World War II veterans invited to dedication ceremony: Two men from Park Rapids who served in US Navy look forward to attending long-awaited dedication
There is a special guest list of nearly 50,000 Minnesotans for the upcoming dedication of a new World War II memorial. Organizers are trying to round up the state's World War II veterans and their families to attend the July 9 ceremony dedicating...
There is a special guest list of nearly 50,000 Minnesotans for the upcoming dedication of a new World War II memorial.
Organizers are trying to round up the state's World War II veterans and their families to attend the July 9 ceremony dedicating the memorial located on the Capitol Mall.
Rollie Bishop and Dave Konshok from Park Rapids plan to be there. They are among the 47,000 living World War II veterans in Minnesota.
Rollie had just graduated from college when he was drafted in 1946. "I was in mechanical engineering, but they made me an electronics expert," he said.
Courtesy of the US Navy, he went to electronics school at Corpus Christi, TX to learn how to repair small radio and radar equipment used on airplanes.
From Texas, Rollie went to Hickam Field in Honolulu, where he was stationed as an electronics technician until the war ended.
"In Hawaii, there were all kinds of people, equipment and planes ready for an invasion of Japan," Rollie said. The word was if US troops carried out the mission, they expected 100,000 casualties.
He is sure he would have been sent, and is grateful the decision was made to drop the atomic bomb instead.
Rollie was discharged as a 2nd class petty officer and came home.
Like Rollie, Dave Konshok was never shot at and remains thankful for that.
He enlisted in 1944 at age 17, "right out of high school" and also ended up in the Navy.
"There were a lot of Park Rapids kids at Great Lakes at the same time," he said, estimating there were nine or 10 others.
After he trained at Great Lakes Naval Base near Chicago, Dave boarded the USS Estes, a group command ship, as a radio operator.
During most of his two-year tour of duty, he was in the China Sea, first in the north and then with the 7th Fleet in Shanghai. "China was our ally," he explains.
Dave also returned to Park Rapids after he was discharged in 1946.
The former Seaman 1st Class still attends ship reunions, but his stronger affinity for military service is family related. His son, Dave W., and daughter-in-law, Dr. Clarice, are both Lieutenant Colonels. "They way outrank me," Dave said.
Both men look forward to attending the memorial dedication in St. Paul, and hope other World War II veterans in the area are planning to be there as well.
Approximately 5,000 are expected in St. Paul for the unveiling.
The program will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 9 with speeches from Gov. Tim Pawlenty and retired Gen. John Vessey, a Minneapolis native and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
(Scott Wente of the State Capitol Bureau contributed to this story.)