Thursday, May 23, 2013

Memorial Day Recognition

Every year in Danube, MN, there is a Memorial Day Program sponsored by the American Legion Post.  At the end of the program, the crowd assembles outside at the flag pole for the reading of the Roll of Honor--names of those veterans who have passed away.  We have heard those names each year for many years but what do we know about the individual person?  So, for the past several years, specific honorees have been recognized during the program so we can learn something about them. 

The following is what will be shared this year about Gust Standfuss, a decorated veteran of World War II.

Sgt. Gustave T. Standfuss
United States Army – World War II
Sgt. Gustave T. Standfuss was born on February 27, 1924 on the family farm in Emmett Township, rural Renville County.  He was born to Theodore and Augusta (Seehusen) Standfuss. 
Gust worked on the home farm before joining the U.S. Army in World War II.  He served in the Central European Rhineland Theatre from 1944-1946.  He served as a Combat Infantryman and was awarded the Bronze Star.  Not only did Gust serve, but two of his brothers, Elmer and Henry (Hank) also served in World War II.  Gust was one of seven first cousins that served in WWII.  His first cousin, Alice Ballard Meyer, lost her husband in WWII.
After the service Gust continued to farm and became a part-time police officer in Danube. In 1978 Gust became Police Chief in Danube and served faithfully until 1991; he was also selected Minnesota Peace Officer of the Year.  Gust married Anna Groen in 1950 and they were the parents of ten children.  Anna died in 1996 and Gust later married Jean Wendinger.  He was a member of the American Legion for over 50 years.
Three of Gust’s grandsons served in the Army National Guard during the Iraq war.  Jim Standfuss, son of Phil and Nancy Standfuss served in the Continental US; Daniel Stephens, son of Susan and Brad Stephens, and Adam Standfuss both served in Iraq.  Adam, also the son of Philip and Nancy Standfuss, was severely wounded in Iraq. 
Gust did not say much about his war experiences.  At the Seehusen family reunions the veterans are acknowledged.  One year Gust stood up and began to speak.  He told of going into battle with 252 men and Gust was one of only 19 that survived.  He shared that during this prolonged battle he turned 21 years old and grew a mustache that he would never shave off as it would serve as a daily reminder of his war experience. 
Gust was a POW of the Germans for a short time at the end of the war.  He and a fellow soldier were interrogated and then ordered to go to the basement.  The word was, if you went to the basement, you never came back up.  He and his friend prepared to die.  But Gust and his friend did come back up alive and the German officer in charge handed Gust his service weapon, a German Lugar pistol, and said “You’re in charge now; the war is over.”  The Standfuss family is still in possession that German Lugar pistol.
Gust’s records did not record his POW status but information gleaned from the memories of a buddy, Lee Gardner, made reference to the radio detachment being captured.  Gust was a member of that group. 
Gust’s daughter, Sue, shared some pages of the memoir of Lee Gardner, Gust’s buddy from North Carolina.  It is a valuable source of information. 
Gardner wrote a letter to Gust in March 2012.  I quote in part… the letter opens:
“I think you will recall us serving together in Company G, 119th Infantry of the 30th Infantry Division during World War II.  I have much admiration and respect for you.”
The Standfuss family received some pages of the memoir from Gardner.  Gardner would write in the margins, “Gust, remember this?” or “Gust was here.”  Gust and Gardner were together from France to the Elbe River.
In closing I will share three paragraphs from Lee Gardner’s memoirs that were marked Gust’s name.
“On another occasion during the same battle, Lee’s (and Gust’s) company was cut off by the Nazi’s and had no food for three days.  Wnd had no food for three battle, Lee'orge Lee Gardner'd respect for you."s of a buddy, George Lee Gardner, made referorse still, they were forced to wear the same uniforms for three months and they contacted body lice.  After the Battle of the Bulge, one of the Army generals took all of us to a spa in Belgium where the rich and famous from that region came to bathe,” Lee recalled.  “It was a tremendously wonderful feeling getting to bathe and change clothes after we hadn’t had the opportunity to do either for so long.  We bathed in mineral water and I then felt like I was the cleanest guy on Earth.  The Army took our old uniforms, burned them and gave us new clothes.”
“Lee (and Gust) were some of the famous General George S. Patton’s troops who had to walk 72 miles in only three days during blizzard conditions to get back behind German forces after they had made their breakthrough.  Lee recalls wading through snow up to his waist and got both feet frostbit in the battle.  Fortunately, he didn’t have any lasting medical problems from that.  He also remembers how he and one of his Army buddies went inside an old barn in the area hunting eggs to eat, as food was scarce, and once again his life was spared.  He apparently walked in a slightly different direction than his buddy, who stepped on a mine in the barn.  “It blew both his legs off and he bled to death because he couldn’t get any medical help.”
“Lee (and Gust) also helped liberate five Nazi Concentration camps which Lee said was “One of the absolute worst parts of war.  Those places were brutal and horrible beyond all means of description.  You could smell them for many miles before you got to them.  There were millions murdered in them in every conceivable manner.  And many of those who survived were beaten, starved and treated as inhumanly as you can imagine.  It is so sad that the human mind can comprehend treating people in such barbaric ways.”

This day we remember with honor the sacrifice of Sgt. Gustave T. Standfuss.   This is a time when our news is filled with ongoing government scandals.  Four Americans were left to die in Benghazi and a Government official says, “What difference does it make?”  It shows our lack of appreciation for our freedoms; freedoms that were obtained and maintained with the shedding of blood.  We would all do well to remember the high price paid not only the sacrifice of the Standfuss family but also of others who have served and sacrificed.
If Eternal vigilance is the price we must pay for our freedom, it surely is the least we can do.
Blessed be the memory of Sgt. Gustave Theodore Standfuss.
I would like to remind each of you to take time this Memorial Day to remember those who have sacrificed for our freedom.  ~ Beef

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Be careful when we spout off...

Bildad, Job’s buddy, goes on a rant in Job 25 about the power of God and the hopelessness of man.  Job has been suffering, hurting, irritable and frustrated with his buddies’ advice.  Job says in Job 26:1-4 ... “Then Job replied: 2 "How you have helped the powerless! How you have saved the arm that is feeble!  3 What advice you have offered to one without wisdom! And what great insight you have displayed!   4 Who has helped you utter these words? And whose spirit spoke from your mouth?

Job says (Jerry paraphrased) “by the way Bildad, you may criticize God but what have you done to help the powerless or feeble? (Job 26:1-2)

If we are prone to spout off about God, we need to ask ourselves, “What are we doing for the powerless and feeble?”  Probably nothing.  In and of ourselves we lack true wisdom (verse 3) and have none, if any, insight.

Then Job launches the broadside in verse 4:  "Who has helped you utter these words? And whose spirit spoke from your mouth?"

We could not speak, grumble, utter, whisper, complain, sing, cry, weep, whistle, or yodel unless God gave us life, breath, and everything else.  Acts 17:25  -- “And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.

Before we spout off about God, we should consider the stupid things we are about to say or do.  And remember, every breath we take, every beat of our heart is an undeserved gift from God himself!  We need to be careful before we spout off…forgive us God.