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Moorhead veteran honored

A Moorhead man and 24-year AMVETS member will receive a prestigious award this week that's regarded as the veterans' Oscar. Lyle Usgaard, 71, is a recipient of the Silver Helmet Award after being named the 2005 AMVETS member of the year. The orga...

A Moorhead man and 24-year AMVETS member will receive a prestigious award this week that's regarded as the veterans' Oscar.

Lyle Usgaard, 71, is a recipient of the Silver Helmet Award after being named the 2005 AMVETS member of the year.

The organization is recognizing Usgaard for his leadership in Fargo's AMVETS Post 7 and his extensive community service work, said AMVETS national commander William A. Boettcher.

"For 24 years, Lyle has continuously volunteered his time to improve the lives of our nation's veterans," Boettcher said. "I can't think of anyone who deserves this recognition more than him."

Usgaard has volunteered more than 10,000 hours at the Fargo Veterans Affairs Medical Center and is involved with another dozen area organizations.

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For about 40 years, Usgaard and his wife, Jan, have contributed their time to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

They've helped organize several fund-raising auctions, including one earlier this month that raised about $10,000 for the nonprofit organization, Usgaard said.

Usgaard retired in 1992 after working about 30 years as a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service.

"When I look back, I wonder now how I had time to work," Usgaard said.

After retiring, Usgaard became more active at the VA medical center. His main jobs include working as an escort and delivering specimens to the lab.

Usgaard said he likes the volunteer work because he gets to visit with patients.

"I enjoy being out there mixing with people," Usgaard said. "I try to work with the patients to help them get better."

Usgaard, who served in the Army National Guard and the Navy in the 1950s, is a member of several veterans' organizations.

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He sat on the Moorhead City Council from 1980 to 1985.

Elmer Ekern, department adjutant for the North Dakota AMVETS, said Usgaard is deserving of the Silver Helmet Award.

"It's a great honor," said Ekern of Fargo. "It shows all the works that he has done for veterans and others."

The Silver Helmet Award, a replica of a World War II GI helmet, has been given to about 300 people since 1954.

Four others will receive the award this year, including entertainer Wayne Newton.

Jerome Fjeld of Minot, N.D., won the Silver Helmet in 2003, said AMVETS spokeswoman Amy Burstyn. A North Dakotan also won the award in 1983, Ekern said.

Usgaard and his wife, Jan, will travel to Alexandria, Va., and attend the awards banquet on Saturday.

His volunteer work is what made Usgaard stand out among about 10 other nominees, Burstyn said.

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"He's basically dedicated his life to helping others," she said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590

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