Volume 126, Number
June 3rd, 2009
Sheyenne veteran goes on Honor Flight
BY BEK MEREDITH
New Rockford Transcript
They came to North Dakota, a land of burning hot summers, winters when
the earth seemed frozen as a lunar landscape, springs that brought
floods which turned farms and towns into islands and autumns that too
often became winters before the harvest had been gathered.
And descended from those early hardy homesteaders would be many veterans
of the Greatest Generation. An estimated 69,000 North Dakotans served in
World War II and 1,569 made the ultimate sacrifice. Sixteen million men
and women served in the Pacific and European Theatres between late 1941
and August of 1945.
Many veterans, in the years to follow, chose never to speak of the war.
For some, it has taken years to be able to share their stories and the
emotion. America's plunge into WWII changed the way the country
functioned. No aspect of life was untouched. So many veterans are no
longer with us. We are lucky to have a few who are still a part of our
everyday life. A word of advice . . . listen to them.
Axel Nielsen was born in 1921 near Sheyenne. His parents were natives of
Denmark. He attended country school through eighth grade and then took a
year off, "because I knew everything." Smartening up a little more, he
decided to go to high school, two years at Oberon and then he graduated
from Sheyenne High School.
He was farming and working for Albrecht Motors when the news came that
Pearl Harbor had been bombed. He, along with his buddy, Trygve Thompson,
had no idea where Pearl Harbor was so they went down the street to ask
Al Palmer, the local barber, "because he was one of the smartest guys in
town." He got out his maps and so began a war story. Suddenly, the
ordinary became extraordinary. Axel's brother was called and that left
Axel to help with the farm. No way was he going back to the farm so he
and Trygve drove to Fargo.
Thinking they could serve together, they enlisted. But they went
separate ways. Axel was 20. After nine days of basic training at Camp
Crowder, Mo. he was transferred to Camp Murphy, Fla. for six weeks of
training on a new ground radar system. The 579th Signal Aircraft Warning
was organized at Drew Field, Tampa, Fla. They were a group of 47 men,
all a part of the 13th Army Air Force. After two weeks at Camp Stoneman,
Calif., Axel and his buddies were shipped overseas to the South Pacific.
They arrived at Noumea, New Caledonia. Fierce fighting was going on at
nearby Guadalcanal. The 579th spent six months running radar at Belep
Island before going on to Guadalcanal where they reorganized for the
invasion of Green Island. All this time, the Japanese were flying closer
and closer around them. At one time they were 21 miles away.
Axel talks about the great morale breaker, Tokyo Rose. Her radio show,
the Zero Hour, was targeted against American servicemen.
Because the radar outfit had the finest radios, other servicemen would
join them to listen to what was popular at the time, such as the World
Series. They also listened to whatever Tokyo Rose had to say. She would
start out, "Boys on Green Island, what are you doing while your wives
and girlfriends are running around having a great time with other men?
Don't you wish you were home? We'll just have to pay you a visit." As
the Japanese kept moving south, Axel's troop moved from Belep Island, to
Guadalcanal, to Green Island.
Ten percent of the men were lost to malaria, jungle rot and suicide. It
was two years of island hopping from the Coral Sea to the Philippines.
The soldiers took synthetic quinine tablets to fight malaria and many
suffered from dengue fever, similar to West Nile. They ate Spam, Spam,
Spam, more Spam and tuna.
After two years in the Islands, the 579th returned to San Francisco,
Calif. for advanced radar training and their first furlough. The trip
home took 24 days on a Dutch freighter. In October of 1944, he had his
first month-long furlough home. After that he went to the 399th Fighter
Squadron at De Ridder, La., and then to Stuttgart Air Base in Arkansas.
He returned home again and on March 3, 1945 married his high school
sweetheart, Lois Strand. They would have three daughters.
He was then sent to LaMoure Air Base in California where his team waited
for orders to be shipped to Okinawa. Their "suicide squad," as it was
referred to, would be setting up an advanced radar unit on Japanese
property. Luckily those orders were never received. The next set of
orders would be to head home.
It is here, again, that Axel breaks down. President Harry Truman ordered
two bombs dropped, one on Hiroshima and one on Nagasaki. On Aug. 14,
1945, the war ended when the Japanese surrendered. On Sept. 15, 1945 a
Peace Treaty was signed.
Axel was awarded the American Theatre Ribbon, WWII Victory Medal,
Asiatic-Pacific Theatre Ribbon and the Good Conduct Medal.
He has served 50 years with the Eddy County VFW Post 3696 and 20 years
with the American Legion at New Rockford. He has been the VFW post
commander for 25 years and is past district commander of the 6th
District in North Dakota. He is also active in The Cooties, a veterans
organization at Devils Lake. He will turn 88 on June 13.
Axel, accompanied by his daughters, Virginia and Diane, and son-in-law,
David Karlsbraaten, traveled with the Honor Flight to Washington, DC on
Sept. 7, 2007. The Honor Flight is a voluntary effort to send veterans
from North and South Dakota and Minnesota to see the WWII Memorial at no
cost to them. He was among 250 veterans who were treated like royalty
and honored for their sacrifices and courage. The veterans donned their
uniforms nearly 70 years ago but to look at the pictures of them in the
nation's capitol on this trip, they appear as proud as if they were
still wearing them.
In Sheyenne our finest community days of tribute are Memorial Day and
the Fourth of July. And our veterans are always at center stage. I hope
we never take them, along with our freedom, for granted. No one wants to
go to war. But serving one's country sometimes asks that of us. To all
who served and are serving, we are grateful.
Axel Nielsen of Sheyenne stands in front of the North Dakota pillar at
the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC. Nielsen was a part of the
Honor Flight which transported WWII veterans to Washington to view the
monument erected in their honor.
Debris and computer glitch cause outlet
A computer glitch and debris caused the Devils Lake Outlet to
malfunction Sunday and water which had been pumped up a hill got away.
There was some minor damage to the rock filter at the top of the hill
but that was repaired and by Friday the outlet was operating at its full
capacity of 100 cubic feet per second (cfs).
The water boiled out the top of the rock filter, filled a slough on Earl
Huffman's property on the south side of the channel and soaked some
nearby fields. It also broke loose at the Josephine Pumping Station and
flooded about 45 acres owned by Huffman. "It'll be a couple years before
that dries out enough for us to use it," Huffman said.
Bruce Engelhardt, engineer with the State Water Commission, said if
there is damage to Huffman's property, the water commission would pay
for the damage. Huffman wasn't so sure. He said the issue would have to
go through arbitration and "I don't know how that will turn out."
The outlet operates by pumping water from Round Lake into the tank on
the north side of Round Lake. Gravity then pushes the water to the rock
filter at the hill south of Round Lake. When the pumps first were turned
on a couple years ago the water pressure was so great it pushed the
rocks out of the filter. As a result a four-piece grate was installed to
keep the rocks in the filter.
Engelhardt said there apparently was a lot of dead material that got in
the pipe last year, such as shrimp shells and algae, plus corn debris
from a nearby cornfield which blew into the rock filter over the fall,
winter and spring. The debris plugged the grate. So the grate was
cleaned and only one pump was turned on with the outlet running at 50
Then a software computer glitch caused the computer to turn on the other
pump, with the outlet operating at full capacity. The grate once again
plugged with debris and the water came rushing out the top of the rock
filter because it couldn't get through the grate into the outlet's
channel. The water went rushing south into Huffman's field and down the
hill north into Long Lake. Huffman saw this happening and wasn't able to
reach Carl Duchscher of Knox, who operates the outlet. Huffman called
911 and they were able to locate Duchscher, who shut off the pumps.
It was decided to remove the top two grates on the rock filter because
the bottom two are sufficient to keep the rocks from being thrown out
into the channel. So now, even if the screen plugs, the water will still
be able to flow over the top of them.
The pumps are being run manually until computer software experts can
make a fix. "It's a learning process," said Engelhardt.
Huffman said there are a lot of problems with the outlet. He said water
is leaking onto his property through the channel walls in several
locations, because, he says, the proper clay liner was not used.
Outlet running at capacity
This is what the Devils Lake Outlet looks like when it is running at its
maximum capacity of 100 cubic feet per second. The water levels and the
sulfate levels in the Sheyenne River are at their optimum for the
outlet's operation. The outlet malfunctioned last week, but it's
apparently operating fine at present. There was some damage to property
owned by landowner Earl Huffman.
The channel into which the water runs carries the water to the Josephine
Pumping Station, where it is again pumped higher through a pipe to a
channel from where it flows by gravity to the Peterson Coulee and then
to the Sheyenne River.
Earn dollars for scholars
Leeds Dollars for Scholars awarded scholarships at class night recently.
Members of the Leeds High School Class of 2009 receiving scholarships
were, left to right, front row, Dustin Paulson, Denage Braaten, Kayla
Bingham and Jason Vallier. Back row, left to right: Daniel Luhman,
Elliott Gunderson, Steve Hausmann, Kyle Britsch and Cameron Leibfried.
Save Our Pool
Leeds first graders were the winners of the "Save Our Pool Penny War."
Students in grades K-6 donated $2,018.47 to help fund repairs for the
Leeds Swimming Pool. Each grade earned a pizza party donated by Chad's
Amoco. Students are shown enjoying the money collected before they count
it at the bank. Left to right are Macy Engstrom, Jarrel McGarvey, Jacob
Pfeifer and Katlyn Bingham.
Leeds first graders present a check for the Leeds Swimming Pool Fund to
Leeds Park Board members Jeff Manley, left, and Brad Kitzmann.
Presenting the check are first graders Madi Dulmage, Tristin Burtchell,
Tim Thayne, Shelby Follman and Alea Manley.
Leeds Students of Quarter
The Leeds High School announces its Students of the Quarter for the
fourth quarter of the 2008-2009 school year. Students are selected for
this honor based on academic performance, cooperation, attitude and
effort, student involvement and responsibility. Left to right are eighth
grader Meghan Jorgenson, daughter of Steve and Geri Jorgenson; junior
Sadie Vallier, daughter of Doug and Carrie Vallier; senior Kyle Britsch,
son of Bryan and Rita Britsch; sophomore Lauren Olson, daughter of Rick
and Bev Robinson; senior Daniel Luhman, son of Mike and Val Luhman;
seventh grader Shelby Jorgenson, daughter of Eric and Christie
Jorgenson; and freshman Thomas Urness, son of Kevin and Tammy Urness.
Speaks to class
Rep. Arlo Schmidt of Maddock spoke to the Maddock eighth grade North
Dakota Studies class after the end of the 2009 legislative session.
The students were interested to hear the process of making laws. Left to
right, back row, are Rep. Arlo Schmidt, Carah Hestdalen, Chelsey Wiegler,
Jaden Kallenbach and Sara Schwanke. In the front row are Jessie Johnson,
Sierra Doornbos, Sandy Baesler, Katelynn Engh and Kathryn Sears.
Team makes school history
The 2009 Leeds Lions boys' golf team made school history May 26 and 27
as the first team from Leeds School to compete at the state golf
tournament on grass greens. Left to right are Brady Stoll, Trevor
Torgerson, Steve Hausmann, Dustin Paulson, Darren Young and Brad Nelsen.
After two days of play, the team placed 14th. According to Coach David
Young, "The second day of state was the best round they shot as a team
all year." Unfortunately high winds made the first day tough and the
boys had a hard time making up those extra strokes. The top shooter of
the team, freshman Darren Young, tied for 31st out of 145 golfers with a
166 overall, only 17 strokes behind the winner. Totals for the rest of
the team were Dustin Paulson, 172; Steve Hausmann, 182; Brad Nelsen,
183; Trevor Torgerson,196; and Brady Stoll, 218.
This is a young team that loses three members due to graduation. But
with the experience of playing at state in their arsenal, expect to see
future appearances at the big tournament.
On May 17 the traditional Senior Tea sponsored by the GFWC Timely Topics
Club was held in Minnewaukan. Music was provided by Minnewaukan School
choir members, directed by Debbie Dyste and the graduates were honored
with special readings and lunch. Those attending were, left to right,
Jacquelyn Armentrout and her mother, Kelly; Elizabeth Beecroft and her
mother, Nicole and Eunice Green and her mother, Marcella.
On May 18 the Maddock seventh and eighth grade classes toured the ND
Heritage Center and Capitol Building in Bismarck and then traveled on to
Washburn to explore the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center and Fort
Mandan. Pictured at the Capitol are, left to right, seated and lying on
the floor in front, Zach Eyl, Jessie Johnson, Alecz Hill and Dylan
Lauinger. Kneeling are Renae Lauinger, Kathryn Sears, Kelsey Smith,
Alexis Huffman, (front) and Jamie Buckmier. Standing, left to right, are
Kaylin Corrington, Erik Broten, Shawn Aabrekke, Katelynn Engh, Carah
Hestdahlen, Kaleb Westad, Zane Paulson, Marty Kueffler (barely visible),
Sara Schwanke, Shelby Brandvold, Sierra Doornbos, Clark Doornbos,
Chelsey Weigler, Andrew Pranke and Sandy Baesler.
Pictured at Fort Mandan are, left to right, front row, Renae Lauinger,
Alecz Hill and Kaylin Corrington. Back row: Alexis Huffman, Dylan
Lauinger, Zane Paulson, Jamie Buckmier, Alex Sabbe, Justin Johnson,
Kaleb Westad, Kelsey Smith, Shelby Brandvold and Shawn Aabrekke.
Suicide prevention team hosts kickball
tourney to share their mission
BY LISA HAWLEY
The students at Minnewaukan Public School have formed a suicide
prevention team in response to students having suicide affect their
immediate family. It is the teams mission to reach out to those in need.
Mark LoMurray of the state suicide prevention program trained members of
the team on the Sources of Strength. The purpose of the Sources of
Strength is for mentors to help those in need find the support available
One of the supports is positive activities. With that in mind, the
students on the suicide prevention team organized a cookout and kickball
tournament for the entire high school May 14.
The victorious student team had to defeat the faculty to claim the
championship. Although the seventh graders beat their peers, they were
not able to outscore the faculty. The event was a great success and the
goal is to make it an annual event.
Other things the suicide prevention team has done since its inception a
few months ago is sell Benson County Wildcats shirts to raise funds. The
funds will be used for various activities and as donations to
individuals who may need financial support to obtain the help they need.
Two students have recorded public service announcements for KUBU Radio
in Fort Totten and one young lady even traveled to Washington, DC this
winter and spoke before a Senate hearing committee.
Older students are volunteering their time to help educate younger
students on the help available to someone contemplating suicide. There
are already plans in place for events next fall when school is back in
One of the saddest statistics locally is the suicide rate on the Spirit
Lake Nation. As members of the Spirit Lake Tribe, students at the
Minnewaukan Public School are working towards learning all they can
about helping to reduce this rate.
They also want you to know that if there is anyone in need of help,
please call the ND State Mental Health Hotline at 211.
Members of the suicide prevention team at the Minnewaukan Public School
try their hands at preparing enough food to feed the entire high school.
Left to right are Devin Anderson, Dalton Longie, Brody Cavanaugh,
Brennen Thompson (hidden by hood), Mandee Neeland, Tori Brown and Cody
Demrae Ami sends the ball on its way while her peers cheer her on. Left
to right are Katelyn Kutz, Ivy Littlewind, Penny Mudgett and Brionne
Jaston McKay prevented instructor Jason Svir from advancing another
base. In the background is Darion Three Irons.
Instructor David Salisbury demonstrates the proper follow-through on his
Students learn about furs in
BY LYNDEE HESER Fourth Grade Teacher
The Minnewaukan School fourth graders had a special guest on Wednesday,
April 22. Mrs. Heser's father, John Hoiland, a farmer and avid hunter
and trapper from Glenburn (about 20 miles north of Minot) visited the
class to teach the students about wildlife in North Dakota. His fur
demonstration was the perfect ending to a unit of study on ND habitats
and animal adaptations.
Hoiland works at Hensen's Taxidermy in the winter months, skinning
various furbearing animals. He shared his knowledge of wildlife with
students and brought several different pelts. Students were able to see
and feel furs from a red fox, beaver, raccoon, mink, weasel, skunk,
muskrat and coyote, along with many others. He also brought a pelt of a
Canadian lynx and timber wolf, even though they do not roam in North
The students asked questions and received treats like homemade venison
jerky, candy and trinkets like rabbit's foot, arrowheads, rattlesnake
toys and Native American jewelry.
This is the third year that Hoiland has given a fur presentation to the
Minnewaukan fourth graders.
Members of the Minnewaukan fourth grade class are pictured with furs
that John Hoiland, their teacher's father, brought to show them. Left to
right, back row, are Mrs. Heser, O'Shea Redfox, Shaylynn Martin, Shania
Longie, John Hoiland, Talissa Ami, Tayea Thomas, James Lovejoy, Kendrick
Pearson, Austin Crosswhite and John Charging Crow. Front row: Brandon
Alberts, Dominquie Brien, Stephon Littlewind, MaKayla Leaf, Paul Azure,
Anglea Young and Thad Schlotman.
Kendrick Pearson and O'Shea Redfox feel the various pelts.
Lake claims Old Highway 281
This view of Old Highway 281 from ND 19 looking south to Minnewaukan
shows the lake has pretty much taken it over. The highway from ND 19
south to Minnewaukan is again closed. Waves have pushed a great deal of
debris, including tree limbs, fence posts, rocks, seaweed, etc. onto the
highway and in places the lake has taken over a good portion of the
road. In this photo the right side of the highway is covered with water.
There's a lot of water between the roadbed and the riprap, so it isn't a
prime fishing spot any more. The road will likely go under the waves
The Presidential Academic Excellence Award was presented to five Maddock
sixth grade students at the annual elementary awards program held May
21. To receive this honor students need a 3.5 average on a 4.0 scale and
must be in the advanced category on the state assessments in the areas
of reading or math. The following students received this award: Quentin
Sears, son of Ann Sears and David Sears; Maria Sears, daughter of Jerry
and Marianne Sears; Alexis Gigstad, daughter of Kevin and Janine Gigstad;
Ashley Risovi, daughter of Robyn Risovi and Ken Risovi; and Alyssa
Armentrout, daughter of Elaine Jones.