Miami Valley Military History Museum holds retirement celebration


FAIRBORN — The Miami Valley Military History Museum held a retirement party for Mark Conrad, former VFW service officer who helped veterans claim life-saving benefits.

Conrad has been working for the VFW for over two decades in a variety of roles, his most recent as a service officer who channeled veteran benefits to those in need. Evidence of Conrad’s success was clear at his retirement party, when dozens of museum volunteers, friends, and family members gathered together to celebrate and congratulate Conrad on his accomplishments.

“I sent an email out to all our volunteers and good friends,” said Catherine Beers-Conrad, Mark’s wife and community relations officer for the museum. “He didn’t know anything about this.”

Three out of five of Conrad’s children were at the surprise celebration, including Megan, the oldest who travelled all the way from Virginia. The celebration was on June 29 at 5:01 p.m., right after the museum closed for the day.

“When Megan showed up in his office, he knew,” said Beers-Conrad.

Carl “Doc” Kanzari was one of the veterans in attendance for the celebration, and shared with Conrad his gratitude for the hours he’s put into the community.

“Everyone here who is a veteran, and their spouses, he has helped,” said Kanzari, who received additional veteran benefits thanks to Conrad after serving over 30 years in the military himself.

To show his gratitude, Kanzari gifted Conrad with a custom wood carving of a keyboard with Conrad’s name etched in the keys.

“Every time he touches that keyboard, he’s affecting someone’s life,” said Kanzari. “So it just made sense.”

For Conrad, the decision to retire was a difficult one, but at 62 years old, he felt it was time.

“In my job, you have the opportunity to help tons of people, which I know I did,” he said. “At the same time, it mentally wears you down.”

Conrad said working with people who he’s not able to help, or hearing about a veteran who passed away before they could find help, was the most difficult part of the job.

“I’ve done it for a number of years, and it’s gotten to the point where I’ve helped a lot of people,” he said. “I can’t help everybody, so maybe it’s time to hang up the spurs.”

After several heartfelt gifts and speeches from friends and family, Conrad’s retirement has officially begun. In his new-found free time, Conrad said he’ll continue to be at the museum sharing his unique knowledge and experiences with guests.

Contact Ethan Charles at 937-502-4532.

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