Sunday, April 29, 2012

Willie Nelson - with the Beach Boys?

The remaining Beach Boys, the founders, actually, have launched another tour this summer, a reunion tour, I guess, and were featured on CBS Sunday Morning.  A YouTube search to find a sample tune uncovered this great irony, especially after the post about Willie Nelson last week.

He may have some of the same bad habits as some of the Beach Boys had in their lives, and a different format for his music, but music is music, bottom line.  Still, an interesting juxtaposition.

CBS Sunday morning headlines them as "Catching Another Wave" which I'm sure they will do.  The audience in the clips played this morning?  They are us.  Here is the full CBS Report . . .

The Beach Boys On Tour - 2012

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Willie Nelson - 1965

I had to look hard to recognize the face, but it's there...   the voice, on the other hand, is almost instantly recognizable.  The Class of '65 might have seen this live at the Grand Ole Opry.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Furnish Me Vintage

Mad Men inspires the throwback or retro look, to the degree that there's even a furniture store in St Petersburg, FL, that showcases nothing but that retro look.

You can click on the photo here for a larger view, and if you're really interested in checking out what they offer, go to their website, by clicking here.  They advertise, of course, on Mad Men.

There may be other furniture stores in the country that offer these furnishings, and you may have one in your hometown, wherever that may be.  If not, you will recall your youth by browsing their offerings.  In the most recent episode, Pete Campbell and his wife hosted a dinner party during which Pete was bragging about their neat new stereo,  one very similar to the Vintage RCA Victor VHT33W in the bottom row of the above photo.

Unfortunately, it has been sold and is no longer available.  But they do have more.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Old news from the Anchor

April 12, 1962

N-K school senior Christina Helvick, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bernie Helvick, has been awarded a merit scholarship at Iowa State University, Ames, for the 1962-63 school year. The merit scholarship pays the full tuition at ISU.

April 19, 1962

N-K students Charles Helgeland and Arlyn Morse will attend the annual Economic Conference for Young Adults to be held in Minneapolis April 26-28. They are sponsored by Northwood State Bank, which will pay all expenses of the trip. They will join 200 high school students from throughout the Midwest.

Richard Brunsvold and James Trainer, delgates from the Northwood-Kensett FFA Chapter, were awarded Iowa Farmer degrees at the annual Future Farmers of America conference held at Waterloo last week. Only 200 out of 10,000 FFA students throughout the state of Iowa were awarded the coveted degree.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Doris Johnson, 1919 - 2012

Doris was our Latin teacher, a course presumably dropped from the curriculum years ago, and no longer available but for a few secondary schools, primarily private.  She may also have taught English but I don't recall for sure.

What I do recall is that on one occasion she marked me down in Deportment, and it was the only time my mother ever defended me in front of a teacher.  Since my other teachers had not marked me down, she asked Doris why I had gotten a lower grade from her.  The answer she gave was something to the effect that I just deserved it.

When the folks came home and told me that, I didn't tell them - Doris was right.  But hey, I never tipped over desks or blew anything up, so how bad could I have been?

I also have to give her credit for being committed to accuracy in language and loving her subject matter.  She wanted us to learn, for sure.  For her full obituary, click here.

Friday, April 20, 2012

a letter from a Marine


This all reminds me a quote from a WWI Belgium man who as a kid was liberated by the US Army. He came to America, became a famous architect and married into wealth. To thank the USA for all this he established a military museum and library in Santa Barbara, Ca. Asked about his special feelings for the military he said: “I still feel an obligation to the United States, especially to the military. That’s why I am behind the idea of a Museum to honor the soldiers who died. To be killed in a war is not the worst that can happen. To be lost is not the worst. To be forgotten is the worst.” 

The Pierre Claeyssens Veteran’s Museum and Library Foundation is committed to carrying out the mission of building a world class destination Museum to carry on Pierre’s dreams that American military history will never become lost in the fog of time.

Don was a very good man, special to both Joe and me and I hope and trust Shane found some roots and peace from your hard work. You guys have done very well with this project. Thanks for caring enough to make the connections and remember our long ago friend. Thanks to you he will never have the worst thing happen to him, to be forgotten.

As combat veteran Marines, most of us have a condition known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. While it would be untruthful to say we think about our lost comrades every day, we do have some special days where we are a bit extra stressed/depressed. Those dates are the annual anniversary dates of battles where friends like Don were lost. For me the dates of April 30, July 21, August 21, December 9, 10 & 28, are firmly embedded in my brain. Every year I get these trigger dates to remember and reflect about the guys who were KIA on those days. Most of my reflections are about how they were as people and not just the method and manner of their deaths.

I have been so blessed to have survived and to be given another chance. I have a wonderful family and life. At least I now know that Don too has a wonderful son. Hopefully he will stay in touch with his other extended family, the guys from 2nd Platoon, Mike Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines.

Semper fi and God Bless!

Ray Calhoun

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Where he died

Through Ray Calhoun we have gotten background on the military movements, topography, and location of the ambush where Donald Woodward McNamara died.  The photos and italicized commentary below came courtesy of Calhoun.  There may be question as to the suitability of including this information with Project McNamara but it is the initial horrible reality that put this project in play.  Note all photos should open in a new window and a larger version if you click on them.

Highway 9 Valley

The battle on July 21, 1967, took place at the far end of this valley, near the river that runs the distance.  According to Calhoun the exact location is about one inch below the "S" in "Sahn."

This is the basic map where Donald and I operated. We spent the majority of our time between the Rockpile and Khe Sanh. Donald was KIA just east of Ca Lu on the road to Khe Sanh. Sadly my squad was on the eastern or southern side of the Thach Han River. We couldn’t do much except to coordinate air strikes.

This map is a topo to show where we spent most of our time around the Rockpile and Razorback. You will hear about locations like Old Payable and the Dustbowl so now you can put them into perspective. Route 9 is at the SE tip of this map.

This photo is showing an air strike that we called in to try and give Donald's part of the platoon some support. You can see the distance and foliage to get a sense of what was going on. To my knowledge this may be the only photo from that day. When you are busy no one is taking many photos.

Donald Woodward McNamara - at Home
Had Ray Calhoun's squad made it across the river to support the Marines being ambushed, this story may have ended differently.  Or had Donald's parents not moved to Albert Lea shortly after he joined the Marines, NKHS Alumni would have been more aware of his ultimate sacrifice.

As it is, the Freeborn County Courthouse in Albert Lea, MN, has honored him in a Memorial Walk where a brick with his name has been placed in the KIA section.  It's as if he knew his fate when a photo was taken when home on leave, perhaps his last, as if he knew the brick would one day be there.

Project your own thoughts on his frame of mind here regarding his family, his mission, and his future.

The face has pride, confidence, satisfaction, maturity, and the inner peace his fellow Marine reported in a Remembrance.  By all accounts, his death was a huge loss.   He belonged at home and not in the valley pictured above, but it's where the world took him.

For the Class of '62 he's the schoolmate we didn't know - until it was too late.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Donald Woodward McNamara - in tribute

At last the photo of Donald Woodward McNamara has been posted on the Virtual Wall (see above) and also on the Vietnam Veteran Memorial Fund (VVMF) website.

There's no need to revisit all the stories posted previously, though you can view the group by clicking on the menu label "Project McNamara" on the right.  Let it just be said that numerous people have been involved in bringing this young man home, elevating the local awareness of a quality person who gave his life in war.

We've discovered his cousin Marv Everhart served to accompany the body home, at the request of Donald's mother, and is pictured here with the flag-draped coffin.

Marv, who was serving at the time in the Army in Viet Nam, was there for the funeral and the burial, and had a joyful first meeting with Donald's son Shane just last month.  He was the one who in 1967 presented Donald's mother with the Purple Heart Medal, the dogtags, and the flag draping the coffin.

The story of Donald Woodward McNamara has taken so many surprising twists since it first came to light on March 13, and has brought together an unlikely, disparate group of people looking for the next bit of news on a daily basis.  The remaining family of Donald have, in some respects, found a new life.  Then Lance Corporal Ray Calhoun entered the story.  A fellow Marine who served with Donald, he elevated the story even further by confirming the personal quality of the young Marine, and sent out an "all call" to the Marines who had served with him.

Shortly, an email came from another Marine who served with Donald, recalling him as a friend, a good man and a great, intuitive leader, at the youthful age of 20:  I am Joe Cordileone. Don was my squad leader for a time. We went on R&R together. Don was a hardcore Marine's Marine, but he was also very compassionate. He had a young man in his squad, a draftee (very rare in the corps), who just wasn't really suited for combat in the jungle. It was obvious to everyone and it wasn't his fault. Don took care of him. He wouldn't let him get in a situation where he would be in over his head. Don led by example. I am proud to count him among my friends.

Here is Donald in uniform, a man proud to wear it, and ready to serve his country, as documented by the remembrance of a fellow soldier Lyle Frazer who was there at the end:

Remember, Blue and Red? First Marines, Third Marines?  Life WAS simple!  Blue and Red!

You had such "inner peace"! Was there something you wanted to tell us besides "GAWD"?

More than once the "fellas" who served with you TRIED, really TRIED to recover the ground they were PUSHED back from. Ground that YOU held. Overrun, pushed back! Overrun pushed back! Overrun - pull the pin!

In the end, you destroyed the M-60. "One last grenade"! You hugged the "60" until the end!

No doubt he was a "Marine's Marine."  

At the first "reunion" of Project McNamara held last month, his son Shane posed with the Purple Heart awarded posthumously.  Along with a coffin flag and other medals previously in the safekeeping of his cousin Amber, Shane accepted it with grace and awe, pride, and respect.

Whatever this NKHS62 blog has contributed over the past two years is just meaningless in comparison to the impact of this story and the role we've been able to play.  From time to time I question whether the stories and the blog itself make any difference or have any value.  

Now it makes no difference.  

I've never been involved in anything as personally satisfying as this in my life - posting the photos of the hometown hero we didn't know, and being a part of helping a young man to discover who he is.  This story has made the blog worthwhile, and nothing else matters.  Today marks one month since this story was brought to life, even though it has been nearly 45 years in the making, and it's a good time to draw it to a close.

Donald was a hero who gave his all, so we salute him, as well as Marv and all his fellow Viet Nam Vets.  Even if belated, we thank you.

On behalf of all who have been involved in Project McNamara let me say we are grateful to his service and proud to have re-established him in our community.  For however short a period of time, he was one of us.

Lee Leidal

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Re-living -- the Blog

The NKHS 62 blog found life in June 2010, and the first posting was June 10.  A review of some of the early postings reveals other contributors providing photos of favorite actors and shows.  The full listing of July 2010 posts is available here . . .

(Richard Holstad and Marilyn Weidler Ulve added most of those, and are encouraged to add whatever else they can.  If they don't, we will post their phone numbers so others can call them.  During vacation time, somebody has to step up.)

That month we posted two stories of Billy Roberts, who will forever be known as Billy to this author since that's his reported name in the First Grade photo posted last March.  Find it here . . .

The first posting was Billy and the Pea Shooter, in which our furtive efforts to "bomb" study hall with BB's led to a frustrating after-school BB hunt.  Read that here . . .  Chuck Hendrickson added to his legend by writing Another story I remember is a group of guys going golfing w/him. He was just nailing his drives - way outdistancing the rest of us. We wondered how in the world he could make the ball fly so far. He simply told us he'd drilled a hole into the driver and filled it with lead. That would do it!!! He was a guy who marched to his own beat!!

The following day we added more about Billy, who was clearly his own man.  Read it here . . .

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Top Movies - 1962

With all the recent hoopla regarding the 50th anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird you might be wondering what the top movies were in 1962.  According to Films 101, here are the top 5:

1.  Lawrence of Arabia - with Peter O'Toole, worth watching again
2.  Jules and Jim - French movie that you probably didn't see
3.  The Manchurian Candidate - kind of weird brainwashing of a political candidate
4.  To Kill a Mockingbird - the one that has eternal impact
5.  Knife in the Water - Roman Polanski, need more be said?

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, a great western, was up next, just outside of the top 5.  Go to Wikipedia for more information on any of these films including plot lines, actors, etc.  (For films like Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy that are quite confusing, Wikipedia can straighten you out!)

For the complete list of top 1962 films, click here . . .

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The McNamara Circle Widens

Ray Calhoun, USMC

If you read the tributes posted for Donald on the Vietnam Vet memorial Fund website you would recall a quote from a Ray Calhoun:   Don and I would lay on our backs, looking at the stars, and singing Up Up and Away to the top of our lungs. They all thought we were crazy.

A search with The Google provides a great deal of information about Mr. Calhoun, including a story about his receiving a Silver Star medal. Mr. Calhoun is pictured at left, a photo taken from that story.

His email address was included somewhere in the many stories about him, and when contacted, his reply came back shortly:  Donald was a good friend of mine. Please call me.

Ray has confirmed that he was indeed the guy who sang with Donald.  They both served in the same platoon but different squads, Ray in the 2nd and Donald in the 3rd.  They normally worked patrols together, but on the day that Donald was killed, they were separated by geography, so Ray was not there when it happened. Donald's squad was ambushed and by the time Ray's squad was able to get there, it was all over.

Ray described him as a happy guy, a great leader, and a friend. He has since sent an email wherein he copied two other Marines who also recall Donald as a great friend, and more information and insights will be forthcoming.

Cpl McNamara was not a member of the Class of '62 and to our knowledge none of the classmates know who he is, so one might say the blog is skewing away from its mission.  So be it.  He is one of so many Viet Nam Vets who never made it back, and one who listed Northwood as his hometown - without ever receiving any local acclamation for having given his life.  This is all about us - and we will see it through.

His photo has been posted on the Viet Nam Vet Memorial Fund site, and the remembrance can be viewed on their website,

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Original Mission Complete

From the beginning - March 13, less than a month ago - the blog mission has been to find a photo of Donald Woodward McNamara and post it on the Virtual Wall and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund websites.  A number of photos have arrived, and the official military portrait shown here has been submitted to both sites, though it may easily be a week or ten days until they are viewable.

Our reporting is not yet complete, so stay tuned.

Clearly Donald was proud to wear the colors of the USMC, as illustrated below.  We'll have additional photos to show later.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Coach LaVerne Rohlfsen 1928 - 2002

Coach Rohlfsen was our introduction to high school athletics.  He was a tough-nosed guy reflecting his Marine training, was proud of his players, and was sensitive to community needs.  The true Marine didn't like long hair, and he once backed me up against the brick wall behind the band room after football practice with that steely stare and allowed as how I should get a shorter haircut - like his.  I would've had to turn half-bald, of course, but that was another story.

His offense of choice was the Single Wing, a formation long since out of style, though in the late 60s a fellow named John Aldrich used it at the Malcolm Price Lab School, also known as SCI High, and was very successful with it because competing teams never played against any other team that used the offense.  It was an offense built on "trickeration" with multiple hand-offs or fakes in the backfield so a defense often had no clue where the ball was going.  If you've never seen that before it's confusing.

When Rohlfsen moved on Buddy Mounts brought in his own concepts based on the T formation and the single wing was gone.  But it was fun to find and read about the Single Wing at a website called Football Babble.  You probably need to be an athletic director at an NCAA Division II college - like Larry Holstad -  to have any familiarity with it otherwise.  Anyway, here's the obituary on Rohlfsen.

Laverne Orville Rohlfsen, 74, Grafton, died Friday, Dec. 13, 2002 at Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa in Mason City.

Laverne was born on Oct. 25, 1928, to Orville and Clara (Beermann) Rohlfsen in Cherokee, IA. He attended country school for his first three years of schooling, then Lutheran Parochial School, Germantown, IA through the eighth grade. He attended high school in Paulina, graduating in 1947. He enrolled in Iowa State Teachers College, Cedar Falls, in 1947. He was drafted into the U.S. Marine Corps in 1951, and played football at Camp Pendleton, CA, making the base team. He was honorably discharged from the Marines in 1953. Laverne returned to college, at what is now the University of Northern Iowa, and graduated in 1954. While there he received three football letters.

His first teaching job was in Rockwell City, where he coached and taught from 1954 - 1956.

He married Mary E. Purdie on May 29, 1955, in Rockwell City. They moved to Northwood where he was a teacher and coach from 1956 to 1960. He sold insurance for two years. They moved to Grafton in 1962 where he was a junior high school teacher and coach from 1962 to 1989. He retired in 1989. Laverne sold multi-peril crop insurance for 20 years.