As a graduate of the United States Naval Academy (1960), I am writing to address a serious and false allegation made of Minnetonka School Board Member & candidate, Bill Wenmark in the October 23rd Lakeshore Weekly News. There his honor was impugned because of a remark he made at a regular meeting of the Minnetonka School Board in October 2005. At that time, on a spur of the moment, he referred to the United States Naval Academy as his "alma mater" while extending congratulations to a father/friend whose son was a Midshipman.
I am concerned and dismayed that such an intentional political smear effort has reached even the district school board level. It is true he innocently miss-used the term "alma mater" in describing his connection with the United States Naval Academy. He has since set about rectifying his choice of words by expanding on the actual nature of his duty at Annapolis. In fact, his service at the United State Naval Academy Hospital/Clinic was as the Senior Corpsman NCOIC (Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge) and because of his advanced education, he was assigned there to develop a new Respiratory Care Department, for all duty personnel and Midshipman.
The editor knew these facts, and instead of fairly describing Bill’s service to his country, the editor chose to inaccurately portray him by taking bits of information out of context. Only the best enlisted men and women serve at Annapolis…and Bill was one of the very best. He had a distinguished Military career while serving both stateside and in Viet Nam. This small fact and more were conveniently and knowingly left out of the article.
Bill Wenmark is an honorable man. His purpose in life, as reflected in his life history, is to serve people. He has done that exceedingly well for 40 years in some of the most trying circumstances. He is dedicated, passionate, committed, and bluntly honest. He is not afraid to speak his mind and just like all of us, sometimes may slip up on word selection during spontaneous statements. Hasn’t that happened to all of us at one time or another? Knowing Bill he probably asks tough questions the School Board majority would often prefer to avoid. His wealth of experience from the fields of medicine, business and the military are different from other Board members and is what makes him a thoughtful, independent voice for Minnetonka citizens. Can we get beyond personal attacks and listen to what he has to say about the issues facing the District?
I lived my life and do to this day by the code: Duty, Honor, Country. I gravitate toward people with the same moral base, which explains why Bill Wenmark and I have been good friends more than 10 years. If I lived in the Minnetonka School District, he’s the type of person I would be campaigning for. I would hope the District voters can rise above personal attack and see it the same way.
Douglas K. Menikheim
Captain, USN (ret.)
Class of 1960, USNA
Co-Director, Centre for Applied Leadership