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A PAGE FROM THE PAST
The DVD of Dr. E. H. Fast's 8mm movie films from 1938, 1939, and 1940 are now on sale at Matt's Valley Drug. They include footage of a town team baseball game and a high school football game at the low spot along Highway 29 down by St. John's Lutheran Church, a track meet at the U. of Minnesota, a Farmers' Day parade down Main Street, and some flood footage taken well before the Big Flood of 1942. These silent movie reels were contributed by Richard Fast, Dr. Fast's oldest son. The DVDs are $10.00 each, proceeds going to the Spring Valley Lions Club. Mail orders $12, including postage and handling. Matt's Valley Drug & Hardware, S243 McKay Ave., Spring Valley, WI 54767 - remember to include your name and address!
It is interesting to look at these old films to see what has changed around Spring Valley, and what has remained much the same. Spring Valley was already enduring the Great Depression. But there would soon be two more huge impacts upon the village: World War II and the Big Flood of September 17, 1942. Both hit the village and surrounding area hard.
Some of the young men shown in these reels would soon be far from home. Melvin Ofstie, Carl Blegen, Gordon Emerson, Herman “Junior” Marquardt, Barry Conway, Howard Christenson, Bob Gunvalson, and Dr. Fast himself would soon find themselves in far-off lands risking their lives to defend our country. I thought it would be a good idea to include their military portraits and a bit of their service records in the DVD as a kind of thank you for their service and sacrifice.
When I thought we were about ready to put the DVD on sale, I showed a rough copy to several people and soon found out that the DVD was not ready for prime time. “What about my grandfather? He was in WW II!” “What about my uncle?” “What about my brother?” etc., etc. So I started digging, collecting info and military portraits of WW II vets.
This delayed the publication of the DVDs considerably, but we ended up with around 80 vets, mostly with photos and a bit of their service records. This took some time, and I am not done yet. But Will Huepfel (the technical advisor of this project) and I decided to go ahead with the DVD even though more names were still coming in. We will do a more complete version with the incoming names and photos in a year or so. But I am afraid we will never get them all. (You can help: if you know someone who was not included, see the contact info at the end of this article).
The resulting addition to the DVD uses these veterans to trace a rough history of WWII, from Bill Bailey's Pearl Harbor experience and Dorance Danielson's death on the Bataan Death March, to the jungle fighting in New Guinea and Guadalcanal, all the way through the North Africa, Italy, and Normandy invasions, the liberation of France, the Battle of the Bulge, the collapse of Nazi Germany, the continuing war in the Pacific, the island and Phillipine invasions, President Truman's decision to use the two atom bombs, the Japanese surrender, and the occupation of Japan.
Some of the names included in this tribute would include, in addition to those already mentioned: Ary Arneson, Walter Utter, Robert Ducklow, Don Gunvalson, Russ Gunvalson, Michael Thome, Elmer Miller, Vic Ducklow, Howard Garfield, Curtis Jahr, Allen Blegen, Johnny Samb, Harris Samb, Lamont Ducklow, Neil “Kink” Bailey, George Wentland, Paul Howard, Dale Danielson, James McCardle, Donald Powell, Russell “Lanny” Lancaster, Leo “Whitey” Langer, Erwin Olson, Don Keehr, Minnerd Blegen, Clark Anderson, Walter Bjornson,Glenn Nelson, Herman Gilbertson, Elmer Gilbertson, Walter Henkel, Ralph Gavic, Glenn Hovde, Alois Zimmer, Wayne Kittelson, Harlan Falde, Joe Esanbock, Harold Swenson, Calvin Wang, Rudolph Larson, Robert M. Olson, Clarence W. Larson, Arnold Christenson, Charles Ninneman, Joel and Gerald Olson, Harlan Iverson, Leonard Bune Jr, Allison Meier, Don Johnson, Dale Kannel, and many more to come.
The little village of Spring Valley and its immediate surroundings contributed between 200 and 300 WWII veterans to help defeat the Axis Powers of Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany. Their service helped to profoundly affect world history, and this DVD helps us to remember them and Spring Valley's role in World War II.
If you know someone who was a World War II veteran and is not included in this DVD, please contact me with a military portrait and/or service information of the veteran by phone, mail or e-mail:
PO Box 358
Spring Valley, WI 54767