Members of the tank, infantry and engineering companies of the National Guard unit located in Redwood Falls gathered at the local armory Feb. 25 to celebrate the history of the local unit and to rekindle friendships from the past.

According to Jim Mertens, who helped coordinate the reunion, there were 118 people in attendance Sunday morning (Feb. 25) for the event, which started at 11 a.m.

“We had to postpone the reunion because of the weather,” said Mertens.

Initially scheduled for Saturday afternoon, the reunion was still well attended, said Mertens, although there were 166 people who initially had registered.

Yes, added Mertens, there were others not able to be there because of the date change as well as the weather.

Mertens and others who attended the event, including Jerry Ludwig, Dennis Kissner, Jeannette Mertens and Dustin Hunter, talked about the reunion Feb. 27, adding despite the changes they all felt like it was a good event.

Kissner said there were people there he had not talked with in years, while Hunter added there was a strong sense of camaraderie amongst those in attendance whether they served decades ago or had been involved more recently.

The oldest in attendance was Phillip Rachie, 89, of Granite Falls. He and Bill Schmidt of Redwood Falls were members of Company L, the tank company that went to Korea. 

Those attending ranged in age from those in their 20s to those in their late 80s.

Mike Hauth of North Carolina was recognized as having traveled the farthest to come to the event.

Reunion organizers expressed their appreciation to those who helped get the word out about the postponement.

Ludwig added because of the change and the recognition that many who wanted to come were not able to because of that, there has been some talk about hosting another reunion next year.

After that, the idea would be to hold reunions every five years. In addition to having time to talk with fellow members of the local unit, there were seven tables filled with memorabilia, and Brad Dirks displayed a number of military uniforms from World War I through the Vietnam War era.

Hunter, who is currently serving as part of the local unit, said he has seen reunions like this one at the battalion level but never at the unit level, adding he thinks it was a great idea and a good event.

Ludwig said he thinks other communities that have units should consider having a reunion, adding there was a lot of support from the local American Legion and Legion Auxiliary that helped make the event possible.