Honoring Our Heroes: Veterans Day (November 2022)

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r o i n n o g H OUR

VETERANS NOV. 11, 2022

HAPPY

Veterans Day to all branches of the military force!

We sincerely honor your dedication and sacrifices!

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Saturday, November 5, 2022

JON ADELMEYER ARMY

KEN AEIKENS NATIONAL GUARD

DAVID AHLQUIST NAVY

CLIFFORD ANDREEN NAVY

ALBERT ARDOFF NAVY

CARL ARDOFF ARMY

DAVID ARDOFF ARMY

DOUG ARDOFF NAVY

GEORGE ARDOFF ARMY

GREGORY ARDOFF ARMY E 5

JULIE (VONDERHARR) ASMUS US ARMY NATIONAL GUARD

TIMOTHY ROBERT BAILEY ARMY NATIONAL GUARD SPECIALIST E4 1986-1992

NORMAN BAKER ARMY

HONORING ALL WHO SERVE Blomkest, MN (320) 995-6141

You’ve had our back, now we have yours!

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FOR YOUR SERVICE

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VETERANS DAY 2022

102 Minnesota Ave SW Willmar, MN 56201 Phone: 320-231-2513 Thank you for your service!


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EARL BANKS ARMY

DARYL BARKER ARMY E-4 SPECIALIST

JOHN BARTON

HERB BAUMANN

HARRY BRICKHEIMER AIR FORCE 1933-1970

SPC DEVIN BUNDY

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GEORGE BARTA US NAVY WW2

NATHAN BARTA SSG US ARMY IRAQ AND AFGANISTAN

ARMY NAT. GUARD 22 YR OF SERVICE DEPLOYED IRAQ 05-06 KUWAIT 09-10

PFC ELLSWORTH BJORK ARMY PFC

MICHAEL BLOCK NAVY

MAJOR MICHAEL BUNDY MINNESOTA NATIONAL GUARD

MICHAEL BUNDY E-5 UNITED STATES MARINE CORP

SCOTT R. BUTTERFIELD US NAVY E5

AGNES STRUBE BARTA 1ST LT US ARMY NURSE

SGT SCOTT BECKLER

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Saturday, November 5, 2022

MAHLON CAYLOR NAVY

WINSEL CHRISTIANSEN WW2 1945-1946

KEN COMBS AIR FORCE

SPECIALIST MARIA COOK STEELE US ARMY, THIRD INFANTRY DIVISION 1991-1995

MAJOR MICHAEL COOK US AIR FORCE NATIONAL GUARD FLIGHT NURSE 1994-2018

STAFF SGT. WILLIAM E. COOK US AIR FORCE 16 TACTICAL AIRLIFT TRAINING SQUADRON 1968-1972

LEONARD DEGREE US ARMY

JOHN DILLEY

MATTHEW DINESEN MN NATIONAL GUARD SERGEANT

PERRY DRAGT ARMY 1964

PHIL DRAGT ARMY 1967-1973

RON DRAGT AIR FORCE 1960

LARRY R. DOYLE ARMY WARRANT OFFICER

LEROY EKSTROM ARMY WWII

RUSSYL EMBERLAND AIR FORCE A/1C 1955-1963

God bless the men and women who have served, and those who continue to do so. We thank you.

!

Happy Veterans Day

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With Respect, Honor, and Gratitude – Thank You Veterans

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ARDELL ENGWALL ARMY E-5

DAVE ENGWALL ARMY NATIONAL GUARD KOREA

RON ERICKSON ARMY

RICHARD FERGUSON US NAVY

JOSEPH M FREESE US ARMY SGT

ROLAND FROELICH ARMY WWII

SERGEANT MATTHEW GAUER MINNESOTA ARMY NATIONAL GUARD

ELARD GILBERTSON ARMY CPL

KNUTE GJERDE NAVY

JOHN GRUNDSETH

Saluting All Fellow Veterans Past, Present and Future Thank you to the brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice. 

Thank you Veterans. On this day, we honor all who have served our nation.

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Saturday, November 5, 2022

Help on the homefront Willmar-area nonprofit lending a hand to military members and their families BY SHELBY LINDRUD

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West Central Tribune

t can be a very difficult time when a military family member deploys. Not only is there worry about the safety of the individual, but back home it can be a challenge to keep everything running smoothly without the assistance and paycheck from the person deployed. That is why Homefront Connection was formed over a decade ago — to be on hand to assist the family of the region’s deployed military members. “We had some real busy years when our unit was deployed,” said Dick Reitsma, board president of Homefront Connection. “We were there to help out any way we could.” The group of volunteers helps military families with yard work, car repairs, replacing appliances, picking up after storms and more. The non-profit group would usually be contacted by the unit when a family needed assistance. “Just a lot of things these people experienced when their loved ones were gone,” Reitsma said.

Ron Adams / West Central Tribune file photo HomeFront Connection volunteers have helped military members, their families and veterans for 12 years in and around the Willmar region. When loved ones are deployed, Homefront Connection will help the families with chores and repairs. Back in 2011, volunteers helped paint this Willmar house for a military family.

As the rates of deployment slowed in the latter half of the decade, Homefront Connection turned its attention to another worthy group of people who could sometimes use a helping hand.

Macy Moore / West Central Tribune Hockey players with the Willmar WarHawks make quick work while cleaning up debris at the home of Terrell Myllenbeck near New London on Friday, Oct.14, 2022.

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VETERANS DAY RESPECT | HONOR | GRATITUDE In honor of those who have selflessly given and valiantly served our nation, WE THANK YOU. Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative

THANK YOU TO ALL VETERANS - PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE. WE HONOR YOUR SERVICE TO OUR COUNTRY. WWW.WCSTEEL.COM

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HONORING OUR VETERANS

“Let’s focus on our veterans, see what we can do for them,” Reitsma said. Homefront has stepped up to help veterans with household chores and unexpected expenses, while also sponsoring veterans events such as veterans coffee at the Willmar Community Center and a Let’s Go Fishing event for veterans. This past October, volunteers from Homefront Connection and the Willmar Warhawks hockey team helped clean up the property of a Vietnam veteran who was facing a hefty county fine if the cleanup didn’t take place. The volunteers were able to spruce up the area over a single day. “It just cost us some Subway sandwiches and some time,” Reitsma said. Homefront has also been available to help individual soldiers needing assistance. In one instance, Homefront bought a plane ticket for a solider who wouldn’t have been able to attend their father’s funeral without the help.

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Honoring And Saluting our Heroes

Happy Veterans Day! THE KANDIYOHI COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE Dedicated to keeping our communities a safe place to live.

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Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune file photo Homefront Connection has been helping sponsor the twice monthly Coffee with the Vets at the Willmar Community Center. It is a chance for veterans to gather and enjoy comradery with fellow veterans.


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HONORING OUR VETERANS

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HOMEFRONT From Page D7

Homefront Connection has a sevenperson board, all of whom are veterans themselves. Reitsma said the fact that Homefront is made up of veterans sometimes makes it more comfortable for veterans to accept the assistance. Veterans understand what other veterans might have gone through or are experiencing. “Things like that help too,” Reitsma said. Requests for veteran assistance usually come to Homefront through a county veterans service office. People can also contact Reitsma at 320-8948946. Homefront will do what it can to help the veteran, including reaching out to other organizations and businesses. In past instances, Homefront has partnered with area businesses to help a veteran or military family in need. “When we get a veteran request, we act on it,” Reitsma said.

Macy Moore / West Central Tribune Disabled Vietnam veteran Terrell Myllenbeck, center, is surrounded by members of the Willmar WarHawks hockey team and Homefront Connections following a cleanup effort at the veteran’s home near New London on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE!

HONORING

ALL ALL

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Homefront wouldn’t be able to do what it does without the help from the community. Volunteers make it possible to complete projects, while monetary donations allow Homefront to help without having to worry how to pay for it. “We didn’t do it alone. The community helped us,” Reitsma said. “We’ve been privileged to receive a lot of community support.” Reitsma said there are many organizations out there to help veterans and military families, but they can’t get to everything. Groups like Homefront Connection helps fill that gap, getting to the little projects that can make a huge difference to a military family or a veteran. Homefront Connection will remain on the front lines, helping veterans, service members and their families keep the home fires burning brightly. “We are here for them,” Reitsma said. You may contact the author at slindrud@wctrib.com

West Central Tribune file photo Homefront Connection has also participated at various military family and veterans events over the years.


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ELDON HAUSE ARMY

MARVIN L HEY

DALE HENKELMAN ARMY

MN NATIONAL GUARD, MAJOR DATE OF SERVICE 2/1/60 - 12/31/81

Saturday, November 5, 2022

DUAINE HIRMAN ARMY 1957

GARY HIRMAN AIR FORCE 1966

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THANK YOU VETERANS NOVEMBER 11TH

Home of the Free Because of the Brave

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TO ALL THE VETERANS OUT THERE, WE SALUTE YOU! THANK YOU FOR YOUR SACRIFICE!

BENSON 1501 Minnesota Ave Benson, MN 320.843.4210

WILLMAR 501 19th Ave SE Willmar, MN 320.235.1573

Thank you Veterans!

Past, Present and Future! Good Health Starts with Great Water! LOCALLY OWNED & OPERATED BY: JOHANNECK WATER CONDITIONING, INC. 101 LITCHFIELD AVE SE WILLMAR

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Veterans Day Thank you for your courage,dedication, and hard work. And thanks to the military families for their support, resilience, and sacrifice. Chappell Central

Incorporated 320-281-1647 • 1950 Trott Ave SW, Willmar 56201 www.chappellcentral.com


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We don’t know them all, but we owe them all. JOHN AND GENE HIRMAN KOREAN CONFLICT - 1955

STAN HIRMAN NAVY 1964

Extending our sincerest gratitude to all veterans, past and present. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE TO OUR COUNTRY!

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BRET KASEL

FLOYD HODGE

DONALD KEMP NAVY SEABEES SK3

FLOYD H. JOHNSON ARMY AIR CORP CAPTAIN

CARL KJOS

ERVIN KALLSTOM ARMY

BRUCE A. KLAASSEN ARMY SPEC 5 1968-1971

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE FARMERS & MERCHANTS STATE BANK 239 N Miles St, Appleton, MN 56208 320-289-1454

US ARMY, 13TH PSYCHOLOGICAL OPERATIONS BATTALION DEPLOYED TO IRAQ IN 2003 AND 2006 TO 2007

DAVID KEMP NAVY SUBMARINE SERVICE IC1

AL KLEM US ARMY 1968 – 1971, SERGEANT E-5 RADIO (MORRIS) CODE OPERATOR, COMMUNICATIONS CHIEF. SERVED 18 MONTHS ALONG THE DMZ IN KOREAWITH THE 2ND INFANTRY DIVISION


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Rand Middleton / West Central Tribune file photo When military service members deploy to war zones, they are facing more dangers than just enemy fire. The PACT Act, signed into law in August, provides an easier route for service members to obtain care for medical conditions that are now presumed to be caused by toxins they came into contact with while serving.

PACT Act opens VA health benefits to millions of veterans BY SHELBY LINDRUD West Central Tribune

W

hile in a war zone, members of the armed forces face numerous dangers not least of which is enemy fire. During the Vietnam War, Gulf War and the military actions following 9/11, soldiers also had to deal with exposure to potentially dangerous chemicals and toxins. The consequences of that exposure might not be known for years afterwards, leaving millions of veterans with lifealtering medical conditions and a need for medical care and assistance. On Aug. 10, President Joe Biden signed into law the Sergeant First Class (SFC) Heath Robinson Honoring our

Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, better known as the PACT Act. With this new legislation, those veterans who were exposed to these toxins could be able to get the care they need. “The PACT Act is one of the largest expansions of veterans benefits in VA history,” said David Hintgen, director of Health Administration Services for the St. Cloud Veterans Administration Health Care Services, which includes the VA clinic in Montevideo. “It is expected to impact millions of veterans by creating additional pathways to VA health care.” The PACT Act increases access to VA health care to Vietnam, Gulf War and post-9/11 veterans who served in

war zones and were exposed to toxins while serving. Toxins exposure includes chemicals, air pollutants, occupational hazards and warfare agents. For instance, chemicals can include Agent Orange and burn pits. “Burn pits were heavily used in the post 9/11 era in areas such as Iraq to dispose of waste and other garbage,” Hintgen said. “They pretty much threw everything into those pits and set them on fire.” Occupational hazards could include things such as asbestos or lead exposure and air pollutants may be breathing in too much sand or being to close to oil fires, both of which were big issues for military service members in the Gulf War.

Exposure to these types of elements can cause some serious medical conditions, such as respiratory issues and cancers. Prior to the PACT Act, veterans usually had to prove a medical condition was connected to their service time before they became eligible for expanded benefits. “The burden generally falls on the veteran to prove the condition was caused in service in the line of duty,” Hintgen said. With the passage of the PACT Act, more than 20 medical conditions are considered presumptive conditions.

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These conditions include many different types of cancer — such as brain, gastrointestinal, kidney and melanoma — as well as conditions like chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and chronic rhinitis. “We presume that your presence in that area and that condition was caused by you being exposed during that service period,” Hintgen said. Having these conditions now be presumptive will make it easier for veterans to file claims and receive the care they need. “If you are not already enrolled in VA health care, it is going to make you eligible right off the bat,” Hintgen said. “Now the entire VA health care package opens up to you.” Those who are already enrolled in VA health care and fall under the new PACT Act eligibility rules might see additional benefits to help with medical care such as no copay or prescription costs. “It opens up this huge array of health care services,” from primary

Saturday, November 5, 2022

to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Fridays to talk with someone about their health care eligibility, no appointment necessary. They can also call at 320255-6340. Hintgen urges all veterans to apply for VA health care, even if they feel they are still young or not ill. “Our message is always come see us, let’s sit down and talk about it,” Hintgen said. Veterans can also reach out to their county veterans service officer with questions about the PACT Act and how it might impact an individual. Hintgen said the local VSO should always be a veteran’s first stop when dealing with veterans benefits, before anything or anyone else. “You don’t need a lawyer to file a claim for VA benefits or enroll in VA health care,” Hintgen said. The PACT Act officially went into effect Oct. 1, and Hintgen said the St. Cloud VA is already seeing an impact.

If you are not already enrolled in VA health care, it is going to make you eligible right off the bat. Now the entire VA health care package opens up to you. DAVID HINTGEN care to complicated specialty care, long term care and even home health care, Hintgen said. The PACT Act could also mean those veterans who applied for VA health care in the past and were turned away could find themselves eligible. Hintgen said a veteran’s eligibility could change several times and for various reasons. It never hurts to check your eligibility again. The St. Cloud VA HCS can help with that. Veterans can come to the health care center from 8

Contributed / VA David Hintgen.

PACT ACT: Page D16

Veterans

Honoring all who served and the sacrifices that you have made.

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Minnesota National Guard promotes new brigadier general BY AIR FORCE LT. COL. (RET) AUDRA FLANAGAN AND ROBERT BROWN

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Austin Daily Herald, Minn.

hris Blomquist, the new Chief of Staff of the Minnesota Air National Guard, was promoted to brigadier general during a ceremony at the 148th Fighter Wing, Duluth, in front of family, military leaders, community leaders, and 148th Fighter Wing members on Saturday, Sept. 10. “In your new role as the Chief of Staff of the Minnesota Air National Guard, you are charged with inspiring over 2,200 Airmen at Minnesota’s two flying wings,” said Minnesota National Guard’s Adjutant General Army Maj. Gen. Shawn Manke. Minnesota’s Air National Guard comprises the 133rd Airlift Wing, equipped with C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft in Minneapolis, and the 148th Fighter Wing, equipped with the F-16 Fighting Falcon in Duluth. Cohesion is high on Blomquist’s list of priorities as he assumes this new role. “My goals are to continue improving the organization at a level that extends to both Wings and Joint Force Headquarters,” he said. “I want to bring more jointness or collaboration between the Air and Army. I want to give everyone an opportunity to reach their highest potential and improve the Air National Guard by doing so.” Blomquist had served as commander of the 148th since 2017, where he oversaw two significant mobilization cycles in 2018 and 2022 that deployed nearly half of the Wing’s more than 1,000 airmen overseas to southwest Asia. During his command, Blomquist and the 148th were faced with unprecedented state missions including COVID-19 pandemic support, support of Minnesota floods and civil unrest in the metro, and sending members to conduct security at the 59th Presidential Inauguration. “We prioritize people, modernization and partnerships. I’m excited to help bring my experience in basing

Contributed / Airmen 1st Class Tylin Rust Brig. Gen. Chris Blomquist is pinned by his children during a ceremony on Sept. 10 in Duluth.

discussions and national-level advocacy for modernization to our Air Wings,” Blomquist said. “I look forward to building and strengthening more partnerships across the State with our military, businesses, and civilian and governmental organizations,” he said. Prior to commanding the 148th, Blomquist served as an F-16 pilot, flight commander, chief instructor pilot and flight examiner, 179th Fighter Squadron commander, 148th Deputy Operations Group commander, and 148th Fighter Wing vice commander. His deployments include Balad Air Force Base, Iraq, in 2005 and 2008 and Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, in 2012. Blomquist believes a change in pace will help him and the organization be successful.

“Instead of always being on mission and trying to maximize scarce resources for a Fighter Wing, I’m able to take the time to think and act more strategically and long-term. I can do that for both Air wings now and have the luxury of having a bit more time to think critically and act in the best interest of the Minnesota National Guard,” he said. Blomquist is replacing Brig. Gen. Sandy Best, who retired after 38 years of service to the Minnesota National Guard. “I look forward to meeting more of our Airmen and Soldiers across the State of Minnesota,” he said. “I’m excited to enhance partnerships that ultimately help take better care of our members, their families as well as our State and Nation. I think I bring a unique perspective to modernization

for our Air National Guard and hope to have lasting impacts for the good of our organization.” As a General Officer, Blomquist is no longer authorized to fly Minnesota National Guard aircraft, and he already misses flying. “I was able to retire from flying fighters at the top of my game which is reassuring. My last flight was instructing our newest fighter pilot in a lot of complex mission tasks,” Blomquist said. “I felt like I still had more to give, but flying fighters doesn’t get any easier when you’re in your third command role or at 50! So, as much as I’ll miss it, I look forward to being able to concentrate 100% of my efforts on improving the entire Minnesota Air National Guard.” Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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JIM KLUEGEL ARMY CORP

JOE KOCH ARMY PFC

JEROME KOOPMEINERS NATIONAL GUARD

STEVE KVAAL LTC(R), US ARMY

GERALD LAPATKA ARMY

JEROME ALLEN LEE USAF SGT

DEAN C. LINDQUIST US NAVY DENTAL CORP APRIL 30, 1975- APRIL 22, 1977

RONALD LINN ARMY

GARY LOCHER AIR FORCE

BURT LUNDBERG ARMY SGT

HOMEFRONT From Page D14

“We’ve started accepting applications for care from PACT Act-eligible veterans,” Hintgen said, adding that the Veterans Benefits Association is also accepting claims from veterans who now may be eligible. Hintgen said the act is bound to have a big impact on many veterans, and believe those veterans who served during the Gulf War era will probably benefit quite a bit. Hintgen said those veterans have gotten a bit lost between those who served in Vietnam and the post-9/11 era. “We’ve closed that gap,” Hintgen said. The PACT Act will help make sure even more veterans who need help will have opportunities to get it. And the VA will be there to help them. “We are committed to ensuring our

veterans and their families receive the benefits they have earned and provide them with the best care possible,” Hintgen said. “That is our mission here.”

r o i n n o g H OUR

Contributed / VA The St. Cloud VA Health Care Services provides medical care to veterans from across the region. The PACT Act will open eligibility for those services to many more veterans.

VETERANS


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BURTON MCBROOM MARINES WWII

LT. ART MIDDLETON SERVED IN WWII

GARY NELSON ARMY SPC 4 VIETNAM WAR

VERNON NORLING ARMY

RALPH OLSON 1ST SARGENT

PETER RAMPAART US ARMY MAJOR

SGT. 1ST CLASS PETER MIDDLETON

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GARY MOFFAT

SGT BRIAN MUNDAHL

LTC DAN O’MEARA

PFC GERALD H. OLSON ARMY PFC ALEUTIAN ISLAND CAMPAIGN 1943-1944

PHILLIP OLSON NAVY

CARL HOWARD PETERSON NAVY

KEN PETERSON

VERNON PORTER AIR FORCE

PAUL RAMPAART US NAVY EN-3

JOEL RAWKOWSKI ARMY

ROBERT RIPLEY ARMY

MELVIN ROONEY

LEROY RUBES ARMY KOREA

PRESENTLY SERVING IN THE U.S. ARMY RESERVE

AIR FORCE


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LAWRENCE SCHMIDT

SGT. JOSHUA A SCHMIT US ARMY E-5 KIA IRAQ 4/14/07

SSG GREGORY C. SCHMIT US ARMY E-6

Saturday, November 5, 2022

RICHARD SCHROEDER ARMY

ALEC SCOFIELD

ARMY RESERVES SPECIALIST ALEC IS A 2013 LITCHFIELD HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE AND A 2018 UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA GRADUATE IN COMPUTER SCIENCE. HE IS AN ACTIVE MEMBER OF THE U.S ARMY RESERVE 644TH BRIGADE RSG OUT OF FORT SNELLING.

JUDY SCHULTZ AIR FORCE & ARMY SERGEANT

HERBERT L SHARSTROM

WW2 VETERAN US NAVY SERVED ON THE SHIP/AIRCRAFT CARRIER USS CORREGIDOR PACIFIC FLEE. WAS A SEAMAN SECOND CLASS. DATE OF ENTRY INTO ACTIVE MILITARY SERVICE 06-08-1943 THRU DATE OF DISCHARGE APRIL 20, 1946. WORLD WAR II WAS SEPTEMBER 1, 1939 – SEPTEMBER 2, 1945.

PRIVATE EUGENE J. SELL US ARMY 1ST DIVISION, 26TH INFANTRY REGIMENTSCOUT 1944-1945

LYLE SIMENSON

NAVY AIR LYLE SHOWN ON MIDWAY ISLAND. LYLE WAS A CREW MEMBER ON P.5.M MARLIN SEAPLANE IN THE PHILIPPINES.

WALLY SJOGREN

Thank you for your Service

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CLIFFORD SMITH ARMY KOREA

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Saluting Our Service Men and Women!

Renville, MN 320-329-3663


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Last meeting of Stillwater’s Korean War Last Man’s Club marks end of an era BY MARY DIVINE

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Pioneer Press

t’s been almost 72 years since Gus MacDonald and Charles Ciesman left the Stillwater Armory on a bitter-cold January day and marched down the hill to the train depot to board a Rock Island Line train. The members of the Minnesota National Guard’s Headquarters Company First Battalion and Heavy Mortar Company, both of the 135th Infantry, had been called up to serve in Korea, but first had to report for training at Camp Rucker in Alabama. “Remember when we got off the train in Alabama? Do you remember what the band was playing?” Ciesman, 90, asked MacDonald, 91, during the annual meeting of the H & H Last Man’s Club on Thursday at the Lowell Inn Event Center in Stillwater. MacDonald said he couldn’t recall. “They were playing ‘I Wish I Was in Dixie,’ ” Ciesman said. “We didn’t wish we were there. We wished we were back in Minnesota.” MacDonald and Ciesman were among the 153 young men from Stillwater who fought in the Korean War. When they returned, they formed the H & H Last Man’s Club — which stood for “Headquarters” and “Heavy.” Now, eight members remain. Six were able to attend the 69th reunion on Thursday, Oct. 13 — the group’s last official gathering. “It’s the end of a tradition,” said Retired Major Gen. Lyle Doerr, who lives in Stillwater. “It’s amazing that it

John Autey / Pioneer Press Members of the H&H Last Man’s Club, from left, Charlie Ciesman, George Seim and Vernon Kumerow raise a toast at the 69th and final meeting of the group at the Lowell Inn in Stillwater on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. The men, all in their early 90s, are among a handful remaining of the 153 Stillwater-area veterans who started the club after their service in the Korean War.

has continued for as long as it has. I’m one of the youngest, and I’m 90. We decided this would be a good time to close it out.”

Tradition dates to 1886 The men who met on Thursday were continuing a tradition that began

Happy

Veterans Day

WE ARE THANKFUL FOR YOUR SERVICE! Chef Grant & Cari Huisinga Phone: 320.235.5822 grant@heglundcatering.com Serving Willmar & the Surrounding Communities

in Stillwater in 1886 on the 25th anniversary of the First Battle of Bull Run. Survivors of Company B of the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment formed a “Last Man’s Club” that resolved to meet annually until all 34 Civil War veterans had passed away. It is believed to be the first military Last Man organization in the United

States, said Jack Johnson, a local military historian who helped organize Thursday’s event. The “last man” was charged with drinking a toast to his departed comrades. Charles Lockwood earned that honor in 1930. The reunion on Thursday followed the same format as those Civil War reunions: socializing, a meal, a speaker and a ritual of remembrance for those deceased. A group of World War I veterans from Stillwater in 1932 formed the Last Buddies Bully Beef Club, another Last Man organization. That group’s “last man” was Frank Manning, a former typesetter for the Stillwater Gazette, who died in 1998 at the age of 101. The father of George Seim Jr., a member of the H & H Last Man’s Club, was a member of the Last Buddies Bully Beef Club, which was named for the canned rationed beef the soldiers received. “They always brought a can with them to their reunions, but nobody ate it,” said Seim, 92, of Oakdale. During World War II, Stillwater’s two National Guard companies — Company A and Company D of the First Battalion, 135th Infantry — fought together in North Africa and Italy with the 34th “Red Bull” Infantry Division. A year after returning home, they formed the A & D Last Man’s Club, with 180 members.

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ADAM STALEY, SSG U.S. ARMY NATIONAL GUARD

ALAN STALEY, SFC U.S. ARMY NATIONAL GUARD

BURTON SUNDBERG

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CLYDE STREGE WW2 VETERAN USNAVY

LINUS A. SUESS SR. UNITED STATES AIR FORCE A/3C (P)

ALEX SUNDBERG

RAYMOND SUTTON MARINES

WALTON J. SWART ARMY SPEC 4

JOHN TEBRAKE ARMY

PETER “ANDREW” TENSEN US ARMY PFC

GERALD THIELKE ARMY

DOUGLAS PAUL THOMPSON NAVY E4

ELMO TORKELSON ARMY

JAMES TURNER II WITH PRECIOUS USMC

MARVIN TURNIPSEED

IVAN UNDERLAND ARMY CORP.

DALE VONDERHARR US AIR FORCE

DENNIS VONDERHARR US ARMY NATIONAL GUARD

DOUG VONDERHARR US AIR FORCE

LEO VONDERHARR US ARMY


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Thank You to all members of our military in all branches past and present!

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AL WATKINS ARMY

PAUL WEARDA ARMY

SERGEANT HARVEY WILLPRECHT KOREAN WAR - 1950-1952

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BRIAN WITTMAN ARMY SP4 229TH SIGNAL CO. PIRMASENS, GERMANY

CURTIS WOOD AIR FORCE

PHOTOS SUBMITTED BY KAY WESTLIE BLACK & WHITE PICTURE IS OF HER DAD ON DEC. 7, 1945 WHEN HE WAS DISCHARGED. OTHER PICTURES ARE FROM 1991 WHEN HE WAS HONORED IN THE MONTEVIDEO FIESTA DAYS PARADE. 1 IS WITH HIM HOLDING HER TWINS AND THE OTHER IS WITH HER SON ZACH WEARING GRANDPA’S MARINE UNIFORM. HER DAD SERVED IN THE PACIFIC AS A MEDIC FOR 3 YEARS. HE HAD THE NAVY UNIFORM AND THE MARINE UNIFORM.

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As those numbers dwindled, they joined forces with the H & H Last Man’s Club to hold joint reunions. Jean DeCurtins, the last surviving member of the A & D Last Man’s Club, died in 2019 at 100.

Memories of war

Talk at that Thursday reunion — the first since 2019 — inevitably turned to who would be the H & H Last Man’s Club’s last man and what honor he would receive. Vernon Kumerow and Roger Kuhn joined Seim, Ciesman, MacDonald and Doerr at the head table; Kenneth Streiff and Ralph Utecht could not attend due to poor health. “Nobody knows who’s going to be the last man,” Seim said. “It’s one day at a time.” Doerr said he doubts there will be another Last Man’s group formed in Stillwater. “We haven’t had a new war,” he said. “The way things are now, people serve but not in the units like they did, beginning with the Civil War, where most of the people in the unit were from the same hometown. That made a difference. When they came home, they came home to the town that they had started from.”

Most of the men still live within a few miles of the old Armory in downtown Stillwater. The exception was Kuhn, 92, who lives in Brainerd. He was 20 years old when he arrived in Korea. “I started at Pusan (now Busan) and went up the whole peninsula to the replacement depot in Seoul,” he said. “I was a company clerk. I could type. That saved my life. I didn’t have to shoulder a rifle.” Korea was a desolate place, Kuhn said, and one of his daily tasks involved contacting every battalion and compiling a list of all the soldiers who had died that day. One of his most vivid memories was watching a North Korean man surrender. “He’d floated down the Imjin River all by himself,” he said. One of Kuhn’s friends died in Korea, but he wasn’t a member of the H & H Last Man’s Club, Kuhn said. Roland “Rollie” Palm, a corporal with Headquarters Company, First Battalion, 135th Infantry, was going to school in Winona at the time, so he was in the Winona National Guard unit, he said. “I’m glad to have been a part of it,” Kuhn said. “It’s amazing to think it went all the way back to the Civil War and continued on all the way up the line. Look at all the sacrifices that were made. Most of the officers in the

Guard were World War II officers, and my God, they went through hell. They went to Italy. The 34th Division. It was brutal, just brutal.” Deb Field, of Irvington, N.Y., flew in for the event. Her father, John Ulrich, who died in 2008 at the age of 77, never missed a reunion. “There were few events that he never missed: a (Stillwater High School) Ponies home football game, marching with the Stillwater veterans on Memorial Day and going to the H & H reunion,” she said.

‘No veteran … overlooked’

Lt. Gen. Richard Nash, the featured speaker at the event, said the veterans of the Korean War did not return home to parades, like WWII veterans, or protests, like Vietnam veterans. “Among many Americans, tired of war, there was and seemed a desire to forget and move on,” Nash said. “As one veteran said, ‘We just came home and took off our uniforms and went to work.’ ” But, Nash told those gathered, “no war should ever be forgotten, and no veteran should ever be overlooked.” “Each of you served our nation with incredible courage and commitment,” he said. “You left your homes, your families and you risked your lives in what often has been called the

forgotten war. Today we all want you to know this: We remember. We remember your courage. We remember your sacrifice. The legacy of your service lives on in a free and prosperous Republic of Korea.” The men used to light a candle for each of the fallen, but they had to set that ritual aside years ago when the number of candles became a fire hazard. On Oct. 13, one candle in a wooden holder represented all the members who have died. At the close of the meeting Thursday, the members toasted one another and then stood and faced west — just as they had for the 68 other times. Chaplain and retired Col. John Morris read the last few stanzas of the poem “The Last Survivor.” It was written by Henry Hayden in 1887 for the Civil War Last Man’s Club. It ends with this salute: The campfire smolders, ashes fall. The clouds are black against the sky. No taps or drums, no bugle call. My comrades all, goodbye. Bugler Wesley Balsimo, a senior at Stillwater Area High School, played Taps, and the last candle was blown out on the last gathering of a Last Man’s Club in Stillwater. ©2022 MediaNews Group, Inc. Visit at twincities.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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Happy Veterans Day Home of the free, because of the brave!

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HONORING OUR VETERANS

THANK YOU, VETERANS AND YOUR FAMILIES

for your sacrifices and courage

Saturday, November 5, 2022