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452nd General Supply Company marks 50th anniversary

By Bob Emary, Special to The Globe

NEW ULM — On Friday, May 18, 145 members of the 452nd General Supply Company, spouses and widows attended the 50th anniversary reunion at the Best Western Hotel in New Ulm.

The 452nd was an Army Reserve unit stationed in Worthington and Winthrop. This reunion had a theme of “A Time to Honor” and was a time to honor not only the deceased members of the company, but also living members. Following the opening ceremonies, a list of the deceased members was read including ringing a bell after each name was spoken. “Taps” was played by a member of the unit.

The guest speaker was Steven Potts, a former Worthington resident who now teaches history at Hibbing Community College. Mr. Potts has done a great deal of research on the Vietnam War and its impact on communities as well as individuals.

After dinner, a program was held that included a review of the year 1968, a bit of humor, a powerpoint presentation by Dorward and Shirley Dykstra of their November 2017 tour of Vietnam, comments and memories by several members of the company and the presentation of certificates and a gift to the former company commander Elroy Schwirtz of Arlington, Minn.

The 217 men in the company were called to active duty in May 1968. The unit first reported to Fort Riley, Kan., for three and a half months of intensive training. In September 1968, it was deployed to Vietnam and was attached to the 34th Supply and Support Battalion headquartered in DaNang. The company returned to the United States in August 1969.

Most of the company was stationed in DaNang, where it operated an outdoor supply depot.  The men received, stored and issued a wide variety of military supplies, as well as other company and battalion duties. One platoon was assigned to Phu Bai, where they became food handlers for the entire northern area of South Vietnam (I Corps) that encompassed about one-fourth of the country. The main units that were served by the 452nd were portions of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions.

While in Vietnam, the company received several unit citations. Two Individuals received Purple Heart medals, 18 members received Bronze Star medals and 60 members were awarded Commendation medals. These are outstanding numbers of recognitions for a Reserve company while on active duty.

Of the 217 members of the 452nd, f51 are known to be deceased. Many of the deceased had a variety of health issues due to Agent Orange exposure. Some of the remaining members are undergoing health issues related to Agent Orange.

Members of the planning committee for the reunion were Ron Kirchner (Fulda), Ed Freking (Heron Lake), Dorward Dykstra (Bigelow), Doc Ommen (Fulda), Merlyn Buys (Luverne) and Bob Emary (Worthington).