Marine turns 100
NEW ULM–On June 1, the Brown County Commissioners made a proclamation declaring June 19, 2021 “Paul Wojahn Day” in honor of his 100th birthday.
Few people ever receive a proclamation honoring a day in their honor, but few people have lived a life as eventful as Paul Wojahn.
On his birthday, friends and family gathered at Finstad’s Oak Haven Campground to honor Wojahn’s century of life and service to the community.
Members of the Department of Minnesota Marine Corps League also attended the celebration to give Wojahn a plaque and a special salute.
The New Ulm Battery also attended to salute the 100-year-old Marine. The battery fired off three rounds in honor of Wojahn.
The list of Wojahn’s achievements is extensive. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. He made a combat beach landing on New Guinea, Cape Gloucester, and was involved in the battle of Peleliu and Ryukyu Okinawa. He was on Okinawa when the war ended. He was honorably discharged as a private on December 23, 1945.
Back home in Minnesota, Wojahn worked as a farmer and excavator. He was hired as a Minnesota conservation officer and served 25 years enforcing laws regarding hunting, fishing, trapping, recreational vehicles, state parks and wild rice harvesting. Wojahn also taught gun safety classes.
Wojahn retired in 1983 but continues to serve in several veterans organizations including the American Legion, the Disabled American Veterans, the Marine Corps League and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Wojahn held many offices in these organizations including commander. Wojahn is also a member of the Lions organization and usually helped take tickets at their annual fly-in breakfast.
He’s also served as a Salvation Army bell ringer during Christmas charity drives.
Wojahn is perhaps best known for his work with the New Ulm chapter of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV). Wojahn has helped with the local DAV clothing drive since the beginning and is still an active volunteer. He is the organization’s oldest active member. Every Wednesday he helps collect clothing donations.
Several members of DAV attended his birthday to share stories about his service to the organization.
A week shy of his 100th birthday, Wojahn was helping collect DAV donations during a heatwave. This would be impressive work for a man half Wojahn’s age, but as a centenarian, his continued service is inspiring.
During the celebration, many asked the secret of Wojahn’s longevity. Reaching the age of 100 is impressive, but Wojahn has remained in good health and lives independently.
His sister Helen Schroeder credited good genes. Wojahn’s grandmother, Justine, also lived to be over 100.
Wojahn credits his long life with taking things one day at a time. He said if he wakes up in the morning, then he survived the night. He then sees if he will survive the day.
“I learned a long time ago to not worry about it,” Wojahn said. “It will only get in your way.”
Sunday, June 20, the day after his 100th birthday, Wojahn sang with the Christ the King Church choir.
Wojahn’s continued service to the community has proved inspiring to many.
Wojahn’s daughter Bonnie Morris said her father is extremely inspiring and she is proud of how he keeps going.
In addition to his daughter, Wojahn has three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.