Twenty-three men were honored with a Quilt of Valor July 30 during a Prairie Days presentation in recognition of, and honor for, their service to our country. The quilts were created by Deb Elrod of Monroe and Marilyn Samson and Marcia Grimm of Prairie City.
Michael Allison: After completing high school, Michael joined the Army in January 1970 and served for three years. He served at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO, Ft. Knox, KY and Ft. Riley, KS. He served in Vietnam as infantry and artillery. Michael was awarded a Bronze Star. Upon discharge he returned home, finished his education, got married and is living the American Dream.
Bryce Beerends: Bryce was working for Rick Susic in Colfax shelling corn and hauling grain before he enlisted in the U.S. Army in September 1971. He served active duty during the Vietnam Era and in the National Guard for two years. Bryce served at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO, Ft. Carson, CO, Ft. Des Moines and, completed infantry training and motor pool. A memorable time was having family and friends visit while he was stationed at Ft. Carson in Colorado Springs. Upon discharge, Bryce went back to work for Rick Susic and then began working at the Farmers Coop in Prairie City for 32 years. Bryce and his wife have three children and eight grandchildren.
Jason Braun: Jason enlisted in the Army Reserves as a junior in high school. He was activated to be deployed overseas seven years later as a member of the Inactive Ready Reserve. In March 1996 he enlisted as a 76 Juliet Military Occupational specialist for medical supplies. He was deployed in January 2003 for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom for a period of 14 months. Jason served with the 172nd Medical Battalion which was stationed in a logistics support area named ‘Anaconda’ near Balad, Iraq. Their main purpose was to distribute medical supplies to various branches, forward support companies, and combat support hospitals. Jason was also responsible for ordering, storing, and inventorying the medical supply warehouse. Upon discharge, Jason got married and resumed his prior job as a programmer at Principal Financial Group.
Mike Burns: Mike joined the Iowa Air National Guard in 1971. He served our country for 22 years during Vietnam and the Gulf War. Mike served at the air base in Des Moines and was working in transportation, loading cargo on C130 / C141, and C5 planes. He also managed the paperwork for airmen to go on commercial flights. Mike went to England, Florida, Idaho, Arizona, Nevada, Mississippi and many more places for training. He received “Transporter of the Year” in 1989. Mike continued working at Vermeer while serving in the Air Guard and he’s now retired. Mike and his wife Patty have two sons and six grandchildren.
Jack Carrothers: Jack attended and graduated high school in Adena, OH. He joined the U.S. Army in 1975 and served during the Vietnam Era for seven years. Jack served in Vietnam, Korea, Ft. Lewis, WA and also served as an Army Ranger. He married his first wife and settled in Bellevue, ID and had two sons who are also military veterans. In 1991 he met his second wife, Joann, and moved to Boise, ID. In 2007, Jack and Joann moved to Colfax to be closer to Jack’s family in Ohio and Joann’s family in Iowa. Throughout his career, Jack has worked in construction, was a warehouse manager at furniture companies and owned Line-X bed liners.
Charles Cole: Charles was working as a diesel mechanic before entering the U.S. Navy in September 1983. He served our country for 21 years being stationed in various locations including CA, ME, IL as well as IA. Charles served onboard the USS Crommelin and the USS Lewis B. Puller, both Guided missile Frigates. He also served as the leading Petty Officer First Class on the USS Fitzgerald and the USS Benfold, both Arleigh Burke-Class Destroyers. Charles served as Chief Petty Officer on the USS Peleliu, an Amphibious Assault Ship. He served on the USS Princeton CG-59, a Ticonderoga-Class Guided Missile Cruiser, being tasked with multiple duties and responsibilities under numerous catastrophic scenarios. His last duty station was Recruiting for the world’s greatest Navy. Charles has received awards and medals too numerous to mention. Upon retirement and transitioning back to civilian life, Charles has had various interesting jobs, and currently is an RV transporter of new 5th-wheel campers and travel trailers all over the U.S. and Canada. Charles has four children and seven grandchildren.
Ralph Cole: Ralph was working at a truck stop as a short order cook before enlisting in the U.S. Navy in August 1983. He served five-and-a half years during the Granada Conflict and served during the time the U.S. embassy was bombed in Beirut. Ralph served onboard the USS Nashville LPD-13 in Norfolk, VA and onboard the USS Edson DD946 in Newport, RI as a boiler technician. Aside from all the responsibilities associated with proper operation and readiness of all equipment, Ralph also was the division supply manager, overseeing the budget for supplies, tools and equipment for their space. He was responsible for base security at the Gate, Pass and ID office and ensured Naval regulations were followed. Ralph received the Battle “E: Ribbon, Sea Service Ribbon and was recommended for the enlisted Sailor of the Quarter. Upon discharge, he attended Bible College and answered God’s call to the ministry. He has ministered for 33 years, has founded the Easton Baptist Bible College which trains men for the ministry. Ralph is a volunteer with the Civil Air Patrol and was the Iowa Wing Chaplain for the State of Iowa for 6 years. He has served as Chaplain Corps Adjutant with the US Service Command, earning the rank of Colonel. Ralph is retired.
Dennis DenHartog: Dennis graduated from Prairie City High School in 1964 and from AIB in 1966 with a 2-year degree in accounting. He entered the U.S. Air Force in 1966 and served in the Security Service branch for 4 years during the Vietnam Era. Dennis was stationed semi-remotely in southern Italy. When Dennis returned stateside, he and Ruth were married and he continued serving at Security Service Headquarters in San Antonio, TX. Upon discharge, Dennis continued his education at Central College in Pella. He has spent 38 years in the financial services and insurance industry. He and Ruth have two children and are blessed with five spectacular grandchildren.
Eugene DeRaad: Gene joined the U.S. Army in May 1960 and served for three years during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He served 32 months in the Quarter Master Parts Center in Ingrandes France as an IBM Machine Operating Specialist. He ordered supplies, equipment and parts for many U.S. military bases throughout Europe. He fondly remembers purchasing a car with three buddies and traveling much of Europe. Also, he remembers going on alert during the Cuban Crisis and seeing the fear in the faces of fellow officers and soldiers that Russia would not remove the missiles aimed at the U.S. Upon discharge Gene worked as a commercial loan officer in banking for 45 years. He was married to his wife, Marilyn, for 54 and a half years until her passing in July, 2019. Gene has two sons, three grandsons, and one great-grandson.
Billy Elrod: Following high school graduation Billy attended trade school for mechanical training. He joined the U.S. Army National Guard in 1964 and trained at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO. Billy served with a tank unit out of the Newton Armory which later became an armored cavalry unit where he continued to do maintenance and recovery work at Camp Dodge. He trained to be a company clerk and later became the temporary commander’s Jeep driver. He worked his way up to Specialist 5 in the motor pool and keeping equipment field ready. After six years of service, Billy continued farming. Billy and his wife have been married for 57 years and have two children.
Lynn Elrod: Lynn enlisted in the Iowa Air National Guard during his senior year at Prairie City High School. He served for six years during the Vietnam Era as an aircraft mechanic with the 132nd Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 141st Tactical Fighter Wing. He also served as a jet engine specialist conducting periodic maintenance on F100s ′s. Lynn received the Minute Man award for exceptional training school grades, he served at Lackland AFB and attended tech school at Sheppard AFB, and achieved the rank of Sergeant. Upon discharge Lynn farmed until 1988 at which time he attended Simpson College and majored in Religion. He answered his call to ministry as a United Methodist pastor until his retirement in 2014, serving God in the ministry for 25 years. Lynn is married to Deb and they have three children and seven grandchildren.
Dennis Kadner: Dennis graduated from Tech High in 1967 and entered the U.S. Navy in October 1967. Following Boot Camp in San Diego, he served during the Vietnam Era on the USS Bonhomme Richard and the USS Enterprise, both aircraft carriers, for three years. Dennis served as an E-3 Machinist Mate and received a medical discharge on July 16, 1970. He began work as a parking attendant and had a career in the heating and air conditioning field. Dennis was married in 1981 to his wife Gladys, they have four children and 10 grandchildren.
Jerry Krueger: Jerry was attending Lincoln Auto Tech School when he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in April 1967. He served four years during the Vietnam War, serving at Lackland Air Force Base in TX, Chanute Air Force Base in IL, Offet Air Force Base in NE and YoKota Air Force Base in Japan. In Japan, Jerry helped with refueling, launch and recovery of aircraft, performed phase inspections and directed and assisted with maintenance. In 1970 at YoKota Air Force Base, 610th Support Squadron, Jerry provided logistical/maintenance support for the attempted P.O.W. rescue. Jerry is married to his wife, Rita, they have two children and four grandchildren. After 39 years, Jerry retired from Iowa Power/Mid American Energy as a dual journeyman, utility vehicle mechanic and foreman, and Combustion Turbine Specialist.
Russell Natelborg: After high school Russell enlisted in the U.S. Army in December 1987 and served almost seven years. He was active duty during Desert Storm in the summer of 1990. Russell spent much of that time at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, GA as a top-secret security agent doing analysis of military communications supporting air surveillance of the Gulf during the War on Drugs Campaign. He served as a night shift supervisor doing Russian surveillance operations. Russell was deployed to Homestead, FL where he helped set up a mobile communications center to facilitate face-to-face briefings with pilots flying over the Gulf. The mission was to intercept drug trafficking out of Columbia. Upon discharge, Russell attended Dordt College. Russell and his late wife, Lori, have three children. He is newly married to Molly who has two children.
Carroll Nolin: Carroll was working at Maytag in Newton when he entered the U.S. Army in December 1956. He served two years, first at Camp Chaffee, AR for basic training. He was sent to Germany in November 1957 and drove a jeep for the 1st Lieutenant Johnson. A fond memory for Carroll was while in Germany he and two other friends went to Brussels, Belgium and went to the World’s Fair and they went to Paris and saw the Eiffel Tower. Carroll also attained the highest score in his company on the firing range and received a free plane ride over the camp and an identification bracelet. Upon discharge, Carroll continued working at Maytag for 10 years before entering a farming partnership and farmed until he was 83 years old. Carroll and his late wife Marilyn had been married for 62 years before her passing. They have three children, six grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
Arnold Sohn: Arnold was working for Nebraska Game and Parks Commission in Lincoln, NE when he joined the U.S. Army in August 1968. He served two years during the Vietnam Era, serving at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. as a Biological Research Assistant in the Department of Experimental Pathology. Upon discharge Arnie returned to his job in Lincoln, NE where he worked another six years. He then accepted a job with the Iowa Conservation Commission (now the Iowa DNR) where he worked for 33 years, and retired in 2009. Arnie and his wife Judy have two children and five grandchildren.
Trevor Sohn: Trevor had finished college and was working when he joined the United States Air Force in February 1992. He served in Missouri. Trevor managed all types of fuels and quality control. He recalls the year in Korea as the best part of his service. After serving four years he returned and began working at the Co-op in Prairie City.
Ronald Dean Steenhoek: Ron graduated from Prairie City High School in 1970 and was working at Colfax Livestock Sales Company prior to entering the U.S. Army on July 3, 1972. He received his draft notice and served active duty two years. President Nixon declared no draftees entering the service after July 1 would receive orders to serve in Vietnam and due to the declaration his service was in the U.S. Ron did basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO. He also served in an Air Defense Artillery Unit as APC Vulcan chaparral air defense driver at Ft. Bliss in El Paso, TX. Ron was awarded a National Defense Service Medal for Rifle Marksman. Upon discharge Ron worked at a grain elevator until he began farming in 1985. Ron and his wife Jean enjoy traveling and spending time with their two sons and daughters-in-law and six grandchildren.
Brian VandeLune: Before Brian entered the U.S. Navy, he had graduated from AIB and was working for a bank in Des Moines. He was farming for a neighbor and was married in September 1967. In January 1968 Brian served active duty in the Navy Reserves as a deckhand and storekeeper Third Class. His wife, Viola, joined him in San Diego, CA in May 1968. In August 1969 he shipped out for Vietnam on the USS Jouett DLG29, a Guided Missile Cruiser. Brian was discharged in December 1969 and continued being an active member of the Prairie City Christian Reformed Church. Brian and his wife, Viola, continue to live on their farm. They have three children and nine grandchildren.
Ronald VanPeursem: Ron was working at Mastermix Feed in Des Moines before entering the U.S. Army in May 1966. He served two years during the Vietnam Era, specifically in Schwabish Gmund, Germany. Ron was responsible for operating the Pershing Missile. Upon discharge, Ron farmed for 50 years, surviving the 1980s Farm Crisis. He has a son and two grandchildren. Ron married Gwen in 2017.
Lawrence Verwers: Lawrence was working at Maytag when he was drafted into the U.S. Army on Dec. 8, 1952. For 16 months he served with the Third Division during the Korean War serving with artillery fire direction command. Lawrence farmed with his brother. He worked for the U.S. government helping to reorganize farming in Bulgaria and Ukraine when communism pulled out of their countries. He has hosted many guests from foreign countries and worked with Iowa sister states in cooperative assistance. Lawrence is married and has three daughters.
Loren Verwers: Loren was working for McKlveen Lumber when he entered the U.S. Army on Dec. 8, 1952. He served 16 months in Korea working with artillery, fire direction control and setting up guns on target. Loren served two years and upon discharge he returned to farming and worked for PAG. He married his wife, Margie, they have a daughter and two grandchildren.
Brian Wilson: Brian graduated from Prairie City High School in 1960 and attended Iowa State University before he enlisted in the U.S. Army Federal Reserves in October 1963. He served six years during the Vietnam Era, taking his basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO. He served with the Quarter Masters at the Supply Depot in Columbus, OH as a supply clerk. Upon discharge in September 1969, Brian started farming and has farmed the family Century Farm until two years ago when he moved to Prairie City. Brian and Louise have been married for 56 years and have two sons and five grandchildren.