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Minnesota National Guard
Flag ceremony honors Poplar man who lived, loved history

Published August 10, 2011, 07:00 AM
A World War II veteran from Poplar who thought it important to share the history of the war will be honored with a flag raising ceremony at 9 am Friday in front of the Richard I Bong Veterans Historical Center

Richard "Dick" Lundberg was a lifelong Poplar resident who served his country during World War II He was born in Poplar on Oct 21, 1919 He grew up on the family farm Dick passed away on April 21, 2011

Dick was inducted in the Army on Oct 18, 1941, at Fort Sheridan, Ill and departed for the war in Europe on April 30, 1942 He served with the Company M of the 135th Infantry Regiment, 34th (Red Bull) Division This Division saw heavy combat and casualties during the war in North Africa and the European Theatre

The 34th Division, along with other units, was responsible for driving the Germans out of North Africa that culminated with the 34th taking Hill 609 in the spring of 1943 From there they went on to Sicily and Italy

Dick shared his memories of the war in the Wisconsin WWII History Series produced by Wisconsin Public Television The following are some of his memories of the struggle in Africa in his own words:
"We were to take the harbor of Algiers, secure the boats and keep them from doing any damage to the harbor We went off nets onto the little destroyers We were laying shoulder to shoulder on them things They had a metal plate about two feet high all around, supposed to protect us from small arms fire All of a sudden, the lights went out and searchlights come on sweeping the harbor They locked right on us I heard a shell go screaming over the bow; the next one hit the boiler room and we stopped almost in our tracks Then one went through that armor plate right next to me; about one guy over from me, killed him, and exploded in the funnel right amongst a bunch of our guys"

Following the defeat of the Germans in Africa the 34th went on to Sicily and Italy There Dick fought in heavy battles at Anzio and Mount Cassino

He spoke of the battle at Anzio saying: "A bunch of firecrackers over your head And artillery is the worst Anzio, they'd cover everything with artillery; there was no safe place there I know one night they just brought us up our rations, and we heard the incoming mail, and we all dove in our holes And the shell hit the edge of my hole and buried me And I don't remember, even -- all I remember there is that I couldn't move my arms or legs And the dirt was drifting in my helmet And I was [having] an awful time breathing I couldn't breathe I don't remember anything more The next time I was out with the guys, and they had dug me out, and that was it If that shell had been one foot over, it would have been right in the hole with me They sent a guy up to help me And he just got up to me and then he got hit I got him to the medics I stopped to talk to one of my other buddies, and a shell landed beside us and he got hit And the funny thing about that was the next day we were in Rome I mean, you'd think you never would see the city of Rome But all of a sudden they just -- the Germans cut off and took back and we were in Rome I would never have thought I could survive all that, but you live through it"

Dick held the rank of Staff Sergeant at the end of WWII Dick was discharged from the military on Aug 11, 1945, and returned to his home in Poplar where he worked at Poplar Hardware During this time he met and married the love of his life, Dorothy

Dick was a regular volunteer at the Bong WWII Center There he would share stories with the visitors about his time in the military and also stories about Dick Bong Sharing the history of WWII was very important to him

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