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Continuing the fight: Combat veteran shares stories of loss & encouragement in keynote address

Heidtman shares story of his late friend, veteran advocacy to "unify" country.
Posted at 5:21 PM, May 27, 2024

GREEN BAY (NBC26) — A message of honor and remembrance. I spoke with a veteran who delivered a special Memorial Day message at Fort Howard Memorial Park.

  • Dozens of people attended the annual Memorial Day ceremony at Fort Howard Memorial Park.
  • Michael Heidtman was the keynote speaker. He shared his experiences with loss while encouraging the community to never forget those who served.
  • Heidtman created a coffee company to donate funds towards cancer research for combat veterans after he was diagnosed with cancer in 2022.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

The Memorial Day remembrance program is back for another year at Fort Howard Memorial Park — A program comprised of reflection and honor.

"I'm honored to stand here today and continue to fight for veteran advocacy as well as those that we lost," said combat veteran Michael Heidtman.

Heidtman gave the keynote address. I spoke with him before he went on stage about the message he aimed to send with his speech.

"It's to not forget and to have the country unify," Heidtman said.

Heidtman told me about some of his wartime experiences on the battleground.

A reality that also included losing his good friend, Kevin John Wayne Singleton, in Iraq.

"Me and him had served and did several convoys together and had done training together prior," Heidtman said. "(He was) 33 years old when he passed. (He had a) wife, kids."

Heidtman also mentioned the impact that serving in the armed forces has on a veteran's life.

"Especially when you have family, job, basic life commitments, to then transitioning into thinking of what you actually went through and the fact that other people didn't make it home," Heidtman said.

The program also featured flag dedications and the ringing of a bell to honor the fallen.

"We honor the soldiers who faced unimaginable hardships on distant battlefields, the sailors who sailed into harm's way on treacherous seas, and the airman who flew into unknown skies, and all those who answered the call of duty never to return home," Heidtman said.

Heidtman was diagnosed with cancer in 2022 and started a coffee company called New Dawn Coffeewhere he raises funds for cancer research for combat veterans.