The Army ‘kept us together’

Five veterans of the 11th Armored Cavlry Regiment held a reunion in New Ulm, Monday. The group had a special dinner at George’s Fine Steak & Spirits. The dinner marked the 71 years since they entered the army and served together. L to R: James Hill, Beatty Hanson, Arden Hanson, Carl Vogt, Ken Boraas with Ruth Myhres, Allen DeWolf and his daughter Melissa Walcher

NEW ULM – The 71st reunion of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment was held in New Ulm last Monday.

The five remaining members of the regiment Allan DeWolf, James Hill, Carl Vogt, Arden Hanson and Ken Boraas all gathered at George’s Fine Steak & Spirits for dinner. Each year, the former regiment members choose a location for their reunion dinner. Vogt, a resident of Truman, MN recommended the group dine at George’s. After the meal, everyone agreed it was a great choice for the reunion.

Hanson said the idea to hold reunions came when all of them were still in the service. He said one of the members of the regiment suggested holding a reunion two years after they all left the service. Hanson said at that time he was initially skeptical the reunion would happen, but then in 1956 he got the call. The first reunion was held in La Crosse, Wisconsin with 25 members and their spouses coming back. The reunion has been held semi-annually ever since.

“We all had the army in common,” Hanson said. “that’s what kept us together”

Hill agreed that camaraderie was why their regiment was able to hold so many reunions over the year.

“We had everyone looking out for each other,” Hill said. “I still talk to Arden once a week and the other guys throughout the year.”

Hill also credited the regiment’s positive attitude.

Hanson said everyone in the groups gets along. Occasionally they might argue politics, but it’s doesn’t last long before they share memories about their time in boot camp.

Each of the five remaining members of the 11th Armored joined the service in Feb. 1953. They all came from different communities but they were all met during basic training in Carson, Colorado.

Hill said when stationed in Colorado, they trained for a potential deployment to Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota. If called into action, the regiment would deploy to the base and set up a perimeter around it. Hill remembered most of the drills were in the early morning.

“We drilled enough so we’re ready,” he said. However, the regiment never actually deployed. A ceasefire was declared in Korea the day the men graduated from boot camp. 

Vogt said he was not surprised a ceasefire was declared at that time, but admitted he was elated at this turn of events. However, none of the men knew if the ceasefire would last. They would all remain in the service for another year. 

After the ceasefire, most of the regiment was transferred to Fort Knox, Kentucky before being discharged in Feb. 1955. Only Boraas deployed overseas to Korea. Boraas said while still in Fort Knox he was working as a track vehicle mechanic. He continued to work as a mechanic in South Korea after the ceasefire.

Boraas said looking back on his time in the service he is proud of what he was able to do for his country.

DeWolf had volunteered to serve in Korea, but never left the States during the service. DeWolf had actually enlisted to serve in the army as a favor to a friend named Dale Larson. DeWolf said Larson had been drafted and was nervous about leaving his hometown. DeWolf agreed to enlist if he could stay with his friend and the recruiter allowed it. The two remained friends until Larson’s death a few years ago.

Part of the reunion was dedicated to remembering those who were no longer with them. 

Hill said he often remembers his friend Jim Price who purchased a Corvette after the war. He picked up Hill and the two would go for joy rides. 

In addition to comrades, the men remembered the places from their youth. For the last few years, New Ulm has hosted the reunion because it is centrally located for all the vets. Hanson and Vogt were both originally from Watonwan County and remember spending time in New Ulm and enjoyed returning. 

Vogt said on the weekend New Ulm was the place to celebrate.

“We worked six nights a week, but come Saturday we danced at George’s Ballroom,” he said. “We danced until the wee hours.

Hanson had the first date with his wife Betty at the Kaiserhoff. Now the couple resides in Roseville. Hanson was happy to report the Roseville VFW does serve Schell’s beer.

For the others, New Ulm is a fun community worth exploring. Hill said next year’s reunion will likely be held in New Ulm as well. 

Hill said one of the things that has kept the reunions going strong is a positive attitude and the hope they will be able to meet and swap stories again next year.


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