Salute to Veterans - 2022

Page 1


I'm going home ALIVE

13 months spent on 'search and destroy'

Making his grandfathers PROUD


“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.” - Elmer Davis


2209 Jefferson St, Easton Place II, Alexandria • 320-763-3311 PAGE 2


INSIDE THIS ISSUE: Couple opens winery, supports military....................................4 National Guard recruiter advises 'Just do it'..................................................8 Lowell Benson............................................12 Honoring our Veterans...........................14

Branches of the military....................... 22 Displaying the flag...................................23 A hero's welcome..................................... 24 The Star Spangled Banner.................... 25 Douglas County Veterans Services is ready to assist veterans................ 26 More than 7,000 names inscribed at Veterans Memorial Park............... 30 Diann Drew, Publisher Celeste Edenloff, Special projects editor Thalen Zimmerman, Reporter Travis Gulbrandson, Reporter Lowell Anderson, Photo editor Lori Mork, Layout/design Karen Tolkkinen, Proofreader

'I'm going home alive'

Russ Oorlog spent 13 months on 'search and destroy' missions in Vietnam

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Making his grandfathers proud

Osakis graduate finds many positives in Army National Guard

A publication of Echo Press, November 2022 225 7th Ave. East, Alexandria, MN

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Page 10 Veterans photos on pages 14-22 are from reader submissions


As Veterans Day approaches and people take time to honor those who have served in the Armed Forces, it makes me reflect on my own family and all of those who have been in the military – my brothers, nephews, nieces, cousins, aunts, uncles and more. Although I am thankful and grateful to the many veterans in my family – too many to name them all – I would like to take this opportunity to give a shout out to my four brothers – Alan, Steven, Michael and Charles. They are all United States Air Force veterans. I would also like to thank the nearly 3,000 veterans who are living right here in Douglas County. This “Salute” magazine is for you and for all families of veterans. It makes me so proud to work at a company who knows the importance of honoring our military men and women. You will see the faces of many in the pages of the magazine. The Echo Press would like to thank all Douglas County veterans.

CELESTE EDENLOFF Special Projects Editor

Thank you for the sacrifices you made, for your valor and for defending your country and our rights. Thank you also for your courage, your strength and your dedication. We appreciate you and we honor you.





supports military Between them, they’ve put in more than 50 years in the military

By Celeste Edenloff


ith more than 50 years of military service between the two of them, it seems only fitting that when Ron and Rebecca Joyce opened a winery, the word “veterans” would be a part of the name. The couple opened the winery – 68 & Vine Veterans Winery – in August 2020. It is located near Miltona on County Road 68 (hence the name). Several of their wines are in honor of the military, including the Coastie (Coast Guard), which has a picture of Rebecca’s dad, Paul Drew, and her grandpa, Harold Drew, on it. Her grandpa was a chief in the Coast Guard.



Swabbie is a wine representing the Navy. It has a picture of Rebecca on it with her other grandpa, Lloyd VanRiper, who was a chief in the Navy. In 1994, her grandpa put on her bars when she was commissioned in the Navy. Jarhead is for the Marines and includes a picture of Rick Mohawk from Alexandria. He is pictured with his children when he was coming home from deployment. G.I. Joe represents the Army and Ron served in the Army National Guard so the bottle has his picture on it. Flyboys honors those who served in the Air Force. The photo is of Valerie and Roy Harmon, friends of Rebecca’s. Both were in the Air Force. One more wine they have – Guardians – represents the Space Force. Because they do not know anyone in the Space Force, there is just a generic photo that represents the Space Force.

Ron and Rebecca Joyce, both veterans, own and operate 68 & Vine Veterans Winery near Miltona. Celeste Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press Besides wine made from the grapes grown at their winery, Ron and Rebecca also produce fruit wines, which are all named after family members. Appella, an apple wine, is named after their granddaughter, Ella; Keeley Lime, a lime wine, is named after their granddaughter, Keeley; Norabell, a blueberry wine, is named after their granddaughter, Nora; and Munchkinberry, a raspberry, blackberry, blueberry wine is named after their daughter, Jessica. Their winery includes eight acres of grapes that grow 16 different varieties. They also

have an orchard and use the apples for winemaking. Besides winemaking and tending to their vineyard and winery, Ron and Rebecca enjoy traveling and spending time with their family, which includes six children between them – Elijah, Jonah, Jeremiah, Arianah, Emmah and Jessica. They also have 15 grandchildren, whom they absolutely adore, they said. Both Ron and Rebecca talked about their careers in the military, which included overseas deployments for both of them. HE WAS IN THE ARMY NATIONAL GUARD Ron, a 1977 Alexandria graduate, joined the Army National Guard in 1985 as enlisted, then accepted his commission and became an officer five years later in 1990. His father, his grandfather and grandfather’s brother were also in the military. They were all members of the U.S. Army. As the Army was part-time for Ron, he worked full-time. He

helped manage a paper company in Fargo for several years and then he taught at NDSU. He worked for the Department of Defense and was an assistant professor for the Department of Military Science. During his military career, Ron was deployed overseas a few times – in 2006 and 2007 to Afghanistan and in 2009 and 2010 in Iraq. He was an infantry officer during those times. When recalling his time serving in the military, Ron said some of his favorite times were just being with the guys, the other soldiers. “I miss a lot of those guys, the camaraderie,” he said. “I’ve appreciated and I’ve liked every job I had in the military.” But not all his time was easy. There were plenty of challenging times. His most

challenging was when he was deployed in two combat zones. “Our lives were threatened more daily in Iraq,” he said. “There were rockets and other things.” He said trying to prepare for being deployed overseas was key. Trying to be mentally and physically prepared is always good, but Ron also said part of being prepared is getting to know your enemy. “Knowing their culture, knowing their language, reading up on everything,” he said. “And talking to those who were there before you. It’s all helpful.” In total, Ron spent more than two years overseas. He shared that when he first got to Iraq, it was really bad. “I thought I was in hell in Iraq,” he said. “It was so hot

“I thought I was in hell in Iraq. It was so hot and so dry and so threatening.” and so dry and so threatening,." While in Iraq, Ron was a strategic long-range planner for his division. He planned all the moves and he planned for brigades in the enemy’s movement..


Army National Guard

When he was in Afghanistan, he was part of a 16-man team that was embedded. “I was an embedded tactical trainer, so I was teaching the U.S. Army doctrine to the Afghan army,” he said. JOYCE Page 28

“All of us at Alomere Health salute the veterans that fought for our freedo om—many giving their lives. We e are honored to have veterranss that work with us at Alomere e, co ontinuing to serve our community. communitty. Thank you. you.”

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Russ Oorlog of Alexandria spent 13 months in Vietnam on ‘search and destroy’ missions


By Thalen Zimmerman

ad habit I picked up in the Army,” said Russ Oorlog, 75, of Alexandria, right before inhaling a drag from his cigarette. “A lot of Vietnam guys are smokers.” Oorlog never imagined joining the military. The stories his father briefly touched on from his time in World War II convinced Oorlog that military life wasn’t for him. But, that did not stop his name from being called during the Vietnam draft. A year out of high school and working a well-paying job for a steel company in Minneapolis – five hours from his small hometown of Olivet, South Dakota – Oorlog was just over 18 years old when he received his draft notice.

Russ Oorlog poses next to a plaque at Veterans Memorial Park that honors Terence Kjos who lost his life in 1970 while serving in Vietnam. Oorlog befriended Kjos during his time in Vietnam. Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press



Russ Oorlog rests his hand on an ‘exact replica’ of the Liberty Bell found at Veterans Memorial Park in Alexandria. Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press Although the military wasn’t what he imagined for himself, he was a patriot and knew he had a duty to fulfill. “I was a young man. I was single. I was not married. I knew the call of duty was where I should go,” Oorlog said. “My dad encouraged me. He said, ‘Just go and work hard and you’ll be okay.’ Thankfully, I was.” Toward the end of 1965, Oorlog answered the call and began his journey into the United States Army. A journey that sent him around the world, put him in situations he never imagined, helped him develop a bad smoking habit, and showed him what he was capable of. After months of training and a series of vaccines, Oorlog boarded a plane to go fight for the United States. In October 1966, he landed at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines for additional training. He then went on to Tokyo, Japan for a night before being sent to Cameron Bay, Vietnam – a G.I. receiving spot filled with Navy, Marine and Army personnel alike. It was 115 degrees when Oorlog arrived at the bay. Not long after, he was sent to Củ Chi – “deep in the bush” outside of Saigon, where he spent the next 13 months on ‘search and destroy’ missions with the 25th Infantry Division nicknamed “Tropic Lightning.” “We were some bad people,” Oorlog said, referring to the platoon’s toughness. Oorlog rose through the ranks to E-7 Sergeant First Class, which put him in the leadership of 186 soldiers. “As U.S. Army soldiers out in the field, you learn a lot real quick. If you don’t listen, you’re in trouble,” Oorlog said. “I

was one of those people, I guess, that would listen and do what I was told. “We did stuff that I never thought we would do, but we did it,” he continued. “It’s scary. When you know that you can be fired upon and killed within seconds, minutes, days, you’re out in the bush and you’re fighting. It was a terrible, terrible war.” Oorlog didn’t go into much detail about his time in Vietnam other than his platoon was often sent to defend the U.S.-operated hospitals and airports in Saigon. They dealt with guerilla fighters dressed in black who often attacked at night and village people they thought were friendly, but weren’t. He said he spent most of his days repeating the same line, “I’m going home alive.” “You can’t take the chance in a war zone,” he said. “Killing somebody is a major, major thing in your mind. And it can affect you down the road.” Before Oorlog was drafted, he was an avid sportsman who enjoyed hunting. After coming home from Vietnam, it was a good 10 years until he was able to bring himself to go hunting again. And another five until he could actually pull the trigger. Oorlog finally came home in the early part of 1968. His only break during that time was a two-week leave that sent him to Australia with a fellow Aussie soldier for some “rest and relaxation.” His first steps back on U.S. soil were in Anchorage, Alaska, in early 1968. He remembers finding the nearest store and buying all the milk he could get his hands on. He really missed milk.

Oorlog said while Alaska, for the most part, was very welcoming, he did run into a fair share of anti-Vietnam war protesters.

“As U.S. Army soldiers out in the field, you learn a lot real quick. If you don’t listen, you’re in trouble.” RUSS OORLOG Vietnam Veteran

“We were spit on. We were told we were killers and stuff like that, you know?” Oorlog said. “I think it bothered me, but I just let it go. What can I do about it?” Oorlog said that even though it gave him a bad smoking habit and he doesn’t miss a thing about it, he is thankful for his time in the military. He said it changed his attitude on what civilians need to do to serve our country, that it taught him if he worked hard, he could go places and he learned how to be friendly, honest and helpful to others. After a year of being home, Oorlog went back to work at the steel company where he worked for 52 years until his retirement.

About 13 years ago, he moved to Alexandria and joined the VFW. His appreciation for his time in the military led him and some other VFW members to start a funeral detail for veterans. They participate in dozens of military funerals every year. Oorlog furthered his dedication to veterans by becoming an integral part of the creation of Veterans Memorial Park on Broadway, which features more than 7,000 names of veterans. “I don’t want no veteran left behind. So if there is a veteran out there seeking help, I want to help them,” Oorlog said. “Whether it be psychological, financial, whatever. I want to help that vet.”

Russ Oorlog spoke at the conclusion of a celebration of life service Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020. The service was for James Freiberg, who died Aug. 9. He served in the Air Force. Echo Press file photo

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN VETERANS DAY AND MEMORIAL DAY? Many people don’t realize there is a difference. Memorial Day is for remembering military members who died in service to their country, especially those who died as a result of battle. While on Veterans Day, all members of the service are honored for their contributions during wartime and peacetime, both living and dead, it is a special time to acknowledge all those living who have served this country, not only those who died.

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‘Just do it’ Sfc. Lance Meyer joined on a dare from his younger brother

By Travis Gulbrandson It started on a dare. Twenty years ago, Sfc. Lance Meyer was a 19-year-old college student who was feeling unsatisfied. “College wasn’t doing it for me, the college I was going to,” Meyer said. One day when he came home from class he found his younger brother sitting at the table with a recruiter from the Minnesota Army National Guard, who asked if he was interested in enlisting. His answer was simple. “Nope. Never joining.” Ten minutes later, Meyer was in his room doing his homework when his brother came in. “I dare you to do it with me,” he said. Shortly thereafter, they called the recruiter, who came back to the house, and Meyer started the paperwork. It’s a decision he does not regret. “Twenty years of doing this now, and I absolutely love it,” Meyer said. “I never would have thought in a million years that a dare would turn out this good.”

Sfc. Lance Meyer, left, with three of his recruits, from left, Pfc. Grace Oeltjen, Spc. Kenzie Jacobs and Spc. Jacob Uhl at the Berserker Cup Strongman Competition. The event took place at 22 Northman Brewing Company in Alexandria on Aug. 20, 2022. Contributed photo Meyer graduated basic training in February 2003, and soon afterward was activated to guard the power plant in Monticello for two weeks. About six months later, from September 2003 to August 2004, he was deployed to Kosovo. Eleven months after returning home, he was deployed again, this time to Iraq, from 2005 to 2007. After coming home again, Meyer received his degree in law enforcement from Alexandria Technical and Community College. “Before I graduated I got offered a fulltime position in recruiting for the National

Guard,” Meyer said. “I did that for about six months, and then I got selected for the Honor Guard. I did that for threeand-a-half years, and then I got a job in Alexandria for supply. I did that for eight months. I switched over to training NCO, and I did that up until 2017.” Meyer was then switched back to recruiting, which he has done ever since. His primary role as a recruiter is to find qualified people to enlist in the Minnesota National Guard. “I go to schools, meet with students, … go to county fairs, just different events, and basically find people that are interested in joining,” he said.

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“I love the fact that I get to go out and meet new people every day. No day is like the day before.” SFC. LANCE MEYER National Guard Recruiter

Meyer enjoys the fact that every day on the job is different. “I love the fact that I get to go out and meet new people every day,” he said. “No day is like the day before. It’s constantly changing. The days really fly by. I get to meet a lot of fun, interesting people in the schools, and I get to see how each one of these schools differs from each other, and learn from them.” If he has a favorite aspect of his job, Meyer said it would be the people. “The people I’ve been with, the people I’ve met,” he said. “I’ve gotten to do some really fun things on deployments, being on the Honor Guard. I’ve worked with presidents, I’ve worked with governors, senators, congressmen, Medal of

Sfc. Lance Meyer, left, a recruiter in Alexandria, is pictured with one of his recruits, Pfc. Sam Wicken, who enlisted in January 2022. Contributed photo Honor recipients. I’ve gotten to be with a lot of different people from all different walks of life, and it’s just been interesting to see different places and different people.” For those who are thinking about joining the military, Meyer has one thing to say: Do it. “My biggest regret in my military career is not doing it

sooner, and everybody that I’ve ever enlisted I’ve told the same thing, and there’s a lot of people that I’ve enlisted that believe that same thing,” he said. “If you’re thinking about it, don’t wait, just do it. The longer you wait, the harder it is to get in because of health issues, moral issues, whatever it is. If you want to do it, just do it.”

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MAKING HIS GRANDFATHERS Osakis graduate finds many positives in Army National Guard In 2018, when he was just 17, Carson Bergquist decided to join the Army National Guard. “Both my grandfathers were in the Army and I wanted to make them proud,” said the 2021 Osakis graduate who is now in college at the University of Minnesota-Moorhead. Bergquist, whose parents both work in the Osakis School District – his father, Randy, is the superintendent and his mother, Missy, is the high school counselor – was one of seven classmates to join the Minnesota Army National Guard. Those seven students made up 10% of the Class of 2021. Bergquist said he was the first one in his class to join. And that he joined was

“It’s a great way to serve your country and meet new people. There have been many positives to joining the Army National Guard.” CARSON BERGQUIST

E-4 Specialist Army National Guard



Osakis Superintendent Randy Bergquist spoke at a program Monday, May 3, 2021, honoring seven Osakis High School seniors who have joined the Minnesota Army National Guard. The students, who make up about 10% of the senior class, are (from left) Anna Wolf, Grace Oeltjen, Duncan Vandergon, Anthony Leighton, Jacob Uhl, Jace Twardowski and Carson Bergquist. Echo Press file photo thanks, in part, to Lance Meyer, who is a recruiter from Alexandria. “He’s a great guy,” said Bergquist. “I trusted him then, I trust him now and still call and talk to him today. He was really there for me and still is.” After Bergquist joined, which was in October, he spent the next seven months on the weekends going to Moorhead and getting prepared for basic training. ‘BOOTCAMP WAS TOUGH’ Then in the summer of 2020, he was sent to Jackson, South Carolina for his basic training, which he said he was “really nervous” about. He was a 42 Alpha assigned to work as a human resource specialist. “Bootcamp was tough,” he said. “I was away from my family. We didn’t get to talk for about three months.” Bergquist added that bootcamp was easier than he thought when it came to the physical aspect, but said it was much harder mentally. “I think it was mentally hard for me because I don’t like

getting yelled at,” he said. But he also said that he learned a lot and grew up a lot while he was in bootcamp. “I started calling people ma’am and sir and I came back with a shaved head,” he said. “It was a little hard to adapt when I came back. Although before I left, I kind of took everything for granted, but not after I got back, so that was good.” He added that after being away from his family, his mom, he now calls his mom about 10 times a day. During his time in bootcamp at basic training, Bergquist said everything was very rigid and that everything had to be done a certain way, which is not what he was used to. AIT TRAINING WAS GOOD After bootcamp, he finished his senior year of school and then went back to South Carolina for AIT training. This is advanced individual training that is more focused on the job which you signed up for or are assigned to.

When Carson Bergquist returned from basic training, his parents were waiting right outside the airport terminal for him. This picture was taken while they were walking back to their vehicle. It was the first time he had seen his parents in more than three months. Contributed photo He graduated on May 11 and then on May 12, was shipped back to South Carolina for the AIT training. “I was nervous because I didn’t know what it was going to be like and I didn’t want it to be like bootcamp,” he said.

But, to his surprise, it was nothing like bootcamp. When he got off the plane for bootcamp, there was someone waiting for him and was provided instructions for everything. This time, he said, “No one was waiting for me and I didn’t have any instructions to follow.” Luckily, he had a phone number to call, but it was around midnight when he arrived at the airport in South Carolina and the person who answered really didn’t know anything but said they would check into it. He got a call back and was instructed to take a taxi to the gates of Fort Jackson. At that point, a drill sergeant came and picked him up and it all went a lot more smoothly after that.

“AIT was much easier than bootcamp at basic training,” he said. “It was much more focused on schooling and some of the teachers were civilians. This training was good for me as it helped me with my future.” HOPING TO BECOME A LAWYER While at MSUM, Bergquist said he is studying finance, which is a lot of what he was learning about while at AIT training. However, he is hoping to go to law school soon. “The military really has been good for me,” Bergquist said, but he is looking forward to becoming a lawyer someday because he said lawyers stick up for people and that when he was younger, he was bullied and never stuck up for himself. Bergquist said one of things that really got him through

bootcamp and AIT training was that his mother wrote to him every day. He also said that he is a Christian and that God was there for him, too. He remembers one particular hard day when he saw a butterfly fluttering near him. “It was God and my mom,” he said. “And what’s cool is when I told my mom about it, she saw a butterfly the same day and she said she knew it was me thinking about her.” For the next three years, Bergquist, who is now an E-4 Specialist, which he said is the rank right before sergeant, will continue doing weekend drills and two-week training periods. “It’s a great way to serve your country and meet new people,” he said. “There have been many positives to joining the Army National Guard.”

Carson Bergquist, a 2021 Osakis graduate, is a member of the Army National Guard. This photo was taken on range day after he qualified in shooting the M4 rifle. Three weeks of bootcamp was dedicated to range days to qualify in shooting that particular rifle. Contributed photo


VETERANS We Salute You! | 320.763.6587 SALUTE


military strong

ALEXANDRIA IS Lowell Benson of Alexandria served in the military, alongside his four brothers – David, John, Ronald and Arne. In fact, all five Benson siblings are etched on one of the Cold War stones at the Alexandria Veterans Park. Lowell served from 1956 to 1963, David served from 1959 to 1963, John served from 1955 to 1964, Ronald served from 1965 to 1969 and Arne served from 1963 until 1973. And all five are Alexandria graduates. Lowell Benson was actually one of about 51 classmates from the Alexandria graduating class of 1956 who served in the military. The class size then was 160 students.

Benson shared an excerpt from a reunion booklet printed in 2021, which is when the class held its 65th class reunion. It listed the different branches of the military and then names of those who served in that particular branch.

AIR FORCE Ralph Daniels, Dick Shogren, Ray Dau, Donald Hallgren, Darcy Lorsun, Luther Myhr and H. Dan Ness. Daniels received the DistinLowell Benson of Alexandria kneels down next to all the Benson names engraved at the Alexandria Veteran Memorial Park, including his own. Contributed photo guished Flying Cross during 258 missions as a fighter pilot during his two tours in Vietnam. His citation was recommended by the Army for close-in support of ground actions.

Members of the Alexandria graduating Class of 1956 at their 65th reunion in 2021. Contributed photo

ARMY Dallas Barnack, Lowell Benson, Hugh Lucas, Norma Blankenship, Darrel Van Amber, Norman Anderson, Jim Becker, Jim Bircher, Tom Bradford, Jim Cassell, Jerome Freding, Davis

Froemming, Norman Hanson, Nick Hvezda, Arvo Lofquist, John Loken, Jim Martin, Bill Mechels, Chris Mechels, Dan Pennie, Harlan Ritter, Norman Salto, Leon Schultz, Rodney Swanson and Gaylen Zavadil. Van Amber was reportedly the longest serving classmate with 30 years of active and reserve duty. MARINES Gary Ignowski, Chuck Olson and Mike Schneiderhan.

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NAVY James Carlson, Dale Gillespie, Gerald Nicholas, John Petersen, Robert Stemsrud, Wayne Behrens, Don Bundy, David Clark, Bill Evans, Ed Fjerstad, Jim Johnson, Jim Kaufman, Bruce Nelson, Cedric Nelson, Bernie Rooney and Donald Schrupp. Petersen was reportedly the highest-ranking military officer from the class. He retired from the Navy Reserve after 29 years of service. Lowell also noted that another classmate, Bob Pommerenke, was a civilian teacher for the Department of Defense in Japan. He shared that some service years could not be verified for some of his class-

mates but that 42 of the 51, as of September 2021, are engraved on the monuments at the Alexandria Veterans Memorial Park. That is 26% of his class, he said. He shared that in his opinion, the park is unique because it recognizes those who served and not just those who gave their lives for their country. “As a cold war veteran, so many of us served ‘behind the scenes’ to help keep our country a great place to live in,” Lowell said. “I do not need individual recognition, but occasionally the general public needs reminding of what/ who has contributed ‘time and talents.’ ” The Benson family pose for a photo in the 1990s in Legion Park, which is now home to the Alexandria Veterans Memorial Park. Contributed photo

THANK YOU VETERANS! Rebecca Anderson


Kristi Carter


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Ellie Cavers


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Curtis L. Aamold Air Force 4 years

Jeremy C. Aamold Air Force 20 years

Calvin Abers Retired AOC Navy 20 years

CPT Alexander Ahlbrecht Army 7 years

SMSGT Gavin Ahlbrecht Air Force 28.5 years

Clifford Alveshere Army 2 years

Alverene (Bud) Anderson Navy 1962-1966

Ann Arendt Air Force 7 years Died 1995

Joseph Arendt Navy 30 years

Dr. Robert J. Arendt Navy 4 years Died 1995

Steven Arendt Navy 30 years Died 2012

Thomas Arendt Navy 4 years

William Arendt Navy 3 years

Myrron Barber Army 1951-1953

Mike Bartolomeo Marine Corps 3 years

DID YOU KNOW? There are six branches of service in the U.S. military: the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Space Force. The oldest you can be to enlist for active duty in each branch is: Coast Guard, 31; Marines, 28; Navy, 39; Army, 35; Air Force, 39; Space Force, 39.



Moriah Bartolomeo Marine Corps 2017-2021

Eldon Bearson Air Force Died July 29, 2007

Merle Bearson Army Died September 10, 2010

Bernie Boesen Army 4 years

Gary Boesen Navy 3 years

John Boesen Navy 4 years

Bob Bowden Army-Vietnam 1969-70 Retired 1999 as

John Raiter Boyd Army Died December 16, 1972

Alexander Bradjan Air Force 3 years

William Bursch Navy 4 years

Command Sergeant Major

Dennis W. Carstens Army 2 years Died May 29, 2012

Lawrence P. Cline Army 3.5 years

Brad Collins Army 17.5 years 1981-1998

Dane Compton Marine Corps 1959-1962

Douglas Dahlheimer Navy 4 years

Kerry Danyluk Army 2010-2014 Died May 15, 2014

Willard Davis Army-Medic 4 years Died 1983

Bill DeGideo Navy-Vietnam 1965-1969

Lee Doering Army 1946-1947

George H. Elliot Marine Corps 4 years Died September 29, 1942



Craig Engstrom Air Force 4 years Died May 26, 2022

James C. Engstrom Navy 2 years Died December 18, 2005

Marlyn Fearing Navy 20 years Died August 20, 2012

Kearny Frank Army INF 2 years

Adam Tracy Frederickson Army 1992-1996

SH1SW Michael Garrett Navy 22 years -Retired

A2C Neil Garrett Air Force 4 years

DC3 Raylinn Garrett Navy 4 years

TMSN Thomas Garrett Navy 4 years

Dr. Tim Gehring Army-Major 6 years

Joe Grecula Army 2 years

Arnie Gunness Air Force 1949-1953

Glen Gust Army-Vietnam 2 years (2 Purple Hearts & Bronze Star)

Grant D. Haugen Marine Corps-Vietnam 1969-1970 2 years

Bennie Hedstrom Army 3 years

Thank You For Your Service!










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Ryan Heidelberger Army National Guard 10 years

Melvin Henning Army 4 years Died 2000

Roger Henningsgaard Army-Korea 2 years

Leander “Lee” Hens Army 4 years Died April 22, 2003

Ellsworth Holm Army-Korea 2 years

Stephen W. Huemoller Army-5 years National Guard-4 years

Olaus M. Johnson Army 1918-1919 Died 1985

Milo O. Johnson Army 1945-1946 Died 1994

Ronald D. Johnson Army 1966-1969

Tyler Ray Johnson Army 2003-2008

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Raymond Kallstrom Army 2 years

Duane Joseph Kaufman Army 2 years

Darrell B. Klimek Army 2 years

Melvin J. Klimek Army 2 years

Eugene Kruger Navy 1971-1975

Kari Beth Lempka Air Force 5 years

Daniel W. Lindquist Marine Corps 1972-1975 Died December 30, 2008

Karl D. Lindquist Marine Corps 2002-2005

Vernon Lorsung Navy 4 years

Sylvester F. Lucas Air Force 23 years

Wayne Meyer Army-Vietnam 2 years

David S. Michaels Navy 1982-1988

Bruce A. Nelson Army/National Guard 5.5 years

Donald L. Nolting Army 2 years

Charles R. Olson Air Force 3.5 years

Norbert Olson Navy 1944-1946 Died July 11, 2021

Paul S. Olson Navy-RM2 1959-1965

Robert Olson Army-Signal Corps 3 years

Francis L. Pearson Army 3 years Died February 21, 2014



Ron Krueger Army-Vietman 1968-1969, Afghanistan 2005-2006, 30 years

Jerome Peterson Air Force 6 years

Grace Peterson Army 3 years

Maurie Peterson Marine Corps 4 years

Bill Platto Army National Guard 1941-1945 Died August 4, 2010

Gerald R. Quast Army 3 years

Noel D. Rich Army 3.5 years

Lieutenant Colonel Gerald F. Sacre Air Force-27 years Died November 1, 2021

Alicia M. Salfer Air Force 1993-2014

Jeffrey A. Salfer Air Force 1997-2017

Louie Seesz Navy 1965-1968


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302 Broadway St, Alexandria, MN 56308

Tastefully Simple salutes all who have served to protect our freedoms.

Thank you, veterans! | 866.448.6446 | © 2022 Tastefully Simple, Inc. Proud member of the Alexandria, MN community for over 27 years.



Gene F. Serba Navy 4 years

Al Shea Navy 4 years

James Shea Army-PVT 4 years

John Shea Army-PVT 4 years

Leo Shea Army 4 years

Phillip Shea Army-PVT 4 years

Jane (Wagner) Skwira Army 1972-1974

Charles L. Snelson

Donavon Charles Snelson Navy 20 years

John T. Speirs Army Airborne 2 years

Martin M. Stroh CPL Medics 1949-1954

Willie Stroh Army-PVT 4 years

Matthew Thoennes Army 4 years Died June 13, 2020

Steve Thronson Air Force 4 years

Harriet I. Tolifson Marine Corps 2 years Died December 16, 1994

Army 1940-1945

We Salute all those who have fought for us and sacrificed.

We Care! 2705 S. Broadway • Alexandria, MN 56308 320-763-3360 • 1-800-HAMPTON



Fred Tvrdik Army Air Corps 3 years Died November 24, 1988

Ralph Tvrdik Air Force 4 years

SFC Cal Uhl Army 27 years

Clyde R. Van Cleve Navy 1942-1946 Died September 25, 2015

Dudley O. Van Cleve Army 1917-1918 Died April 15, 1974

Robert D. Van Cleve Navy 1970-1979

Wayne E. Van Cleve Army, 1942-1944 Died December 10, 1944 (KIA)

John Velde Air Force 4 years

Steve Velde Navy 4 years Died February 20, 2017

Christian C. Watson Navy Died 1981

Jake Turner, CVSO & Rhonda Fuchs, ACVSO (P) 320-762-3883 806 Fillmore St. Alexandria, MN 56308



• MEDICAL CARE at Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers to include the Max Beilke Outpatient Clinic in Alexandria. • COMPENSATION for disabilities incurred in or aggravated during active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training. • PENSION for wartime veterans who meet income and net worth guidelines. • DEATH BENEFITS to include burial at the National and State Veterans Cemeteries. • ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS from the MN Department of Veterans Affairs, which can include dental, optical, living costs on a shortterm basis and assistance with rent, mortgage or utilities from the MN Assistance Council for Veterans. • TRANSPORTATION We can assist veterans in getting to medical appointments at the St. Cloud, Minneapolis, and Fargo Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers. 610 Fillmore Street | Alexandria, MN | 320.762.8149 |

**List is not all inclusive**



Steven T. Watson Navy

Thomas Watson Navy Died 1997

Ira D. Way Army-10th Armored Division, Rank Tec 4 1942-1945 Died August 1, 2005

Patrick Wiebe Army 2000-2015

Kristin Towley Wilson Army-Nurse Corps 1973-1995

Robert A. Winter Marine Corps 1966-1969

Harry Wiswell Army WWI Died August 5, 1970

Harvey Wiswell Army-Korea 1952-1954 Died May 18, 2011

Steven Wiswell Marine Corps-Desert Storm, 1989-1993 Died March 29, 2022

Brian Worsech Army 4 years


BRANCHES OF THE Here’s a brief overview of the six service branches of the United States Armed Forces David Wosmek Marine Corps 2 years

MARINE CORPS The Marine Corps is often first on the ground in combat situations. ARMY As the oldest branch of the U.S. Military, the Army protects the security of the United States and its resources. Source:



COAST GUARD The Coast Guard is a maritime force offering military, law enforcement, humanitarian, regulatory and diplomatic capabilities. NAVY The Navy delivers combat-ready Naval forces while maintaining security in the air and at sea.

AIR FORCE The Air Force protects American interests at home and abroad with a focus on air power. SPACE FORCE The Space Force defends U.S. interests on land, in the air, and from orbit with a range of advanced training and technology.

etiquette FLAG

DISPLAYING THE FLAG When displaying an American flag, follow these guidelines: Display from sunrise to sunset on buildings and stationary flagstaffs in the open. When placed on a single staff or lanyard, place the U.S. flag above all other flags. When flags are displayed in a row, the U.S. flag goes to the observer’s left. Flags of other nations are flown at the same height. State and local flags are traditionally flown lower. When used during a marching ceremony or parade with other flags, the U.S. flag will be to the observer’s left. When the flag is displayed over the middle of the street, it should be suspended vertically with the union (blue field of stars) to the north in an east and west street or to the east in a north and south street. When placed on a podium, the flag should be placed on the speaker’s right or the staging area. Other flags should be placed to the left. When displayed either

horizontally or vertically against a wall (or other flat surface), the union (blue field of stars) should be uppermost and to the flag's own right, that is, to the observer's left. When displayed in a window it should be displayed in the same way – with the union or blue field to the left of the observer in the street. When the flag is displayed on a car, the staff shall be fixed firmly to the chassis or clamped to the right fender. When the flag is used to cover a casket, it should be so placed that the union is at the head and over the left shoulder. The flag should not be lowered into the grave or allowed to touch the ground. SALUTING THE FLAG When saluting the flag, following these guidelines: All persons present in uniform (military, police, fire, etc.) should render the military salute. Members of the armed forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute. All other persons should face the flag and stand at

Nearly 3,000 flags, signifying the victims of the September 11 attacks, stand in the lawn near 3M in Alexandria. Echo Press file photo attention with their right hand over the heart and remove their hat or anything covering their head.

After the flag is completely consumed, the fire should then be safely extinguished and the ashes buried.

FLAG DISPOSAL/ STOWING When disposing of or stowing the flag, following these guidelines: Fold in the traditional triangle for stowage, never wad it up in a bunch. The flag should be folded in its customary manner. It is important that the fire be fairly large and of sufficient intensity to ensure complete burning of the flag. Place the flag on the fire. Individuals should come to attention, salute the flag, recite the Pledge of Allegiance and have a brief period of silent reflection.

FLAG ETIQUETTE DON'TS Don’t dip the U.S. flag for any person, flag or vessel. Don’t let the flag touch the ground. Don’t fly the flag upside down unless there is an emergency. Don’t carry the flag flat, or carry things in it. Don’t use the flag as clothing. Don’t store the flag where it can get dirty. Don’t use it as a cover. Don’t fasten it or tie it back. Always allow it to fall free. Don’t draw on, or otherwise mark the flag. Source:


Saluting those who have served. 5005 Co Rd 82 SE, Alexandria • 320-763-4220 1710 Franklin St. N., Glenwood • 320-634-5151




A HERO’S More than 40 years after village was liberated, WWII veterans honored with parade

She also noted that the members of the guard unit that her father served with had yearly reunions in Alexandria the second Sunday of July for 60 years – from 1946 until 2006. By Celeste Edenloff Proud of her father’s time in the military, Wosmek shared ill Platto, a 1940 Alex- the story behind two of the andria graduate, photos she brought in. found out how much Platto was part of a unit his military service meant to that was sent over to liberate a town that he and his Army Putte, Belgium in 1944. While buddies liberated in World in Putte, a local photographer War II – more than 40 years took photos of all the soldiers after it happened. who had liberated the town. Platto went into the service In one of the photos, he capin February 1941. He served tured a picture of his daughin the National Guard Army ter, Godelieve Daans, with two through the summer of 1945, soldiers – Wosmek’s father, according to his daughter, Bill Platto, and another soldier, Lynda Wosmek, who still lives John “Meatball” Metzuck of in Alexandria. Chicago. Wosmek provided the The black and white photo newspaper with some news- shows a picture of the little paper clippings, information girl holding hands with the and photos of her father two soldiers. during the time he served. Fast forward more than 40 years. Platto and some of his National Guard buddies went back to visit the town they liberated. A celebration ensued and a parade was held for those members. Wosmek shared a photo of her father and other soldiers riding in an Army vehicle in the parade. But that is not the other photo with a story. The other photo taken in 1985 shows a picture of Platto next to a young woman in a restaurant. That woman is Daans, the same person Platto Taken in Putte, Belgium in 1944, the had a picture taken with more photographer captured a picture of than 40 years prior. his daughter, Godelieve Daans, with On a piece of paper that two soldiers, Bill Platto of Alexandria, Wosmek shared with the right, and John “Meatball” Metzuck of newspaper, it said, “Her mothChicago. Contributed photo




In 1985, Bill Platto of Alexandria, a veteran, visited the town of Putte, Belgium, and met up with Godelieve Daans, whom he first met in 1944 when she was a little girl. Her father took photos of soldiers who had liberated the town of Putte and he took a photo of Daans and two soldiers, once of which was Platto. Contributed photo er, Den Dok, was also present with the other villagers at the gathering for the returning soldiers. It is an example of how the villagers never forgot their liberators.” WORDS FROM THE FAMILY The following information was provided by Platto’s family. It was written after a column from the Douglas County Historical Society ran in the Nov. 3, 2006, issue of the Echo Press. Bill Platto was the secretary/treasurer for the Battery C Club for the past 12-15 years. In that capacity and during that time frame, he planned reunions for his fellow veterans from National Guard Battery C Regiment 217 and Battery B Regiment 494. These veterans were from Minnesota – many from Alexandria and the surrounding area – Illinois, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Texas and California. Reunions were held in

Alexandria from 1946 to 2006. Since officers for the Battery C Club were elected annually, others were involved in planning the reunions, notably the late Julian Newhouse of Alexandria who served as secretary/treasurer for many years. These reunions were very important to the Battery C and Battery B men. However, after 60 years, the group decided the 2006 reunion would be the final one. As secretary in 2006, Platto had in his possession the memorabilia that was recently donated to the Douglas County Historical Society. Discussion at the reunion resulted in a mandate to give the newspaper clippings, photos, minutes from all reunions and more to the DCHS because of historical significance. The group of men who left Alexandria on the troop train on Feb. 25, 1941, bound for Camp Haan in California, were a special breed. They joined other young men who were

Bill Platto, middle, and his National Guard Army buddies were part of parade in Putte, Belgium in 1985. The troop they were a part of helped to liberate the town in 1944. Contributed photo

gone from home and families for more than four years. Battery C and Battery B spent three years in Europe on battlefields, leaving the U.S. on Aug. 1, 1942. In 1985, when a group of them went back to Putte, Belgium, the city they had liberated during WWII, the townspeople held a parade in their honor. These men – many of them from Alexandria originally – felt like heroes. Platto remembers one of the townspeople who had witnessed the liberation telling him that their children and their children’s children, and on and on, would always know what the men had done for Putte, Belgium. Another way the Battery C and Battery B men were heroes has to do with their record of surviving the 159 days under constant fire and shrapnel bombings and strafing by German bombers. B Battery had the highest percentage of hitting German Buzz-bombers – 85% accuracy. Douglas County has a wealth of history within the walls of the Douglas County Historical Society – the Battery C/Battery B donation of memorabilia is a very important addition for the public to view, according to Platto’s family.

Bill Platto of Alexandria pictured while serving in the National Guard Army. He joined the military in February 1941 and got out in the summer of 1945. Platto was a 1940 Alexandria graduate. He passed away in 2010. Contributed photo

THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light, What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming, Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming? And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there, O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave? “The Star Spangled Banner” Francis Scott Key (1814)




assist veterans

Staff members at the Douglas County Veterans Services office want to help area veterans find out what benefits might be offered to them, as well as assist them with any other questions they may have. Jacob Turner, a veteran of the United States Army, is the Douglas County Veteran Service Officer. Rhonda Fuchs, a veteran of the United States Navy, is the Assistant Veterans Service Officer. Turner and Fuchs are fully accredited with multiple organizations and everyone in the office has been through suicide prevention training. Below is the contact info for the office, as well as email addresses for each staff member: Veterans Service Office (inside the Douglas County Services Center building)

806 Fillmore St. Alexandria, MN 56308 Phone: 320-762-3883 Fax: 320-762-3094 Jacob Turner – Rhonda Fuchs – rhondaf@co.douglas. BENEFITS Both can assist veterans and their dependents in obtaining benefits from the U.S. Department of Public Affairs and the Minnesota Department of Veteran Affairs. Benefits include: Service connected disability compensation Non-service connected pension Dental and optical vouchers for both qualified veterans and their spouses

Burial benefits for qualified veterans dependents and survivors pension for the surviving spouse of a deceased veteran Veterans can also receive assistance with transportation to and from Minneapolis, St. Cloud and Fargo VA medical facilities, as well as many other benefits. ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES First and foremost, veterans services officers act as advocates for veterans. They can help veterans with the following: Filing of disability compensation claims Applying for healthcare benefits Help with non-service-connected pensions Advocate for state benefits

REA Salutes All Veterans. We thank you for your sacrifice and service.

Thank you for your service, we honor our great military!

Residential/Commercial Cleaning Service Alexandria | 320-763-5551 Morris | 320-589-2334 PAGE 26



Jacob Turner, right, a veteran of the United States Army, is the Douglas County Veteran Service Officer. Rhonda Fuchs, a veteran of the United States Navy, is the Assistant Veterans Service Officer. Lowell Anderson / Alexandria Echo Press Assist with applying for all benefits for the veteran and/ or the widow or dependents of the veteran Resources for information regarding all benefits and programs both veteran and non-veteran NUMBERS SERVED 2022 (Jan. 1 through Sept. 15) Office visits – 715 Phone calls – 1,663

Home visits – 13 Emails – 1,320 Van riders – 132 Forms completed – 1,169 2021 (Jan. 1 through Sept. 25) Office visits – 709 Phone calls – 1,844 Home visits – 9 Emails – 1,001 Van riders – 48 Forms completed – 1,090

The Veterans Crisis Line is 1-800-273-8255. Preventing veteran suicide is a priority for the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs. Suicide has claimed more than 100 Minnesota veteran lives per year during the past five years. As this rate continues to increase, especially among younger veterans, the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs is collaborating with others to identify the root causes of veteran suicide and create an innovative, cooperative way to reverse this trend. The Veterans Crisis Line is the world’s largest provider of crisis call, text and chat services, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. It serves more than 650,000 calls every year, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Users may also text to 838255 or chat online to receive confidential crisis intervention and support.

2020 (Office closed March 17 through June 1 and van rides canceled from March 26 through June 21 due to COVID-19) Office visits – 646 Phone calls – 2,179 Home visits – 13 Emails – 1,261 Van riders – 105 Forms completed – 1,261 FACTS AND FIGURES 2,707 veterans in Douglas County

312,843 total veterans in MN 103,168 Vietnam War veterans 45,769 Gulf War veterans (post 9/11) 33,638 Gulf War veterans (pre 9/11) 21,324 Korean War veterans 7,308 WWII veterans 91.7% are male 8.3% are female Source: Minnesota Department of Veteran Affairs

You our men and women in uniform, past, present, and future, God bless you and Thank You.

39204 County Road 186, Sauk Centre, MN Located right off I-94

320.351.7533 • SALUTE



From page 5

Throughout his time being deployed and seeing the things he saw, Ron said he was prepared for everything. “When you prepare yourself, you have to also be grounded in something, and I was grounded in my belief in God and he showed up,” said Ron. “My team was the only team in Afghanistan that didn’t get hit with an IED or was ambushed or ran into Soviet pressure plate mines.” When Ron was at NDSU, he was also an enrollment officer, so he recruited hundreds of students, he said. All of them who joined did so because they wanted to do their part, Ron said, noting that he would tell them to try and be prepared no matter what job they wanted. He said they needed to be prepared when they were deployed so that their survivability would go up. Ron is proud that he served and has no regrets, but also said being deployed is hard. “I think the hardest thing for me being in the military while deployed was seeing death,” he said. “That was the hardest thing, especially when I had just talked to some of those guys that night. And then in the morning, they’re gone. Is



that something anyone can prepare themselves for?” He answered by saying to a point you can, but it is hard because no one wants to die. “Well, everyone knows that we’re all going to die eventually, but you don’t want to die in that circumstance. You don’t want to die at that age,” he said. Ron shared that if those who served need help in any way, to know there is always help available and to reach out. SHE SERVED IN THE NAVY AND ARMY Rebecca, who grew up in southern California, graduated from California State, University of Bernardino, which is where she ended up joining the United States Navy. She was going to school for nursing when during her sophomore year, some recruiters came and offered her a scholarship in nursing. She accepted, joined and then the Navy ended up paying for her last two years of school, she said. Rebecca had thought about joining the military as both her grandfathers are veterans – one is retired from the Coast Guard and the other is retired from the Navy. She remem-

““When I thought about being deployed, I thought I’d be on a hospital ship, going somewhere, floating over to some humanitarian mission or some place of mercy, not in the middle of Afghanistan, opening up a hospital, teaching them how to use everything.” REBECCA JOYCE Naval Officer and Army Reservist

bers hearing their stories, so she had thought about it, but never did anything until the recruiters came to the school. She graduated from college in 1994 and was commissioned as an officer into the Navy the same year. Being a Navy nurse was now her full-time job. She was first stationed at Camp Pendleton in California, where she learned a wide variety of nursing skills. She also learned that with more years and more service, she could move up in ranks, but that also meant a desk job was in her future. “The reason I went into nursing is because I wanted to care for people,” she said. After some research, she learned that a Navy nurse practitioner would still be able to see people in a clinic so she went back to school to become a nurse practitioner. After schooling and moving from one base to another, Rebecca landed at the 29 Palms, a Marine Corps base. She noted that the Navy provides medical care at Marine bases.

She was stationed with them, working in the ER, for the first six years of her Navy career. In December 2000, she was done with school so she petitioned the Navy for a position as a nurse practitioner. They had an opening, but it was in Japan. “So, I ended up packing up my family (herself and her husband at the time) and we moved to Japan,” she said, noting that she worked in a clinic doing family medicine and urgent care at the Navy base. Halfway through her stint in Japan, Rebecca became pregnant. Her daughter, Jessica, was born at the Yokosuka Naval Hospital, which they had to fly to. But they did that because that way she could get her daughter’s passport sooner and the two of them could go back home for maternity leave. Eventually, she ended up back at 29 Palms working as a nurse practitioner in the family medicine clinic. Then, in February of 2006, she was told she was being deployed

and that she would be leaving in March. Her daughter was 3 years old at the time. Rebecca explained that the Navy was augmenting the Army mission in Afghanistan because they didn’t have enough Army personnel to supply all positions. Navy reservists and active duty sailors were being pulled from all over the country. She trained in Mississippi for about eight weeks, learning how to drive Humvees, carry weapons and “all the other stuff you don’t do in the Navy.” She arrived in Afghanistan in May 2006 and was there until about May 2007. While there, she was more in an administrative role, teaching others how to use the hospital and all its equipment. And she managed the medical team.

“When I thought about being deployed, I thought I’d be on a hospital ship, going somewhere, floating over to some humanitarian mission or some place of mercy, not in the middle of Afghanistan, opening up a hospital, teaching them how to use everything,” said Rebecca. But while in Afghanistan, Rebecca ended up being stationed at the same base as her now husband of 14 years, Ron. That is where they met. She ended up leaving the Navy in 2008 and moved to Minnesota. She had 14 years active duty with the Navy, but ended up leaving because she didn’t want to spend any more time away from her daughter. “I missed my daughter’s whole fourth year of life,” she said. “I didn’t want to do that again.”

Fast forward a few years and Rebecca decided to join the military again. She tried to go back to the Navy, but was told they didn’t have a need for nurse practitioners. “I walked next door to the Army recruiter and said I want to come back to the military. I have 14 years in and I want to be able to retire from the military,” Rebecca said. “They said they’d take me, so I filled out the paperwork, raised my hand and was back in the military.” That was in 2011. And in 2013, she joined the Army reserves, which she is still a part of. She belongs to a medical unit that drills in Fargo. In March of 2018, she ended up being mobilized to Fort Hood, Texas and was there until the end of February 2019. Her unit provided medical

Rebecca and Ron Joyce care to the soldiers that were either going overseas or coming back from deployments. In December, she will retire after serving nearly 23 years in the military. Both Ron and Rebecca, when asked if they would do it all over again, said they would. But are also both happy with the lives they are living now running their winery and supporting veterans in the area.

Shop Local.

Support Local. The Money Spent Here, Stays Here in Alexandria.

Thank You to all the Veterans that have served this country over the years!! Dave, Debbie Bistodeau and Crew Viking Plaza Mall Alexandria Albertville Premium Outlets

DOWNTOWN & PLAZA LIQUOR Downtown by Big Ole & next to Viking Plaza, Alexandria

Feature pricing every day on many Minnesota wines, beers and liquors! • 320-762-2697



Veterans Memorial Park

MORE THAN 7,000 NAMES inscribed at

The Alexandria Veterans Memorial Park is a 501c3 nonprofit organization. It is located along Broadway Street at the corner of 8th Avenue. The park, which was dedicated on July 4, 2020, honors veterans, living or deceased, by having their names, years of service and branch of service engraved on granite monoliths standing in the park. More than 7,000 veteran names have been engraved already and more will be engraved at later dates. The main focal point of the park is a 9-foot granite replica of the Liberty Bell, which is placed in the center of a pentagon and star if seen from above. Nine flagpoles can also be found in the park, which display flags of the United States, State of Minnesota, POW-MIA, Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine. There is also a picnic pavilion and a heated restroom complex. The Veterans Memorial Park is wheelchair accessible. To submit a veteran’s name, there is a form on the Veterans Memorial Park website.

RUSS OORLOG Chairperson



People can submit an application for themselves or another veteran. A $100 donation is requested to honor individual veterans, but if people are unable to pay, they are encouraged to reach out via phone at 320-460-8303 or email at Special recognition will be provided at no charge to any veteran who qualifies as POW, KIA, MIA or as a Medal of Honor recipient.

COMMITTEE MEMBERS The Veterans Memorial Park Committee is made up of veterans who have served in the United States Armed Forces, and includes representatives from the following veterans organizations – Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Marine Corps League, Fleet Reserve Association, Vietnam Veterans of America and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Here are the committee members, according to the Veterans Memorial Park website: Russ Oorlog, chairperson, Vietnam War veteran (Cold




JAMES "JIM" CONN Secretary

War era) – Oorlog served in the United States Army from 1966 to 1968, with the majority of his time being an Infantry soldier in Vietnam. He spent 35 years as a summer resident of the area and permanently moved here in 2009. His wife, Mary, was born and raised in Alexandria. It was Oorlog and Gabe Pipo who first came up with the idea of a public veterans memorial for the community, which has evolved into the Veterans Memorial Park. Ken Voigt, vice chairperson and information manager, Persian Gulf War veteran (Gulf War era) – Voigt served in the United States Navy from 1981 to 2001 as an information systems technician. After his Navy career, he and his wife chose to retire in Alexandria as a good location between their hometowns of Melrose and Jamestown.

Donald C. Johnson, treasurer and CPA, Vietnam War veteran (Cold War era) – Johnson served in the United States Army from 1968 to 1971 and was stationed in West Germany. He retired after working as a CPA for 37 years. He and his wife have lived in Alexandria since 1971. James “Jim” Conn, secretary, Vietnam War veteran (Cold War era) – Conn served in the United States Air Force from 1962 to 1966. He was born in Alexandria and graduated from Alexandria High School. He purchased a summer cabin on Lake Ida in 1997 and built a permanent home there in 2004. For more information, visit the park’s website at or send an email to



To those in uniform serving today and to those who have served in the past, we honor you today and every day. During the Korean War, Paul Hansen served in the U.S. Marine Corps. and served as a field radio operator in Japan. 401 BROADWAY, ALEXANDRIA, MN 320.763.4800

Since 1928 American Cleaners has been a familiar sight on historic Broadway Street in Alexandria.

Thank you to all our service men and women, both past and present. Also, thank you to the military families that supported those brave individuals!

Klimek Bros. Well Drilling, Inc. 24

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2306 S. Broadway St., Suite 4, Alexandria, MN 56308 320-762-5216

702 1/2 Co. Rd. 22 NW, Alexandria


Dr. Elizabeth Amundson

Dr. Tyler Whiting

Dr. David Golke



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