(Alexandria, MN) Three new faces will adorn the billboard near Alexandria Clinic soon. They are the most recent honorees for Operation Veteran Recognition. Veterans Rhonda Fuchs, David Berry and Tony Primus are the latest selections. It was a program originated by the Douglas County Veteran Services office in conjunction with Lind Family Funeral Home, Voice of Alexandria and the Echo Press. Below is a story about each of this quarter's honorees by VOA's Joe Korkowski (VIDEO BELOW):
All three honorees will appear on the Lind Family Funeral Home billboard in the coming weeks. The billboard is on the west side of State Highway 29 South near the Alexandria Clinic. Lind Family donated the space to honor veterans for all of 2021. In the first quarter veterans Richard Schlosser, Russ Oorlog and Larry Osborne were honored. In the second quarter veterans Ralph Gunderson, Allan Gerlach and Raymond Wille were honored. In the third quarter, veterans Daryl Tvrdik, Dane Compton and Gabe Pipo were honored.
More on the 4th quarter veterans
Rhonda Fuchs was born and raised here in MN and graduated from the Minnewaska Area High School in 1993. She went to boot camp that fall in October of 1993.
Rhonda says she went to boot camp in Orlando FL. because at that time it was the only place for females to go. That base is closed today and women can go to both the Great Lakes and San Diego, CA boot camps.
Rhonda was stationed on the USS Shasta AE 33; an Ammunition Ship that was decommissioned in 1996 – 1997 shortly after they got back from their West Pac and Rhonda had gotten out of the service. Rhonda says the ship is now unidentifiable but the anchor is in TX on display.
Rhonda was a Gunners Mate for most of her career. Towards the end of her Career in the Navy she was also a Ships Servicemen. Ronda was honorably discharged and left the service as a Petty Officer 3rd Class. Her home port was Concord CA which was at the Naval Weapons Station. She says of all the branches she joined the Navy because she wanted to travel.
Her father was in the Army and was in the 101st Airborne. (Also known as the Screaming Eagles.) He served from 1968 – 1970 also honorably discharged.
Her grandfather was in World War II and also was in the Army he was a Ranger, also honorably discharged.
Her brother was in the Air Force for 10 to 11 years and she also had many uncles and cousins who were in various branches of the service.
Her father, brother, sister-in-law, grandfather, some uncles and cousins are in the Veterans Memorial Park here in Alexandria.
David was a 1986 graduate of Evansville High School. He followed his father's lead and went in the Navy. David was stationed in Norfolk, VA and was part of the Atlantic fleet. He did two cruises in the Mediterranean Sea. He became a boatman's mate. As part of that duty David took care of the captain's small boat for a while. David says, "It was his responsibility to make sure that everything was good to go, just in case he had to get off and go somewhere and do something, or we had to abandon ship and that was his personal boat to get off the ship with." He adds, "I would’ve been on his crew if that would have happened, so I’m pretty proud of that, cause he held me to a high standard.
Back in the states David joined the Evansville Legion Post. At the post he has been a post commander, commander, the chaplain, also involved in the membership, color guard, honor guard, he plays taps at funerals, and "just about everything I can think of as far as the post level is concerned." He is now also the Vice Commander of the 7th District, which includes Grant, Douglas, Pope and Stevens Counties.
Tony grew up in Melrose and was drafted into the Army. He served during the Vietnam War and was injured in an explosion, shortening his time there. The blast caused a traumatic brain injury, still Tony persisted in living his best life in the years following the war.
He married and had five children and one grandson. His wife passed away three years ago on October 8th.
Tony is active with the local Vietnam Veterans of America organization. He is currently the vice president of the chapter.