a group of people sitting in chairs: Patrick Nettesheim (left), founder of Guitars for Vets, watches as Navy veteran David McMahon plays his new guitar.© Michael Sears / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Patrick Nettesheim (left), founding father of Guitars for Vets, watches as Navy veteran David McMahon performs his new guitar.

MEQUON – “When was the final time you strummed, David? When was the final time you held a guitar in your arms?”

“When was the final time you went to the toilet?” David snapped again sarcastically, a honey-colored Yamaha acoustic resting on his thigh.

It had been 40 years since David McMahon, a 92-year-old Navy veteran, final performed guitar. However to him, the music by no means actually went away.

On Friday, he was given the brand new Yamaha guitar from Patrick Nettesheim, founding father of Guitars for Vets. Usually, veterans in this system have to join classes earlier than getting their very own guitar. However McMahon’s case was completely different — he was by no means a professional, however may play like one in his prime. 

His good friend Judy Schwerm knew it had been a long time since he final performed. So when McMahon excitedly confirmed her a narrative about Guitars for Vets within the Tuesday Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Schwerm knew she needed to do one thing.

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She contacted Nettesheim and stated they wanted a guitar.  

“(It was) among the finest concepts I’ve ever had,” stated Schwerm, a former president of Make a Want Basis of Wisconsin. “I suppose I simply by no means stopped granting needs.”

Throughout World Battle II, when McMahon was stationed within the Philippines, he used to play music along with his comrades throughout downtime. When McMahon moved again to Milwaukee, he performed in a couple of jazz bands. He wasn’t positive why he ever stopped enjoying.

A couple of of his mates at Newcastle Place, his retirement neighborhood in Mequon, play guitar so he will not be alone as he learns to choose up the place he left off.

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When McMahon held the instrument in his fingers, the music flowed proper again.

“I do know that it may take some time … with the music,” he stated. “Nevertheless it’s gonna work, I believe.”

Veteran standing is a commonality amongst many people residing at Newcastle. It’s an id, a hyperlink to one another and their recollections of the previous. 

Schwerm’s husband, Gerald, a former Milwaukee Public Works official, can also be a veteran. She stated he and McMahon joke about “outranking” one another, reflecting again to their standing of their army days. 

After assembly the oldsters at Newcastle, Nettesheim needs to begin a chapter within the retirement neighborhood. Guitars for Vets has a purpose of increasing to 200 chapters in all 50 states, and it’s effectively on its manner, with a projected 100 established chapters by the tip of the 12 months. 

“It is the speculation that when you simply do it, the neighborhood will come,” Nettesheim stated. “Folks simply have to find out about it.” 

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Nettesheim stated he would have by no means thought-about Newcastle as a spot to begin a chapter if he hadn’t met McMahon. However seeing how necessary music is to many members of the neighborhood, it appeared just like the excellent outlet. An opportunity to carry vets collectively, many who have been already musically inclined.

Although his household could not be current when McMahon obtained the guitar Friday, that did not cease him from drawing a small crowd of mates, caretakers and curious onlookers.

He strummed a number of chords, sliding his fingers up and down the fret board. When he stopped — applause. McMahon regarded shocked, however let it cross, uttering a quiet “thanks” to his listeners.

” what’s cool?” Nettesheim requested him. “When you’re sitting right here, enjoying that, everybody within the room has a smile on their face.”


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