Eugene Froseth

Legionnaire of the Month

The next long time American Legion member we are featuring is Gene Froseth. Gene was born on 9/28/28 on the family farm in Edison Township near the present EROS Data Center. He grew up in the Garretson community and at an early age thought he’d like to fly an airplane. After high school, some of his friends joined the Sioux Falls Air National Guard, so Gene thought, he would do the same. Gene knew he would probably never fly a plane in the Air Guard but still enjoyed being around those who did. Basic Training in 1950 was completed right in Sioux Falls along with any AIT training. Basic and AIT were blended and although he did some marching, most of the training was more like a civilian job. Gene became a clerk and was responsible for doing payroll. This was in line with the type of work he did right after high school. After high school he had gone to work as a bookkeeper for Nash Finch in Sioux Falls. Nash Finch needed his skills in Huron so he accepted a transfer there. While there he found a better paying position with Standard Oil and worked for them for 2 years.

By this time the Korean War was draining US Military Personnel and his Air Guard Unit was activated and Gene was stationed at the Rapid City Airbase. He continued to do payroll duties for the Air Guard for two years while in Rapid. During this time he saw some of his fellow airmen individually shipped to Korea to assist in the war effort. Because of his MOS, he was never sent to Korea but continued to serve in Rapid City. After the war, the unit was de-activated and he moved back to Sioux Falls continuing as a Reserve Air Guard member. Gene stated his duties in the air guard were enjoyable, very similar to that of a civilian job. He recalls doing KP only once and has mostly good memories. While stationed in Rapid, he lived on base and got married to Naomi Johnson and this is where their 1st child was born.

When ask what stands out about those years, Gene commented “They were all good years. At that time Joe Foss was Commander of the Air Guard. He was quite an outstanding Commander and Leader”. Gene’s advice for our youth concerning possible military service was, “if someone is interested and inclined, they should investigate the opportunities available. There are a lot more benefits now then there ever was when I was in the service”.

After returning to the reserve unit in Sioux Falls Gene took a winter job with John Morrell in the scale office. It was a good job and he helped determine productivity and was offered a promotion to work in the “Efficiency Department”. With 20/20 hindsight, Gene says he maybe should have stayed with Morrells, but that spring he wanted to start farming. He farmed until 1954 when he moved to town and purchased a Bulk Oil Company. He continued to operate this for the next 38 years expanding into fertilizer and spraying services. During all these years Gene was active in our community and raised three boys and two girls.

When asked about the history of Post 23 and changes he has seen Gene said “there were some very stressful times after the war. Some that returned had a difficult time and the economy was bad. Many Legion members helped each other adjust and make it through some tough times”. When asked what changes he has witnessed in the Legion Gene said “I think that Post 23 and the members are much more involved with the community, community projects and events. It is a positive change and good for everyone—members and community alike”.

On behalf of the Garretson community and our country, thank you for your Service. On behalf of Post 23, thank you for your 62 years of continuous membership and dedicated service.

Marty Luebke