I had the honor of speaking at the Memorial Day ceremony at Riverside Cemetery in Fargo. I tried to make it personal and meaningful. Due to space limitations, here’s a shortened version of what I said:
I want to talk about some of the people from around here, who I have had the privilege to interview or write about…Neal Hern, a farmer from Miller, S.D., was just 23 years old when he was hit by mortar fire and killed in the Korean War in 1952.
Nola Storm of Fargo is Neal’s daughter. Nola never met her father. He died before she was born.
Nola said, “There’s a big void in never knowing him and touching him. I want to know what his personality was like. I wish I knew what his voice was like, and how he sounded.”
Maj. Ronald Bond of Fargo, age 37, was the pilot of a plane on March 11, 1968, when it was shot down in Vietnam. The plane exploded upon impact. Ronald was killed.
His sister, Judi Maddock, said, “I was shocked when he died. I was proud of him. He was the glue for our family.”
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Bill Crary of Fargo was a 25-year-old medic, serving in the Vietnam War. On May 27, 1970, suddenly and unexpectedly, North Vietnamese troops started firing at his company.
The point man was shot down in an open area. Bill immediately dropped his backpack and ran towards him, carrying only his medical bag. Bill checked to see if he was breathing and tried to lift him up. At that point, Bill was shot and killed.
Sgt. Ken Decker said, “That was the bravest thing I have ever seen…It was heartbreaking to find his body…Bill would have made many good things happen in this world.”
On Oct. 23, 1983, without warning, two trucks with bombs and explosives struck two buildings in Beirut. The terrorist attack killed 241 U.S. troops. One of them was 21-year-old Marine Cpl. John Olson, from Sabin, Minn.
John’s sister, Wendy Olson Lange, said, “It was devastating news…I miss my brother a ton. I think about him every week. I wish I knew what kind of man he would have grown up to be.”
In June of 2005, 32-year-old Bryan Opskar of Fargo was in Iraq during that war, and wrote a letter to his wife, Leandra.
Bryan wrote, “We are going into the biggest fight yet and I’m a little nervous, but everything will be all right. I love you and always have. I can’t wait to get home to you and our future.”
A month later, while he was on patrol, a roadside bomb exploded. Bryan was killed.
To Neal, Ronald, Bill, John, Bryan, all who made the ultimate sacrifice, all their loved ones they left behind, and all of the millions who have answered the call for this great nation, we cannot thank you enough. We will never forget you. Our hearts go out to you.
Thank you for your service, patriotism, heroism, courage, love of country, and for protecting us.
God bless all of you, and God bless America.
Shaw is a former WDAY TV reporter and former KVRR TV news director. Email email@example.com
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