Serving this country

Their military medals were lost, stolen or never received. On Friday, four military veterans from Minot and the area who served in various wartimes were honored by Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.

Honored were Ernest Hoelscher, a Korean War veteran from Berthold; Roger Sundsbak, a Vietnam War veteran from Velva; the late William Garrison World War II and Korean War; and the late Clarence “Kelly” Eliason, Vietnam War, both of Minot. All medals were presented on Friday except the ones for Hoelscher, whose medals were provided to him earlier.

Garrison’s daughters, Dianne Thomas and Gladys Garrison, both of Minot, accepted their father’s medals. Mary “Cory” Tompkins, of Minot, accepted her husband’s medals.

Hoeven told the veterans, family members and friends gathered for the ceremony in the Ex-Servicemen’s Room in the Ward County Courthouse that the veterans had earned the medals and “they are very deserving of receiving them.” He added that he took “great pride” in presenting the veterans and family members the medals.

Hoelscher had never received his military medals that he earned 60 years ago. Sundsbak’s medals were stolen from a storage unit when he moved about 15 years ago. Garrison’s medals were lost in the Souris River flood in 2011. Eliason’s medals were lost, stolen and he never received some of them.

Hoelscher, who was wounded in Korea, has not yet received his Purple Heart. Hoeven said his office is working to obtain it for him.

Following is information from Hoeven’s office about the four veterans and the medals they received:

Cpl. Ernest R. Hoelscher was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1952 and served in the Korean War. He was discharged at Fort Carson in 1954 and transferred to the Army Reserve to complete eight additional years of service under the Universal Military Training and Service Act. Hoelscher contracted malaria while serving. He was wounded during action in Korea. Hoelscher and his wife Shirley live in Berthold.

(He has been a member of Custer’s 7th Cavalry, North Dakota Memorial Regiment, Company M, since 1974. He’s also a member of the American Legion Post 26’s Color Guard. The Legion provided the colors for the veterans’ ceremony on Friday.)

Cpl. Ernest Hoelscher’s

Military Honors

– Army Good Conduct Medal

– National Defense Service Medal

– Korean Service Medal with 2 Bronze Stars

– 50th Anniversary Korean War Service Medal

– Combat Infantryman Badge 1st Award

– United Nations Service Medal


“Kelly” Eliason

Clarence “Kelly” Eliason grew up in the Coulee-Kenmare area. In 1967, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in the Vietnam War. He was selected to attend Officer Candidate School. After completing that, he was selected to attend Special Forces and graduated as a Green Beret. After Vietnam, he was an A-Team commanding officer at Fort Devens, Mass., and served as an S-2, then S-3 officer at the 10th Special Forces where he volunteered for the Special Atomic Demolition Munition. Eliason served in the Army Reserves in Minot from 1971-1979 before being honorably discharged. He and his wife Mary “Cory” Tompkins resided in Minot. He died unexpectedly on Feb. 1, 2014.

(Eliason had been mentoring an Afghanistan War veteran Dakota Brekhus at the time of his death. Brekhus, of Minot, originally from Douglas, Ariz., attended the ceremony on Friday.)

Clarence “Kelly” Eliason’s Military Honors

– Bronze Star Medal

– National Defense Service Medal

– Meritorious Unit Commendation

– Combat Infantryman Badge 1st Award

– Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon

– Vietnam Service Medal with 4 Bronze Stars

– Marksman Badge and Rifle Bar

– Parachutist Badge Senior

Pvt. 1st Class Roger Sundsbak

Roger Sundsbak grew up at Des Lacs. He enlisted in the Army in September 1966. He said it was the right thing to do with the Vietnam conflict going on. After enlisting in 1966, he completed basic training at Fort Lewis, Wash., and was trained in advanced infantry at Fort Polk, La. He served one year in Vietnam and was honorably discharged at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., in 1966. He resides in Velva.

Pvt. 1st Class Roger Sundsbak’s Military Honors

– National Defense Service Medal

– Vietnam Service Medal with 3 Bronze Stars

– Combat Infantryman Badge 1st Award

– Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon with Device

– Expert Badge with Machine Gun Bar

– Marksman Badge with Auto Rifle bar with Rifle Bar

William Garrison

William Hope Garrison, originally from Virginia, left high school and enlisted in the Army at age 17. He later completed his GED while in the service. Garrison served active duty from 1931-1945. During World War II, he was sent to war by landing in Sicily and going up the boot of Italy into Germany. He was discharged and served in the Army Reserves from 1945-1950. He was recalled back to active duty and spent October 1950October 1951 serving in Korea during the Korean War. He continued serving active duty from 19511960 in various locations including: Sparta, Wis., Battle Creek, Mich., Fort Riley, Kan., Kitzingen, Germany, and Fort Benning, Ga. He served from 19601962 on a Korean peacekeeping mission. He spent the last three years of his service assisting in the organization of the 11th Air Assault Division at Fort Benning where he was honorably discharged on Aug. 31, 1964.

Garrison and his wife Helga were married in Minot in April 1946. The family has resided in Minot since 1965. Garrison died at John Moses Air Force Hospital in Minot in October 1968.

William Garrison Military Honors

– Army Commendation Medal

– Good Conduct Medal

– American Defense Service Medal

– American Campaign Medal

– European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 4 Bronze Stars and Arrowhead

– World War II Victory Medal

– Army of Occupation Medal with Germany Clasp

– National Defense Service Medal

– Korean Service Medal with 3 Bronze Stars

– Armed Forces Reserve Medal

– United Nations Service Medal

– Honorable Service World War II Lapel Button

– Sharpshooter Badge with Carbine Bar

– Korean Defense Service Medal

– 50th Anniversary Korean War Service Medal