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Sunday is Gold Star Mother’s Day — a day to recognize and honor those who have lost a son or daughter serving the United States Armed Forces.
By Janice Bartnes, Life Enrichment Coordinator, Ecumen Detroit Lakes
Adeline Carlson, a resident of Ecumen Detroit Lakes, remembers that Sunday morning 46 years ago when a serviceman came to her door to tell her that her son Donald had died in the line of duty.
U.S. Army PFC Donald Carlson of Brooklyn Center, Minn., had participated in 25 aerial missions in Vietnam when he was riding in a helicopter and fatally wounded by machine gun fire from another helicopter. That was August 1, 1968. He was 21.
A week after Donald was killed, Adeline remembers having a dream. Donald walked over to her, gave her a hug and rubbed his cheek against hers — something they always used to do. She woke up and could still feel the warmth of him on her cheek. When she looked at him, she noticed his Garrison cap and his Infantry Blue Cord were missing.
“When his belongings were shipped over to us after his death, they were in the box,” Adeline says.
“Every mother wants to hug and kiss their child goodbye,” Adeline says. “I got to say goodbye.”
But Donald is still very much with her. She recalls how as a teenager he enjoyed doing electrical and computer work and had started building a computer before he left for active duty.
He was a loving and considerate son, who knew that novelist Eugenia Price was his mother’s favorite writer. Once, while he was home on leave, Donald called Eugenia and made it possible for Adeline to meet her and have a photo taken. Later, Eugenia mentioned Donald in one of her books.
He was active in his church and led Bible study with other soldiers when he was in Vietnam. After his death, his church — Hope Lutheran Church in North Minneapolis — dedicated its library in his memory.
Donald Carlson received the Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Purple Heart, Air Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge and Good Conduct Medal.
Adeline has three other children, all still living. Her husband, Carl, died in 2002.
Adeline and Carl Carlson in the Hope Lutheran Church Library, dedicated in Donald's memory.