Paul DeBlieck doesn’t especially believe he should have been named the Redwood Falls American Legion Post’s 2013-14 Legionnaire of the Year; “Any member who’s active in the post is worthy of that honor,” he said this week.
Paul DeBlieck doesn’t especially believe he should have been named the Redwood Falls American Legion Post’s 2013-14 Legionnaire of the Year. “Any member who’s active in the post is worthy of that honor,” he said this week. DeBlieck, who grew up on a farm near Milroy, decided he wanted to go into law enforcement when he was still in high school. In 1972, he graduated from the Alexandria Technical College program in law enforcement. However, in 1972, he also happened to be number 13 on Lyon County’s list of young men to be drafted. “I knew 10 of those guys weren’t going to pass the physical,” he said, “ so I enlisted.” For the next three years, DeBlieck got real world law enforcement training as a military police officer, first in Korea, then in Alaska. “Both places were really scenic. Korea had lots of history, and Buddhist temples and monuments all over the place,” he said. “Alaska was beautiful, nothing but outstanding.” DeBlieck said there really isn’t much difference between the military and civilian worlds as far as law enforcement goes. The main limitation: once he left the Army base, his jurisdiction was limited to American military personnel, whether they were on the base or not. In Korea DeBlieck spent much of his time patrolling a 100 mile stretch of road that had many American artillery and missile batteries, some of them concealed. “One of them took us three days to find,” he laughed. “When we finally did find it, it turned out we could have seen it from our base.” For the most part, the military police and Korean civilian police didn’t interact much, “except once in a while the Koreans would ask us for help looking for North Korean spies.” Following his stint in the Army, DeBlieck returned to southwest Minnesota, and spent 32 years as a deputy with the Redwood County Sheriff’s Department, retiring in 2007. DeBlieck first joined the American Legion in 1972, when he was still in the Army. Today he is the finance officer of the Redwood Falls Legion post, “keeping the financial records for the post and paying the bills.” DeBlieck said one of his favorite parts of Legion membership is the charity work and donations to the community. “We just donated three rifles to the 4-H shooting sports, and paid for the fourth grade school patrol to go on a trip to Valleyfair,” he pointed out. As someone who joined as a recruit still in the Army, DeBlieck is very aware of how veterans organizations need fresh blood over the years. “We need the young people to come in and put their ideas forward. It’s going to be their Legion someday,” he said.