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Olson, Billy Dale
B: 10 Apr 1945, Noel, MO
M: 16 Jul 1971, Margie Ruth Weiler, dau of Richard Dick Weiler.
Billy served in the US Navy on the USS Intrepid from 1966-1969. Served in Danang during the Vietnam War. He is the third generation to serve his country.

FN: Luverne Arthur Olson
MN: Ineta Jean Nichols Patrick

Children of Billy Dale Olson and Margie Weiler:

Shane Everett Olson
B: 29 Oct 1971, Hallock, MN
M: Amy Karsky

Darcy Laurae Olson
B: 01 Jan 1975, Karlstad, MN
M: 20 Apr 1996, Darrin Foss

Children of Darrin Foss and Darcy Olson:

Reed Darrin Foss
B: 18 Nov 1998, Thief River Falls, MN

Local veterans receive presidential unit citation

Awards at Memorial Day programs

for heroic service in WWII


Cindy Stewart

Kittson County Enterprise

June 5, 2002

It took 57 years, but for a few Kittson county World War II veterans, it was worth the wait.

The long delayed Presidential Unit Citation for heroic service during the battle of Okinawa was finally approved earlier this year for the 96th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army.

The 96th Infantry Division is now one of only four entire Army Divisions awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for heroic action during WWII.

The award reads:

"This is to certify that the president of the United States of America has awarded the Presidential Unit Citation to the 96th Infantry Division for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an armed enemy ­ April 1, 1945 ­ June 30, 1945."

Five of the members fighting for their country in April ­ June, 1945 were from Kittson County.

Legions in the county honored these veterans at their respective Memorial Day services, May 27.

G. A. Leonard Norberg Post #63, Hallock, honored the late Melvin Anderson. His wife, Francis, Hallock, accepted the honor on his behalf.

Halma-Lake Bronson Olaf Locken Post #315 honored Lloyd Bengston, Lake Bronson; as well as, the family members of Milton Haack and Richard "Dick" Weiler.

Olaf Berquist Post #214, Lancaster, honored Hilson Stewart, Humboldt.

Stewart and Benquist look back on the war and quickly remark that they feel lucky to be alive.

"My most vivid memories of the war are of how lucky I was and still am to be alive," Stewart said.

He remembers one such incident where he was with a fellow infantry division member and his buddy stood in a fox hole, looked through his binoculars and then proceeded to fire.

"We were always told never to shoot out of the same place as were we used our binoculars, because the reflection always gave your location away. I went into a hole before the shot came back at us," Stewart remembers.

Bengston remembers a similar instance where his life was spared.

He recalls being with six other division members, fighting their way up a hill and came upon a cave.

"It was too late to realize but inside the cave were Japs and I landed on my leg. It just happened to be a dud," Bengston said.

These events and more mark the memories of these two Kittson County veterans, who set out on a bus for Fort Snelling back in the 1940s.

Bengston remembers about seven total Kittson County "boys" on the bus. Three of them ended up in the same division of the Army, despite their wishes to sign up for the Navy.

"Most boys wanted to be in the Navy," Stewart said, "but then I decided I always got sick on a boat anyway and changed my mind to the Army."

The three stuck together as far as Camp Wood in Texas for basic training. From there they were sent home for five days on delay, but found themselves together again in Fort Ord, California and Seattle, Washington.

From then on, despite being in the same division, Stewart became separated from Bengston and Anderson.

Their first step on the island of Okinawa was met with very little resistance. After the first week, however, the battle broke loose.

The Army went south and the Marines went north. The enemy managed to hide in caves and grass and trees and kept the 96th Division fighting for many days.

For Stewart and Bengston, they spend time remembering the good times as well as the "rough" times.

They try to reflect on the 50 years since the fighting and the memories and training they received and how it's made an impact on their lives, even to this day.

They want others to know about the history of the Battle of Okinawa and their feelings of joy and relief when the war was finally over.

They'll add one more piece of memorabilia to their war memorials ­ one more award highlighting a division for it's extraordinary heroism and gallantry in the conquest of Okinawa, Japan.

They will never forget how their heroism and continuing demonstration of raw courage exemplified the highest traditions of the military service.