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Legion honors veterans on behalf of grateful nation

Guests and staff at Kinnic Health and Rehab near the hospital honored seven residents at an afternoon celebration May 15, with each man receiving an honorary pin and certificate. Left to right: Richard Fox, Earl Mack, Legion member Tom Caflisch, Mark McDonald, John Anderson, Legion Commander Todd Schultz and Lawrence Von Holtum. Not pictured but also honored that day were Arnold Roen and Donovan Obermueller.

RIVER FALLS - An honor celebration held back on May 15 at Kinnic Health and Rehab spotlighted the service of seven veterans living there. Each received a certificate of appreciation and a lapel pin that says: "A grateful nation thanks you, USA veteran."

The ceremony also featured a large poster board showing some old photos of the honorees in their uniforms. American Legion Post 121 Commander Todd Schultz and legion member Tom Caflisch presented the vets with their honors.

The audience heard a little about each vets' service experience.

John Anderson served in the Army for two and a half years, was stationed in the Philippines during WWII and was a message sergeant who decoded messages.

Richard Fox served as an Air Force Captain for three and a half years, serving in Europe during WWII. He flew with Gen. Dwight Eisenhower and remembers feeling fear when he was surrounded by German fighter planes and thought he'd be shot out of the sky.

Earl Mack served in the Air Force Air Defense for 13 years, operating electronic systems in planes and mobile ground radar. He spent time stationed in Goose Bay and Hopedale in Labrador, Canada, as well as Hanover and New Alm in Germany.

Mark McDonald served in the Army during the Vietnam War and was a first lieutenant. The small crowd acknowledged what a poor welcome the returning servicemen had during that war.

Donovan Obermueller served in the Army for two years, including duty as an honor guard stationed at Fort Meyer near Arlington Cemetery, where he stood guard over the body of Gen. John Wainwright.

Arnold Roen served in the Army for three years, two of which were during WWII. He built roads and bridges and was attached to the 38th Infantry Division.

Lawrence Von Holtum served in the Army Airborne Rangers for two years, jumping out of helicopters and airplanes. He also learned survival skills in Florida and trained in New York to use snow shoes.

After the pinning ceremony, the veterans and their guests socialized and enjoyed popcorn, beer and other refreshments.

Kinnic Health and Rehab honored the veterans in conjunction with National Nursing Home week and the upcoming Memorial Day.