November 4 at the memorial site, followed by a soup and sandwich luncheon fundraiser from noon to 4 p.m. at Holcombe Town Hall.

“It’s all an opportunity for the community to see the vision we have for this space,” Mataczynski said.

Volunteers Needed

The group welcomes volunteers, whether they have military ties or not. Many contractors have donated time, and Mataczynski notes that the committee could benefit from expertise in engineering and landscaping or from more boots on the ground for fundraising and events.

“You do not need to be a veteran to be a part of this memorial,” Mataczynski said. “We have many different tasks people can help with.”

Chippewa Valley Electric Cooperative supported the memorial’s start-up fund with a $500 donation in 2022. CVEC also secured approval from Dairyland Power Cooperative, our wholesale power provider, for use of the adjacent substation property for overflow event parking at the memorial.

“As a veteran myself, I commend the folks who have been working to make this vision become a reality in the community,” said CVEC Board Chairman and U.S. Army Reserve veteran John Petska. “It’s a worthwhile cause to recognize all the veterans from the past and carry their stories forward into the future.”

Interested in recognizing a veteran in your life or want to make a donation? Learn more at

For now, this committed group of veterans is looking forward to the completion of phase one, and the sight of flags flying as cars enter Holcombe on Highway 27. But the potential for where it goes from there continues to grow.

“The more this project progresses, the more the passion for it and the vision for what we could do here grows,” Mataczynski said. “As long as there are veterans coming up and skirmishes and wars, this will never be done. Until the world can find peace, this memorial will continue to grow.”

Endvick is a member services representative for Chippewa Valley Electric Cooperative. She can be reached at dendvick@cve.coop or 715-239-6800.