Porath takes helm of VFW Post 1638
Effective June 15, Mike Porath has become the new commander of Merrill VFW Post 1638.
Porath was elected to the position by post members on Tuesday, May 7. He replaces John Rathke; one of the longest standing commanders in post history; having served since 2014. Porath previously held the role of post Senior Vice-Commander.
Porath is a three-year U.S Navy veteran. He served from 1982-85 aboard the USS Wichita as a boatsman’s mate, in defense of the Korean Peninsula. As a result of his service, Porath was awarded the US Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. Mike has been been a Post 1638 member for the last 24 years.
Rathke served 21-years in the US Air Force as an Aircraft Structural Maintenance Technician. During his service, John served a combat tour in the Persian Gulf, at Diego Garcia, during the Gulf War in 1990. He has been a VFW Post 1638 member since January of 2006. His retirement from the USAF followed in June of that year.
Prior to being elected Post Commander in 2014, Rathke served one-term as Senior Vice Commander (2013-14). During his commanding tenure, Rathke lists several accomplishments the post has accomplished, of which he is proud of, including; implementing monthly visits from post members to veterans at Pine Crest Nursing Home, delivering Christmas gifts to residents at the King Veterans Home located in Waupaca county, assuming the Memorial Day Program from the American Legion, establishing an indoor venue for local Memorial Day activities at Merrill High School and implementing a program where post members visit and award certificates of recognition to local Kindergartner classes, upon learning to recite the Pledge of Allegiance,
One of Rathke’s proudest accomplishments is Post 1638 receiving All-State recognition during three of the five-years of his leadership. In 2015, Post 1638 was named the top post in the state of Wisconsin. The All-State recognition includes, membership – at 100% or above, meeting five categories in the community service, donations to required veterans programs; and ensuring all paperwork is filed with state and national levels.
“It’s been an enjoyable experience,” Rathke said.
As he explains, he continued to pursue maintaining his command post for several reasons over the last five-years, but the most profound was the initiation of the new Northwoods Veteran’s Post project on sixth and Johnson Street.
“We had discussed the project for several years and it finally came to fruition in 2016. That was huge for us, it was something everyone worked hard for and I wanted to see the building project through. Maintaining post activities in the community is and always been very important to me. I felt there was more I could do there and I think we have done some great things in the community. I’d like to thank those who supported me over the years and I look forward to what the future holds under Commander Porath’s leadership.
John plans to continue being active in the post as well as the Northwoods Veteran’s Post (NWP) project. He continues to hold a trustee role within VFW Post 1638 and will continue his State Guard role with the Wisconsin State VFW; overseeing meeting attendance and accompanying dignitaries at the State VFW events.
Porath is also excited to see the NWP project come to fruition.
“I’ve been a very strong supporter of the Northwoods Veterans Post project since it began,” Porath said. “My wife Cheryl and I have been very involved from the start. As post commander, I look forward to only the completion of the Northwoods Veterans Post, but also maintaining the post’s involvement in the community. I am very thankful for the support from post members in choosing me as post commander. I may be the commander, but it really is our members who make our post successful.”