Bronze Star Medal presented to Adrian native
LUVERNE -- A Bronze Star Medal ceremony led by U.S. Rep. Tim Walz was hosted Saturday morning for veteran Sylvester Lonneman at the Minnesota Veterans Home.
LUVERNE - A Bronze Star Medal ceremony led by U.S. Rep. Tim Walz was hosted Saturday morning for veteran Sylvester Lonneman at the Minnesota Veterans Home.
A few weeks ago, Walz visited Luverne to present another area veteran with a Bronze Star Medal. While there, he learned Lonneman had also received the same award on April 27,1953, for serving in the Korean War. Walz was surprised to hear the medal had been mailed to Lonneman, and decided to present the honor in a proper way.
“Having been almost 64 years since Lonneman was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, this ceremony was long overdue,” Walz said. “I’m humbled to be a part of such a dignified day. I thank Lonneman’s family for reaching out and working together to honor his service.”
The Bronze Star Medal, an award authorized Feb, 4, 1944, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, recognizes acts of heroism, merit or meritorious service in a combat zone.
“You don’t mail a Bronze Star Medal, you present a Bronze Star Medal - especially for a grateful nation,” Walz said.
Lonneman’s daughter, Cindy, sat next to him through the entire presentation while holding a tissue to wipe off her tears. The ceremony filled the room with family members - from two of his brothers, who were also drafted, to his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. In addition, veterans who reside in the home were also in attendance.
“It’s just great that we can all come together to celebrate this beautiful day with my dad,” Cindy said.
Walz said he was humbled to present the medal to Lonneman, and to meet a family that has served the country as well as they have. He noted that the Bronze Star Medal ceremonies are important not only because they show gratitude for those who fought for the freedoms we enjoy today, but also educate younger generations on the sacrifices made by veterans.
“They (the ceremonies) are important for society,” Walz said. “We have these heroes walking among us, and you don’t know it sometimes, but when you present the medal, the medal is a sign of appreciation from the nation.”
Lonneman was drafted in 1951 and a year later was seriously injured by an explosive, which took away part of his hearing and caused severe damage to a leg. Until today, Lonneman has shrapnel on his left foot embedded in his bone. However, after recovering for five months, he returned to defend his country.
In addition to the Bronze Star, Lonneman is also a recipient of the Purple Heart. He was awarded the Republic of Korea War Service Medal, and earned the Combat Infantryman’s Badge.
In March 1953, Lonneman came back from duty to his home in Adrian, where he was a farmer and helped raised nine children with wife Helen. He now resides at Luverne’s Minnesota Veteran Home, and enjoys spending time with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
“In the past several years, he has started to share a lot more of his stories of when he was in the Korean War,” Cindy said. “It’s very interesting to hear how his day went - how cold it got there and what kind of food he had to eat.”
One of his sons, Ron, explained that his dad has always been proud of serving his country and very humble about it. He noted Saturday was a chance to show him their appreciation for the sacrifices he made.
“What we are going to tell him about the ceremony is that even though a lot of people have never said that they appreciate his service, everybody does appreciate his service,” Ron said. “We just want to let him know that he is appreciated for what he did for this country and his family.”