SALUTE Magazine - Veterans Day 2021
Honoring all who served.
• LASTING IMPRESSIONS: Daughter follows father’s footsteps into Minnesota National Guard
For Master Sgt. Chris Strangstalien, of Baxter, an unlikely development gave him the opportunity to be present for something very few parents get to take part in — his child’s first deployment.
• PEOPLE MUST CONTINUE TO THANK AND SUPPORT OUR VETERANS: Gail Smith grew up in a patriotic family and served with the Army Nurse Corps. While she’s thankful the United States isn’t part of big world wars anymore, Smith worries that the public’s awareness of military experiences is waning.
• WORLD WAR II VETS TAKE TO THE SKIES: Two local veterans receive Dream Flights, in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Peace with Japan
• A CENTURY OF HEROISM: Walt Straka was an American war hero born in 1919, came of age during the Great Depression, survived pitched battles and years as a prisoner of war.
• ALSO IN THIS ISSUE: Local photo submissions of Brainerd lakes area veterans — past and present.
On the cover: Walt Straka laughs in 2017 at the Brainerd National Guard Armory open house. Straka was an American war hero born in 1919, came of age during the Great Depression, survived pitched battles and years as a prisoner of war. Nearly 80 years after his ordeal, at the golden age of 101, he died at 4:30 a.m. Sunday, July 4, 2021. With his death, Minnesota bid farewell to its last survivor of the Bataan Death March, when Japanese soldiers forced American prisoners of war on a brutal 60-mile trek through the Philippines that claimed tens of thousands of lives. We salute you, Walt!