In the holiday spirit, a group of Ecumen volunteers helped out last week at The Anoka Veteran Housing Project, which is providing quality housing for homeless veterans by restoring three cottages at the Anoka State Hospital and turning them into veteran housing.
Bob Roos, 96, recently sat across from Dylan Schuett, 9, telling captivating stories from his World War II service, including the bloody battle of Iwo Jima.
Dylan aspires to open a war history museum one day, and Bob, a resident of Ecumen Meadows in Worthington, Minn., supplied some memorable stories – like how a really nasty jungle bug bite changed his life.
Ecumen of Litchfield resident Wanda Nordlie, 91, was an Army nurse in World War II who helped care for thousands of ill and malnourished prisoners liberated from a Nazi concentration camp in Ebensee, Austria.
“It was a long time ago, but you never forget stuff like that,” she says.
Don and Wanda Nordlie, residents of Ecumen of Litchfield, were at the battle of Iwo Jima almost 70 years ago. He was a Marine sergeant, and she was a nurse.
Two other Litchfield men, Roger Tipka, U. S. Army, and Stan Mortenson, U.S. Navy, also were there.
Don, Roger and Stan raised the flag during the National Anthem at a Minnesota Twins game a couple of weeks ago, no doubt remembering the famous Iwo Jima flag-raising that happened six days into what would be a bloody 36-day battle leaving almost 30,000 dead.
The eyes sparkle and the smile widens as Ken Thompson’s thoughts drift back to the early 1940s. World War II is heating up after the attack on Pearl Harbor — and he will soon be going to Iwo Jima — but right now Ken is a star basketball player at Hamline University at a time when the Pipers are a powerhouse national championship team. And he is in a dance class at Hamline, where he is paired with Helen Backe, by happenstance of height.