Local vet continues to servePublished 5:52am Monday, July 25, 2011
For Bert Hoffman, service to his country did not end when he was discharged from the U.S. Army after serving during the Korean War in the early 1950s.
He has volunteered in various capacities with veterans organizations that do much in support of youth and veterans in need.
“Many of us coming back from the war knew that in addition to raising our families, we also needed to give back to the communities in which we lived,” said Hoffman.
As a Korean War vet, Hoffman worked for Otter Tail Power Company in Rugby and Cooperstown, N.D., before coming to Fergus Falls.
He and his wife, Ann, both retired, stay active with various activities while maintaining close ties with their three children, Deb, Rob and Pam, and their children and grandchildren.
Hoffman is a native of Roseau who joined the Army in September 1951. He took basic training in Hawaii and took advanced training at a specialist school in Japan. Hoffman served 16 months in Korea, as part of the 26th Signal Construction Battalion. He was discharged in September 1954.
“Coming home, I traveled with a shipload of former American POWs who were captured in Korea,” he said. “This put into perspective the sacrifice made by the United States during wartime, in addition to those killed or wounded.”
His military service in the signal construction battalion of the U.S. Army set the stage for Hoffman serving as a lineman in Rugby and later as a service rep for Otter Tail Power in Cooperstown. He ended his career as a dispatcher in Fergus Falls. Hoffman retired in 1996 after 39 years of service to Otter Tail.
It was Cooperstown where Hoffman served as a volunteer leader with Boy Scouts while his son was growing up. He attained numerous scouting awards, including the prestigious Silver Beaver Award.
Hoffman also served on the staff for the woodbadge adult leadership course held at Camp Wilderness near Park Rapids. This was a week-long course to train adult Boy Scout leaders.
In Cooperstown he also was active with Jaycees and Lions organizations, additionally serving on the city council and as a member of the fire department.
Those years in North Dakota also allowed Hoffman to become active in military organizations. He served as commander of the American Legion in both Rugby and Cooperstown. He and a group led the renovation of the old theater in Cooperstown, still in operation today as the non-profit Cooper Theater, Inc.
“While at Cooperstown we also had an organization of the Keystone Kops,” said Hoffman. “One day we had some fun while taking part in the annual water festival parade in Detroit Lakes. Vice President Hubert Humphrey knew beforehand that we would arrest him. Even his secret service crew didn’t know about this prior to the event. Hubert enjoyed pulling a fast one on them.”
In Fergus Falls Hoffman has served in all the VFW chairs (different offices) including the role of commander. He’s volunteered with the Walk of Flags since 2002. On certain days of the year, including holidays, volunteers display 1,710 flags in honor of military servicemen living and deceased.
Volunteering at the veterans home in Fergus Falls has been dear to his heart. Hoffman has been among the volunteers taking veterans on week-long fishing trips to Ely in northeastern Minnesota. He served on the veterans home volunteer advisory committee until 2010.
“It has been a pleasure working with veterans since the doors of the vets home opened in 1998,” said Hoffman.
He also enjoys being part of color guards, a joint effort of both the VFW and American Legion.
“I’ve been part of color guards since the 1970s,” said Hoffman. “We have pride in America and what this nation stands for.”
Hoffman appreciates the efforts of fellow veterans and those currently serving in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and reserve units.
“God bless America, all the veterans and those still serving to keep us free,” he said.