Altringer, Gelen, Lieder, Peterson to be honored; Shellito will speak.

    A quartet of local veterans will be honored during the 2012 Ox Cart Days Festival, at a Veterans Ceremony that will be held on Friday, Aug. 17 in the University of Minnesota,?Crookston’s Kiehle Auditorium.

    The 2011 Ox Cart Days Festival was the first ever to include a Veterans Ceremony, and a trio of veterans were recognized then. The keynote speaker at last year’s event, longtime state legislator and World War II?veteran Bernie Lieder, is among the 2012 honorees. To be recognized along with Lieder are Bob Altringer, Louis Gelen and Donald G. Peterson.

    The 2012 ceremony will begin at 3:30 p.m. and conclude at 5 p.m.

    Larry Shellito, who recently retired after seven years as adjutant general of the Minnesota National Guard, will offer the keynote remarks. The retired major general was in 2011 appointed commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs.

    More about this year’s honored veterans:

Bob Altringer
    Robert A. Altringer was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1966.  He completed Basic and AIT at Ft. Hood, TX.  He arrived in Vietnam in August 1967. Bob served in Vietnam as part of the Americal Division, 1st Armor Division and 1st Infantry Division (Big Red 1) from August 1967 to August 1968.  While in Vietnam, Bob’s unit was involved in fighting during the Tet Offensive in January 1968 and other campaigns.  His units were involved with the Northern part of Vietnam and then performed duties in the area of Saigon and Tan Son Nhut Air Base.

    Bob joined the Army National Guard in 1971 and served in a variety of leadership positions until his retirement as a Sergeant First Class in September 2005 when he received his honorable discharge.  He served on the state ESNR committee after being discharged from the National Guard.

    Bob is a Lifetime Member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and is also a member of the American Legion.  He is a former member of the Cathedral Church Parish Board, as well as the American Legion Board.  Bob served four terms on the Crookston School Board.  He was recognized as the Crookston Volunteer of the Year in the 1980’s.  Bob served youth in the region from 1990 to 2000 while working at LSS Kairos House in Crookston, and he currently serves the community as a Family-Based Service Provider with Polk County Social Services.

    Bob was born at Devils Lake, ND and moved to Crookston in 1969.  He met his wife Kathy here and has been married for over 40 years.  They had two children, Tracy and Brian.

    Military Awards and Distinctions
    •    Order of Saint Maurice Recipient
    •    Lifetime Member of 1st Cav 1st Regiment Cavalry
    •    Vietnam Service Medal
    •    Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal
    •    Army Commendation Medal 1st, 2nd , 3rd , 4th
    •    Army Commendation Medal w/ Valor
    •    Army Achievement Medal (Five)
    •    Bronze Star
    •    Bronze Star (1st Oak Leaf Cluster)
    •    Humanitarian Service Medal
    •    MN Commendation Service Medal
    •    MN State Active Duty Ribbon (10th)
    •    Combat Infantryman Badge
    •    Overseas Service Ribbon

Louis Gelen
    Louis Gelen was inducted into the U.S. Army on April 13, 1943 at Fort Snelling.  He volunteered for service as a paratrooper.  Louie was processed through Camp Mackall, NC for basic training and was transferred to Fort Benning, GA for paratrooper jump training and graduated as a paratrooper.  He was assigned to the 517th Parachute Combat Team and left the U.S. on May 17, 1944 and arrived in Naples, Italy on May 31, 1944.  The 517th Combat Team jumped behind enemy lines in Southern France in August 1944.  The Combat Team was later assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division and participated with the 82nd in the Battle of the Bulge and remained attached to the 82nd until its arrival in Berlin.  Louie participated in 5 major battles.  He returned to the U.S. from Berlin in December 1945 and was discharged in January 1946.

    Upon return from the service, Louie attended Bemidji State College.  He then served as Bemidji City Assessor from 1947-1951 at which time he applied for service on the MN State Patrol.  He attended patrol school and was hired in February 1952 and served 30 years and retired as sergeant. 

Louie has been a resident of Crookston and member of Trinity Lutheran Church for 60 years.  He was a volunteer fireman with the Crookston Fire Department for 25 years.  Louie was a volunteer with the Tri-Valley Medical Assistance Program for the elderly.  He also volunteered with IRS doing tax preparation for low income and elderly.  Louie has been a member of the American Legion for 66 years and is a lifetime member of the VFW.

Louie has been married to Vera for 63 years.  They have a son, David ( Lucy), a daughter, Lori, and a grandson, Jonathon.

    Military Awards and Distinctions
    •    Good Conduct Medal
    •    American Theater Service Medal
    •    Bronze Arrowhead
    •    European-African-Middle Eastern Theater Service Medal
    •    Honor Flight to Washington D.C. in 2009

Bernie Lieder
    Bernie Lieder hails from Greenwood, MN.  He attended ASTP University of Illinois, Champaign and Purdue University, graduating with an engineering degree.

    Bernie was drafted into the US Army on March 12, 1943.  He was part of Anti-Tank Company, 407 Infantry, 102nd Division.  He was sent to Coast Artillery in Camp McQuaid, CA and also was at Camp Swift, Texas and Camp Dix in New Jersey.  He had a rank of Sergeant.  Bernie started out as a gunner.  He was sent to France in September of 1943 and his unit was the first troops to relieve those of the 29th Infantry Division at Cherbourg on the Normandy Peninsula.  He was in combat in France, Holland, Belgium and Germany until the end of the war.  Bernie spoke German so he was an unofficial translator called upon to translate for the Army during interrogations of German soldiers.  He worked with displaced people (DPS) who were Russian, Polish, Jewish and Hungarian.  They made sure the DPS had food and housing and were contained.  He was at the Battle of the Bulge on December 16, 1944.  His unit was the first American unit to make contact with Russian troops south of Berlin after the war.  He was honorably discharged from the service on March 20, 1946 at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin.

    Bernie married Shirley Bleck in 1952 and she passed away in 2000.  They have 3 daughters: Sue Dundas (Mark) Wells, MN; Heidi Rahe (John) Rensselaer, IN; Jane Whitter (Ken) Coquitlam, BC.  Bernie has 10 grandchildren.

    Bernie was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 1984 and served 26 years.  Throughout his term, he was Chair of the Transportation Committee.

    In 2010, Bernie vacationed with a group that went to Jerusalem, Israel and in that group were Jewish legislators who knew Bernie’s background and he was asked to light the Eternal Flame and to lay a wreath at a Holocaust Museum.

Bernie is a member of the American Legion Post #20 and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #1902.

    Military Awards and Distinctions
    •    Bronze Star
    •    European-African Middle Eastern Theater Campaign Medal and Ribbon
    •    Combat Infantry Badge
    •    Three Overseas Service Bars

Donald G. Peterson
    Donald G. Peterson was born November 15th, 1922 at Sioux City, Iowa.  He moved to Crookston in the fall of 1953.

     Don was drafted into the U.S. Navy in July 21, 1943 and completed Basic Training at Farragut, Idaho.  He served on the USS Honolulu as fire control 3rd Class.  It was one of the biggest cruisers in the war, measuring 608 feet long and 60 feet wide, and had the nickname “Blue Goose”.  It shelled the beaches with its big 6 inch shells so Marines could land.  The Blue Goose crossed the equator many times during its time in the Pacific Ocean.

    The Honolulu was torpedoed three times and bombed once.  One of the torpedoes made a hole 25 feet wide and 29 feet high in the cruiser.  The crew was able to save the ship by counter flooding the other side and kept it afloat.  Eventually, the heavily damaged Honolulu was raised on a floating dock to be repaired.

    All told, there were 16 sailors buried at sea and 54 more were buried at Mannis Island in the Pacific.

    At the end of the war, Don was transferred to the USS Houston.  He was discharged on February 25, 1946.

    Don is a member of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #1902.

Don and his wife Pat were married for 61 years and had three sons, Craig, Aaron and Todd.  Sadly, Pat passed away in 2011.  Don was a teacher for 31 years teaching shop, coaching and refereeing.  Don also built houses throughout Crookston for many years.

    Military Awards and Distinctions
    •    Five Service Ribbons