Speakers in 2015


On January 10, Army Brigadier General Ted Johnson, recently retired from the South Dakota National Guard, talked about his experiences directing the Guard through the largest call up of SDNG forces since WWII.  More than 7,200 troops were deployed to support the War on Terror.  He is the only general officer in the SDNG ever to command a combat unit: the 196th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade in Kabul, Afghanistan, from 2010 to 2011.  Photo above: Brig. Gen. Johnson (right) with Gen. David Patreus in 2010. more video newspaper.

On February 14  Wayne Brewster of Rapid City recounted his US Army experiences fighting across Europe, starting on Omaha Beach (first wave) then into the heavily defended Rhineland.  "I was in the  invasion of Normandy on June 6th 1944, scheduled to land 20 minutes after H-Hour, who knows the exact time?

"I was in the combat engineers, attached to the 29th Division.  Our outfit earned five battle  stars.  We were on the same route as Gen. LeClerc’s 2nd Army forthe liberation of Paris, in August.  We crossed the Rhine on a pontoon bridge near the Remagen railroad bridge about a week after it collapsed." more

(Photo by Duke Doering, who added "Wayne Brewster, WW II veteran who landed with the first wave on Omaha Beach on D-Day and fought in Europe until V-E day, addressed the group on Valentine's Day. Without photos, slides or notes Brewster addressed the spellbound crowd with his excellent recollection of events as they occurred throughout his Army enlisted service against the Nazis.")  more

On March 14, Al Glinsmann of Hisega talked about hisexperiences with the 5th Regimental Combat Team in the Korean War, from 1950-1953.  His US Army artillery unit started out on the Pusan perimeter and eventually fought next to the Chinese border at the Yalu River in North Korea.  After the war, he became a Lutheran minister.Of the wartime 30 photos shown, Ray and Josephine Cowdery said that "There are about 10 rare color slides taken in Korea.  We have never seen any original color material like this before." morephotos (Al with folded arms below)

On April 11, LTC George Larson (USAF ret) presented on his latest books on military history, includingGreat Plains Warriors of World War II:  Air Bases and Plants Built for War. The contributions of German and Italian POWs were also discussed. more

On May 9, Maj. Ed "Eagle Man" McGaa (USMC ret) talked about his latest  book, the adventure-filled autobiography Warrior's Odyssey: Spirit of Crazy Horse. McGaa was an F-4 Phantom fighter pilot during the Vietnam War, known for superior performance for Close Air Support and dodging SAMS.  more news


On June 13, combat artist and US Army veteran James Pollock talked about his experiences with the

Vietnam Combat Artists Program (CAT Team IV) in Vietnam in 1967. "I had a canteen, camera, sketchbook, some personal items, and a 45 caliber pistol" he says.

“In 1967, I was a postal clerk for APO 96231, a mini post office on Camp Ames, an army base in a remote area north of Taejon, Korea. As a draftee, I was happy to be in Korea instead of Vietnam. At the time I was never sure about the base's mission, but later I learned the base stored nuclear weapons. One day Sergeant Brooks stepped up to mail something. He said, 'Pollock, I hear you are an artist you might be interested in this.' He handed me a copy of Stars and Stripes and pointed out an article about the army looking for artists to participate in the US Army Vietnam Combat Art Program.” moreWikipediaaudio


On July 11, Mike Birnbaum of Rapid City presented on his Vietnam experiences with the US Army's 9th Infantry Division during 1967 and 1968 and later as only the fifth Command Sergeant Major (ret) in the South Dakota National Guard history.  He is currently chairman of the South Dakota Veterans Commission:

......"I was drafted in to the Army in June of 1967. I did basic at Fort Leonard Wood and AIT at Fort Polk. I had about three weeks leave and arrived in Vietnam on Thanksgiving day of 1967. I spent 14 months in Vietnam, serving with the 9th Infantry Division. I served eight months at Bearcat and then six months at Dong Tam in the Delta. My MOS was 11C, Indirect Firecrewman on the 81 mm Mortar. After leaving Vietnam four years later, I joined the South Dakota National Guard and served until retiring in February, 2006." more

On August 8, Ensign Harold Jansen of Rapid City talked about his experiences in the US Navy during World War II as the US sought to retake the Philippines during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Photo shows Jansen in 1944 at the age of 21, as seen on a 200ft LCT (Landing Craft Tank) in the battle of the Philippines....As a LCT vice-commander, Jansen was present at the final dramatic confrontation between a far superior Japanese battleship armada and a lightly defended Leyte beachhead, with a hodgepodge of outgunned small ships bluffing away the enemy with will power and aggression.... more, animated lesson (keep pressing red arrow on bottom to advance).

On September 12, John F. Wilkinson of Spearfish talked about his WWII experiences as a Spitfire pilot in the RAF.  He flew Hurricanes too.  A US citizen, his daughter was born in Montana.

YouTube video clip: "John on the Hunt" in Spitfire, combat over Germany, April 1945. John Wilkinson flying a Spitfire over Germany in 1945. The video was taken from the wing mounted camera that is only active while firing.  At 17 he lived through the bombing of London during the Battle of Britain.  In 1949, he boarded a freighter bound for America. moreSDPB Dakota Midday, more audio interviewSpitfires

On October 10, Evelyn Lenton of Rapid City spoke about her childhood memories of the Japanese in Occupied Philippines during World War II, along with her midwife mother and brothers, in Manila.  One brother, Arthur age 15, was taken off to harvest crops and was never seen again.

[photo of Evelyn by Duke Doering] One of us in the Group shares that "I am afraid that if my grandfather had not contracted TB when he did, my mother would have had similar experiences in Indonesia during World War II."  more

At the same meeting, Black Hills Scale Modelers presented a 1:48 (14”) model of the A-20 attack bomber to Ellsworth and the South Dakota Air and Space Museum in honor of SD native and WWII A-20 pilot Hilary Cole, who summarized his experiences.  more

On November 14, 1LT Marcella LeBeau spoke about her WWII experiences in the US Army Nurse Corps ministering to the wounded from D-Day beach invasions at Normandy. She went on to Paris, then to Liege, Belgium where she again treated casualties from the Battle of the Bulge, later receiving a medal from the
French Legion of Honor. We climbed down a rope ladder into a landing barge and landed at Utah Beach…and camped at a cow pasture there for a time,” LeBeau explained in an interview with SDPB's Jim Kent in 2015.

“A mere 20 years after the US granted citizenship to the first Americans, a young Miniconjou woman left her reservation in South Dakota and joined the Army Nurse Corps during World War II," writes Native Sun News,describing her as "a member of the Two Kettle Band of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and lives in Eagle Butte, South Dakota. Her Lakota name is Wigmuke Waste Win (Pretty Rainbow Woman)."  [more, story, more audio]

On December 12, USAAF B-17 veteran Maurice Crow reported on his WWII experiences.  "Morry and his crew completed 27 missions during eight months of flying combat with the 8th Air Force in the European Theater, and based on the difficulty of the missions, got credit for 30." more KEVN news clip

Note:  On July 26, B-17 ball (later top) turret gunner Tom Wenn was at the Old Fort Meade Museum in Sturgis to talk about his 25 combat missions in the European theater, with 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses in WW2.  Maurie Crow was there then.  Both men flew from 8th AF out of East Anglia, England.more