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Hay Rivers Quilters honor 86-year-old veteran - Barron News-Shield: Free News

Hay Rivers Quilters honor 86-year-old veteran

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Posted: Wednesday, December 6, 2017 8:49 am

Jim Kittelson has been part of Almena VFW Post 8512 for quite some time.

Sixty-three years, to be exact.

Kittelson, who joined Post 8512 in 1954, was honored Nov. 10, 2017, when the Hay River Quilters presented him with a handmade, patriotic, red, white and blue quilt made by its members.

The presentation took place during the annual Veterans’ Day ceremony at Almena Elementary School.

The quilt was on display one recent November afternoon on the family farm where Kittelson grew up, south of Lower Turtle Lake.

He said the farm includes 147 acres, 90 under cultivation (which are now rented to a neighbor).

Kittelson, 86, said that members of VFW Post 8512 took a vote and chose him to receive the quilt.

Kittelson serves as commander of the post color guard.

“I’ve been doing it forever,” he said. “You do something once, and you get (the job) for life.

“I don’t go to too many of the meetings any more. I can’t hear what’s going on,” Kittelson said. “I’ll show up if there’s something special going on.”

Like the Veteran’s Day ceremony, for example.

Kittelson was drafted into the U.S. Army “at the tail end of World War II. I was in Europe for (Allied Forces) Occupation of Germany,” he said.

That began a total of 13 years of service in the Army and Reserves.

“I was in from 1951 through 1964. Vietnam was just getting started when I left,” Kittelson said.

During one of his subsequent call-ups for active duty, Kittelson didn’t like the job he was assigned to, so he applied to go to school to train for the Signal Corps.

“You had to commit the time (in exchange for the schooling),” he said.

His training complete, Kittelson served two stints in Europe with the Signal Corps. The first assignment was for 19 months. The second was three years.

“I was in Germany most of the time,” Kittelson said.

He recalls working and living in Amberg (in southern Germany near Munich), as well as Fulda, Butzbach and Hanau (near Frankfurt in southwestern Germany).

“I was a shop foreman the first time,” he said. “The second time was a TDY (Temporary Duty Yonder, in military slang). They asked me not to talk about what I was doing. I don’t know if it’s still secret, but I don’t talk about it anyway.”

After the service, Kittelson married the former Leah Bertelsen, who already had children when she became his wife. She passed away several years ago.

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