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Sharing their experiences

Fagen Fighters museum hosts Vietnam veterans gathering

Photo by Sabrina Pankratz Jerry Kyser was one of the speakers at the Vietnam veterans gathering Saturday at the Fagen Fighters WWII Museum. The event included a panel of Vietnam veterans who shared their experiences. For more photos from the Vietnam veterans gathering, turn to page 8A.

GRANITE FALLS — The Fagen Fighters WWII Museum’s first-ever Vietnam veterans gathering brought around 100 Vietnam veterans.

“Diane and I never felt the Vietnam veterans never had a proper welcoming home after the Vietnam War,” Ron Fagen said.

Many came from around the area, including Dale Berg, who came with his wife Marlene.

“This is the first time Ron has had any program for Vietnam veterans, it’s always been WWII veterans. She (Marlene) would bring her dad (Johnie Sturgeon) over for that,” Berg said.

Berg was catching up with his old classmate from Morris, Greg Weiler.

“It’s good to get together with other Vietnam veterans and talk about your experiences,” Berg said.

“We just felt it was long overdue, and we just felt it was right,” Diane said.

The gathering included music by Ed Newberg, an invocation from the new pastor of Granite Falls Lutheran Church, the Rev. Paul Drees, speaker, Vietnam veteran, Jerry Kyser, and a Vietnam veteran panel.

The Vietnam veteran panel included Keith Akre of Granite Falls, Newton Earl of Alexandria, Vince Nordstrom of Willmar, Dave Schmitz of Wisconsin, John Roxbury of Princeton, and Mike Weinfurter of Wisconsin.

Each spoke about their experiences, specifically about piloting the Huey helicopter, Loach helicopter and L-19 Bird Dog, and answered questions from the crowd.

“It was an opportunity re-visit those days,” Diane said.

To close out the afternoon, Ron Fagen gave rides to Vietnam veterans in the Huey helicopter.

“Three flights with Vietnam veterans. Eighteen Vietnam veterans flew, we offered more but some people to didn’t want to,” said Fagen.

Others such as Gail Barber, came from Alexandria with a group of car cruisers, for their annual fall tour.

“My husband, Dan knows Ron very well and he decided this would be good place to go. My husband and I come down for a lot of their programs, so we just brought a few extra guests along,” said Barber.

“The fact that we decided to do that (the veteran gathering), and Ron himself was a Vietnam veteran, the time was right,” Diane said.

“I found out that there are three Vietnam veterans that lived in the area that I didn’t know were veterans,” Fagen said.

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