Monticello Heritage Center honors area veterans

Veteran Bill Dingbaum of Hopkinton was presented with a Quilt of Valor during the ceremony. His daughter, Bonnie, made the quilt. From left are Bonnie Sands and her parents JoAnn and Bill Dingbaum. The Dingbaums will be married 64 years this week.

Veterans Clyde Meyer and Becky Dirks-Haugsted spoke about their service and the service of others during the Nov. 10 Veterans Day service at the Monticello Heritage Center. Meyer also treated everyone with a song. (Photos by Kim Brooks)

Becky Dirks-Haugsted of Anamosa shared the history of Monticello veterans through the various wars.
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

The Monticello Heritage and Cultural Center hosted a Veterans Day ceremony on Nov. 10, inviting veterans from the community to attend in honor of their service. 

Area veterans Clyde Meyer and Becky Dirks-Haugsted addressed the crowd. Kim Tauke and Pat Tauke presented an area veteran with a Quilt of Valor as well. 

It was a packed house as people poured into the Heritage Center to thank the veterans for their service and sacrifice. 

Haugsted is a 1978 graduate of Monticello High School. She joined the Marine Corps after high school and served until 1992. She was one of the first female Marines deployed to combat in Operation Desert Shield/Storm. She finished her military career in the Iowa Army National Guard, retiring in 1999. 

Haugsted shared about the military history of many Monticello-area veterans, spanning all wars. 

“As it is with most of America’s small towns, Monticello has a rich history of supporting our country with sons and daughters serving in the military,” she said. 

Iowa had one of the highest percentages per capita in the nation of sending men into the Civil War. Jones County accounted for more than 1,100 veterans. 

Horace Downer of Castle Grove and his three sons (Horace Jr., William and Daniel) all served during the Civil War. 

Horace Sr. gave his life, dying in Spring River, Mo. 

Daniel is said to have lied about his age, enlisted through Hopkinton, and his name is on a monument at Lenox College. 

“There are also Monticello vets who served in the Spanish-American War,” shared Haugsted. “They were instrumental in creating the Iowa chapter of an organization that we now know as the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).” 

In a February 1917 issue of the Monticello Express, an article spoke of the many Americans killed on the battlefields in Europe. 

“America officially entered WWI in April 1917. More than two million U.S. soldiers fought on the battlefields in France,” said Haugsted. 

One of those young men was Arthur O’Rourke, son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph O’Rourke. 

The last letter his parents heard from him was May 13, 1918. They’re subsequent letters were sent back with the word “wounded” stamped on the envelopes. 

“His parents would not learn until June 18, 1919, one year later, that Arthur died. Can you imagine not knowing for a full year?” asked Haugsted. 

The American Legion Post in Monticello is named after Private O’Rourke. 

Twenty-five years later, Americans were sent into WWII. 

“In July 1944 word was received the Lt. Richard Hoag and Sgt. John Onken were both killed in the invasion on D-Day in Normandy,” said Haugsted. “After D-Day, word was received that Robert Stutt, who also jumped into France on D-Day, lost his life in July 1944.” 

The first Monticello death of a solider serving in Korea was unofficially received in a letter to the parents of Garriet Harms. The letter was sent by one of his buddies to his family. The letter said his buddy had seen Garriet killed in action as part of machine gun crew. It was later confirmed the Harms was in fact killed on Oct. 9, 1941. Just nine days prior to leaving for Korea, Garriet was married to Iris Porter of Anamosa. 

“In the 1960s, America once again committed its military forces in an effort to control the spread of Communism. The local papers once again filled with reports of men reporting to duty either voluntarily or as a result of the draft. Fortunately, we did not lose as many men to the Vietnam War,” Haugsted said. 

Dennis Carlson was killed in action in October 1967. 

“I’m very proud that I served in the military,” said Haugsted with tears in her eyes. “As veterans, when we look in the mirror, we really don’t see the person we have become. We do, without a doubt, remember the person that we are, when we were in the service, when we were serving, and how we now serve our communities.” 

Meyer shared the story of his great grandfather who served during the Civil War after he was paid $1,000 to serve in someone else’s place. 

“That was illegal,” he said. 

His great grandfather survived the war and used that $1,000 to buy his first 40 acres of ground and became a farmer. 

Meyer said the best way to honor veterans today is to be a responsible citizen and exercise your right to vote. 

“One of the best ways you can honor veterans for all they’ve given us is to be the best citizen you can possibly be,” Meyer said. 

The first three words of the Constitution state “We the people.” Meyer said that means the people have the great responsibility of running this country. 

“Those veterans have fought, died, and risked their lives for so many years to protect our rights,” he said. 

Meyer also noted that a veteran is a veteran no matter how they served. 

“When a person holds up his hand and says, ‘This I will defend,’ I don’t care whether they ever saw combat or not, with the stroke of a pen they could be in a foxhole. As far as I’m concerned, they deserve all of the recognition in the world,” said Meyer. 

Following his message, Meyer also treated those in attendance with a song he wrote from the heart about what it means to be a veteran. 

Before the close of the ceremony, Bill Dingbaum of Hopkinton was presented with a Quilt of Valor. What Dingbaum didn’t know was his daughter, Bonnie Sands, made the quilt in honor of her father. 

Dingbaum enlisted at the age of 17 after his parents signed a waiver because he was underage. He enlisted in the Air Force in October 1953. 

Kim Tauke said they were also supposed to present Ray Adams of Monticello with a quilt that afternoon. Sadly, Adams passed away on Friday, Nov. 8. 


Subscriber Login