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Minnesota National Guard
Guard wives bond remains as strong as ever

With the prospect of their husbands leaving to fight the war in Korea imminent, a group of military wives from the Crookston area formed a special connection that, 55 years later, remains unbroken While the women kept in touch - some more than others - Dorothy Helgeson decided about nine years ago it was high time that they meet more often

"Some of our husbands had passed away, but all 17 of us were still around," she said "We didn't see each other as often as we would've liked to, though I said I really missed these girls and wanted to get together at least once a year"
So, at Helgeson's urging, in the fall of 1997, 17 women came from all over the state of Minnesota and North Dakota for lunch and to reminisce about their times at Camp Rucker, Ala The reunion turned into an annual event, with this year's held last Wednesday at the American Legion

"We've only lost three of us, not bad considering our ages," said Helgeson "Some of our husbands used to come, too, and they would go to the other side But now most of them are either gone or sick"

Their husbands, members of the Army National Guard 47th Infantry Division, were called to the camp in late 1950 to train replacement troops for combat in Korea Between Jan 6, 1951 until mid-1953, the families spent anywhere from a few weeks to a year and a half living near the camp, now known as Fort Rucker While the possibility of being sent to Korea existed, few of the men were actually deployed there


A total of 12 women made it to Wednesday's reunion, one of whom called herself a "guest," as she was not the wife of a Soldier at Camp Rucker but nevertheless spent time there Jean Dupont, now living in Colorado, was still in high school when she went down to spend the summer visiting her sisters, Virginia (John) Lang, currently residing in Stillwater, and Pat (Lionel) Anderson of Fisher While she was there, she also helped care for her sisters' six young children

"I got a ride down there with Mary (Flaten) and rode back with someone else," said Dupont "Someone was always coming back or going down"

Flaten, of Grand Forks, recalled that she was a new bride, married in October, when her husband Ronnie's unit was called out in December Because Lang didn't drive, they drove down together "with her four little boys"

"It was ice from Minnesota all the way down to the south," Lang chimed in

Most of the couples had children in tow, ranging in age from newborn to 11 years old, when they arrived at Camp Rucker Some even made the return trip with additional family members

"I went down there with a son and came back with a daughter," Jean (Gerald) Kreibich quipped

Mary Tuseth, who traveled down to Fort Rucker as a single woman, came back married She was visiting her sister, Margaret (Oscar "Ike") Berglund there when her brother-in-law introduced her to Bob Tuseth, whom she barely knew previously Before long, the two were planning a wedding, which the women helped plan

"It was a wonderful military wedding," said Dolly (Don) Youngquist "We all had tears in our eyes"

Helgeson, whose late husband, Milton, was in the Guard, said most of the families lived within close proximity of each other at a small outpost near the camp

"When the kids went to school we played cards," she said "I don't know what we would've done if we hadn't had each other It would have been very lonely These ladies were true friends, helped each other out when needed We were all in same boat, anticipating our husbands going to Korea"

Berglund said she had "wonderful neighbors, though I wouldn't want to go back A lot of these ladies I didn't know well before, but we got to know each other really good down there"

Several families even shared living quarters, though they did have separate bedrooms Dennis and Rose Engen, now of Grand Forks, shared quarters with the Youngquists

"We both had very young children," said Engen "Dolly was a really good friend and we had some good times together It didn't really bother us sharing a home"

"It was an experience living there," Youngquist added "I remember it being very hot"

Although she only spent four months at Camp Rucker before her husband was sent to Korea, Bernice (Lester) Samuelson, of Maple Lake, managed to get close to the other women during that time and said she missed them when she first came back home with her baby daughter and no husband

"We could relate to each other like women whose husbands weren't in the military couldn't," she said

Pearl Radi's husband, Les, was also sent to Korea While at Camp Rucker, she worked for the intelligence office there, but returned to Crookston when he was deployed

Gloria Zak, Vi Christianson and Lorraine Prudhomme could not make it to the reunion this year, but the 12 who were in attendance said they hope they'll be there next year

"We plan to do this until none of us are around," said Helgeson "We're like family, you know"

By Natalie J Ostgaard, City Editor, Crookston Daily Times, 10/3/06
Source: http://www.crookstontimes.com/articles/2006/10/03/news/12news1.txt

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