Gene Whisnant - Our State Representative
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Hwy 97 dedicated as WWII Veterans Historic Highway
Representative Whisnant attends the Hwy 97 WWII Veterans Historic Highway dedication ceremony

I had the privilege of participating in the June 6th ceremony at the Great Hall in Sunriver to dedicate the naming of Highway 97, the “WWII Veterans Historic Highway” and to express appreciation to the WWII veterans and their families and friends on the anniversary of D-Day. Lt Col Dick Tobiason, USA Retired and his “Bend Hero Foundation” officers: Eric Tobiason, vice president; Lee Flegel, secretary; Dennis McMahon, treasurer; and directors: Robert Maxwell (Congressional Medal of Honor recipient), Al Paterson, and Kip McCormick presented a professional and very patriotic ceremony at the Sunriver Great Hall which was the Officers Club when it was Camp Abbot during WWII.

Dick Tobiason would be the first to acknowledge that he had help from many people (individuals, businesses, elected officials and state agencies) to pass SB 499 which named Highway 97 -- the “WWII Veterans Historic Highway”; to build the signs; to locate and install the signs and to plan and execute the ceremony. Tom O’Shea, Sunriver Resort general manager, welcomed the guests and explained the history of Camp Abbot. Sunriver Resort donated the Great Hall, a reception, and rooms for the military band from the Washington National Guard for this patriotic event. As the State Representative from Sunriver, I welcomed the guests and expressed my appreciation for the “Greatest Generation” which included my father who was awarded a Bronze Star for valor and the Purple Heart for his actions during the Battle of the Bulge. Colonel Tobiason first contacted me about this project in 2007 and the bill passed in 2009 with strong support and sponsorship by Legislators who attended the ceremony: Senator Ted, Ferriolli, Senator Doug Whitsett, Senator Chris Telfer, Rep. George Gilman, Rep. John Huffman and myself. Video of the Sunriver event is at

I understand that the “Bend Hero Foundation” is still short of paying for the signs if you would like to contribute. Also, we learned about a new project called “Honor Flight of Oregon” which honors Oregon’s living heroes by arranging for them to visit Washington DC war memorials. The cost for one veteran is about $400.00. To learn more about this project; please visit

We all owe our WW II veterans the greatest gratitude. I believe this ceremony and the naming of Highway 97 in honor of them were outstanding tributes to them.

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PO Box 3565 Sunriver Oregon 97707 (541) 593-7437

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