Legionnaire of the Month
To my knowledge, we have completed interviews of WW II Vets from Post 23 who were in Germany or the South Pacific. This will be a tough act to follow and I’ve contemplated ending here. But after further consideration and discussions, I would like to finish with a series of remaining Post 23 members who have 60+ years of continuous membership. According to my count, this would total 8 more members. In order to conclude these by the end of my duties as Commander we need to feature 2 a month. Lisa, who has been most helpful to work with, has agreed to do this. So with that goal in mind we will proceed with our first individual.
The military has a saying “rank has its privileges”, so I’m going to start with Retired Col. Owen Wiese. Owen was born on July 12, 1929 in Garretson. As many may know, Owen’s dad had a military career and served in both WW I & II. He was also in charge of CCC camps during the Great Depression and this required a number of relocations. At the age of 4 they moved from Garretson to northern MN. When the war broke out they moved to Brooklyn NY and lived there for one year. When Owen’s dad was sent overseas the family moved back to Garretson. Owen attended high school here and graduated from Garretson HS in 1947.
It seemed natural for Owen to follow his dad in a military career. He started with an unusual choice, the Coast Guard Academy and he went to New London, CT for training. This training was very challenging and included adventures that none of us would ever encounter. Owen said “During the summer of 1948 my class had the summer training cruise that sailed from New London to England on “The Eagle” (see photo). The Eagle was a 4 square rigged sailing ship where cadets learned seamanship.” (Many of us don’t know what a 4 square rigged ship is—to me photo’s looked similar to a pirate ship.) While in England Owen toured the countryside and took photos of the devastation that had taken place during WW II.
I believe that the Lord plays a role in our decisions and has a purpose in how he directs our life. Rather than continue at the Academy, Owen enrolled at the U of MO majoring in Ag. Economics. Owen’s decision to Attend U of MO was a good one as that is where he met a ‘dashing young lady from Michigan’. We will get back to that love story down the road. While attending college Owen also enrolled in their ROTC program and upon graduation had the rank of 2nd LT.
By June of 1952 the Army desperately needed replacements in Korea. So Owen went to San Francisco where he boarded a plane and flew to Japan. From Japan he took a ship to Korea and then took a train as far north as they could. Owen was assigned to 12th Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division located close to the 38th Parallel. Owen said “occasionally there would be some fighting and the 12th FA would provide artillery fire support to both US and Korean infantry units.” When asked about more details of that experience Owen said he did have a couple of close calls but would prefer not to elaborate.
By July of 1953 Owen had been promoted to 1st LT and the fighting had diminished. He returned to Garretson and began farming. On Sept. 19, 1953 he and that “dashing young lady” I mentioned earlier Lois Jaquays, became husband and wife. It must have been a union meant to be as after 62 years they are still together. While they continued to farm and Lois taught school they also raised 3 daughters. In 1958 Owen completed an Advanced Officers Training Program. Owen continued to serve in the Sioux Falls Army Reserves until 1981. By that time he had advanced to Colonel and was the Base Commander in charge of advanced training for Army Reserve and National Guard personnel in South and North Dakota.
When asked if he had any advice for young men and women regarding the military Owen said “I’d encourage anyone to consider it. They have good programs; good training and you can learn a good skill while receiving good pay. They also help you work on discipline and improve organizational skills.”
Owen said he has seen a lot of changes in Post 23 over the years. “Before our Chicken and Sweet corn feed we used to have Stag Picnics in area pastures. Every Saturday night we hosted Bingo and the Auxiliary served coffee and treats. When Video Lottery came out, that died off. Before Street Dances started we used to have Sports Days that included a Carnival. The Sports Days continued without the carnival and we had street dances. Eventually street dances ended and now Sports Days places emphasis community organizations and activities. We have had to continue to adapt and change with the times. Our Post’s ability to adapt and change has helped us stay strong and active.”
Owen has been an active member of our community since returning in 1953. He has held most every job at Post 23 including Commander. He has been our Post Historian since 1963. Owen has stepped forward and taken on other leadership positions including heading up our most recent fundraising drive which generated over $100,000.00 for needed building improvements.
Owen, we thank you for your 62 years of Continuous Membership and Leadership in Post 23. On behalf of Post 23 and the Garretson Community we want to thank you for your Leadership and Service to our Country and Community.