A Veterans Day tradition for decades, members of the Coon Rapids VFW and Ladies’ Auxiliary visited veterans at Coon Rapids’ two nursing homes Monday.
One VFW group went to Camilia Rose Convalescent Center and another to Park River Estates Care Center.
There are 15 veterans at Park River, according to Vicki Peterson, activities director.
Marv Roepke, Coon Rapids VFW past commander, and auxiliary members Diane Bohlman and Judy Roepke presented the veterans with a goodie bag, which contained a U.S. flag and pin set as well as a baseball hat.
“We thank you for your service,” Roepke told the veterans as he greeted them.
Roepke is a Vietnam veteran. He spent four years in the U.S. Marines and was wounded in action while on the front lines in Vietnam.
Veterans Day is very important to Roepke, he said.
“I’m glad people remember the sacrifices that our veterans have made,” Roepke said.
Vietnam veterans did not receive as much recognition at that time, he said.
“But I didn’t mind,” Roepke said. “I am proud of my service to my country and would do it again if I had to do it over.”
Park River Estates resident Melvin Bruggeman served two years in the military police in Korea in 1951 and 1952 during the Korean War.
“I spent two Christmases there,” he said. “I remember that well.”
And the winters were cold – just like Minnesota, according to Bruggeman.
A resident at Park River for eight years, Bruggeman lived in Coon Rapids for several years before that, owning an appliance store in the city.
Jim Tillman, a native of Sauk Centre, is also a Korean War veteran.
An infantryman in the U.S. Army, Tillman fought in the war for four to five months before he was wounded, he said.
“I had to have surgery on my head, back and hip,” Tillman said.
“I was lucky to make it.”
A native of north Minneapolis, Louis Noard, a U.S. Navy veteran, has been a Park River Estates resident for 11 years.
He served on the destroyer, USS Perry, in 1955-57, primarily in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean as a radar operator with the rank of petty officer, third class, Noard said.
Peter Bodley is at