The Barron VFW’s service to the community reached new heights in 2021. After a year featuring state awards, charitable events and community service, the Barron VFW celebrated its 75th anniversary by dedicating a new flagpole on Saturday, Nov. 6.
The flagpole is dedicated to a local soldier who was killed in action 77 years ago in WWII, Capt. Maurice R. Amundson.
Amundson, a 1937 graduate of Cameron High School, was awarded the Navy Cross posthumously. According to the Military Times:
“A forceful and courageous leader, Captain Amundson directed his men aggressively and with expert tactical skill and, on July 27, when his company was ordered to spearhead an attack down a narrow neck of land on Orote Peninsula through a particularly strong enemy defensive position, tenaciously kept the attack rolling by his own inspiring valor despite the heavy casualties inflicted on his company. Fearlessly exposing himself to intense hostile fire, he repeatedly moved in and out of the front lines, pointing out targets to his tanks and personally directing the placing of supporting weapons and evacuation of the wounded until he was killed while administering first aid to one of his men. Captain Amundson’s indomitable fighting spirit, unselfish efforts and steadfast devotion to duty in the face of grave peril were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
Amundson’s nephew, Thomas D. Sykes gave remarks on behalf of the family.
“Maurice left behind a mother and three sisters. His father, Helmer O. Amundson, had died in 1939; he was born and raised north of Barron. He and my grandmother, Christine Amundson, lived in Barron early in their marriage in the house next to Dairy Queen [across the street from where the flagpole stands].”
Sykes continued, “After Maurice’s death, [my grandmother] Christine and her three daughters soldiered on, each assisted by a deep Christian faith. Occasionally, after the war, some of the men under Maurice’s command would come from afar to visit grandma. I’m sure she appreciated that.”
Several of the Amundson’s family were in attendance, including Thomas’ mother and father, Dale and Glenna (Amundson) Sykes.
“All six of Captain Maurice R. Amundson’s surviving nieces and nephews are attending—from New York, South Carolina, Washington state, Waukesha and Minnesota,” said Sykes. “This ceremony is important to us. We are so very grateful.”
Amundson studied economics and sociology at St. Olaf University in Northfield, Minnesota, and graduated in 1941 before enlisting in the US. Marine Corps at Milwaukee.
Amundson had extensive experience in the Pacific Theater, and distinguished himself in the battle for Eniwetok, an atoll in the Marshall Islands, in February of 1944.
Amundson and his company’s efforts helped win the second battle of Guam, a strategic location in the Pacific that would help U.S. aircraft reach the Japanese mainland.
“Perhaps the last Barron County soldier to see him alive was another Marine involved in the same attack, the late Lloyd “Snowball” Severud, a spotter who would convey intelligence while up in a tree,” said Sykes.
Sykes concluded his remarks, “This monument and flagpole are lasting. They are made even more important to us by the fact that Maurice is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. We have no local grave upon which to place a Memorial Day flag or flowers. Thank you for graciously helping us perpetuate the memory of Maurice’s patriotism and heroism with this monument and flagpole. Thank you for allowing us to help you celebrate your Post’s 75th anniversary. Thank you for your own service and the sacrifices made by you and your families to secure the freedoms provided by this exceptional nation. We are deeply honored, humbled, and grateful to be in your presence. God bless you and this nation.”
Among the other speakers at the celebration were Barron VFW Post 8338 Commander Mark Klein, long-time member Bard Kittelson, VFW State Commander Cory Geisler, Barron Mayor Ron Fladten and U.S. Rep. Tom Tiffany. Chuck Sandmann served as emcee and Mary Ann Conklin gave the invocation and closing prayer.
Added to the flagpole site next year will be engraved pavers, which are available for purchase from the Barron VFW.
Assisting in the erection of the flagpole were local volunteers from the Barron VFW and American Legion. Sever Rundhaug provided equipment for the installation of the pole, and the concrete work was done by Dave Moin.
This has also been a banner year for the VFW for the fact that two fundraisers to help people with kidney-related health issues raised a combined $30,000. Membership has grown and the post has received state awards.
Barron VFW Post 8338 was presented with two awards at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Wisconsin State Convention held June 23 in Green Bay. The post received a Red Carpet award in recognition of its membership recruiting efforts over the last year in which the post excelled in recruiting new members and grew membership by more than 9% over the prior year. A plaque was awarded to the post to recognize the award. The post also was awarded All State honors for successful participation and completion of a variety of VFW programs such as the Buddy Poppies, Recognition of Community Service Personnel, Participation in Community Projects and support of various Veteran Relief Programs. Barron was part of the 10% of all posts within the state that received All State recognition. For their efforts in leading the post to a successful completion of the All State program Barron Post Commander David Peterson and Post Quartermaster Greg Roth were awarded white service caps embroidered with an All State designation and the year awarded.
They were the first in the organization to receive white caps since Lloyd Erickson and Bob Fladten.
The Barron VFW post and canteen is open to the public seven days per week (Monday through Friday 4 p.m. to close, and Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to close).
Rental is free for charitable events, and $50-250 for other events.
For more information, contact David Peterson at 715-418-9598; Mark Klein at 650-235-5823; or Larry Johnson at 715-205-9567.