WWII vets tight group [UPDATED]Published 6:33am Monday, March 4, 2013 Updated 8:37am Monday, March 4, 2013
Four Fergus Falls gentlemen gathered for a birthday lunch Thursday at the American Legion. They have all lived in the same cul-de-sac in the 300 block of Linwood Court for more than 50 years, and they are all good friends.
Nothing too special about that, until you consider that they are also World War II veterans.
“I think this is a little unusual,” said Jim Amdal. “It was so long ago that most everybody else is gone.”
Amdal, a U.S. Navy veteran, turned 93 Thursday. He decided to take his three WWII veteran friends and a few others out for lunch. They included Navy vet Abe Sorensen, 93, U.S. Army vet John Aune, 90, and U.S. Army Air Corps vet Duane Larson, 85. They didn’t seem to mind joking around with each other about their ages, either.
“Then we got one young one,” Amdal said, of Larson. “In his 80s.”
Amdal and Sorensen both joined the Navy in 1942 when they were 22 years old. They each spent time in the Pacific Ocean during the war.
“The only thing good about it was the weather,” Sorensen said.
He spent four years in the Army, three of those on a destroyer. He called it the “fastest destroyer in the fleet, and that’s no lie.” He recalled torpedoes coming straight for them, but instead they went under the ship.
“Twelve major battles and I never got a scratch,” Sorensen said. “I shouldn’t even be here. Somebody was looking after me.”
Amdal participated in eight landings and covered a lot of water during his four years in the Navy, he said. They were under attack many times, but they were lucky, he said.
Both Amdal and Sorensen said they could go on for hours with sea stories from their WWII days.
Larson — the “young one” — joined the Air Corps at age 17, just five days after graduating from Fergus Falls High School. Before he joined, though, he said he was part of the war effort in high school. Shop classes made scale-model aircrafts to train spotters in the military. Others made hunting knives that were donated to the armed forces.
“We were all involved in that,” Larson said. “It was a complete effort on the part of the American public.”
Aune is the only one of the group that isn’t a widower. He’s been married 62 years to his wife Beverly, who also came along for lunch Thursday. He spent time at Camp Cotter and Fort Snelling.
“Then I got sick with rheumatic fever and they didn’t want me anymore,” Aune said.
Sorensen has two Navy buddies that he still keeps in contact with, but the rest he knows have all passed away. Amdal said there must be some other WWII vets in the area.
“But I don’t think there’s four of them that live as close as we do together,” Amdal said. “We see each other so often, we don’t have to talk. We just wave.”
They four men in the cul de sac raised families and saw their kids grow up together. They’ve even made block parties nearly an annual tradition. Beverly Aune thinks the four WWII vets living in such close proximity for such a long time is a neat thing.
“We’ve just been very blessed,” she said. “I don’t want to move. I think we want to stay there as long as we can.”