Ole, Kim and son Andy Anderson a happy story from a troubled time

Ole Anderson, one of the leaders of the Erhard Veterans Memorial campaign, with his “war bride” from Vietnam, and son Andy–who reunited at the memorial dedication  May 25. Note the benches, which the Andersons donated as part of the memorial project. Father Ole, serving in Vietnam, and son Andy, who served during the U.S. invasion of Panama, which was December 1989 to January 1990.

Rare as it may be, there’s a happy story that came out of Vietnam. And the story continues in the rural Erhard-Pelican Rapids farm country. 

Ole Anderson brought a Vietnamese war bride home, and for more than a half century, Ole and Kim have been a farm couple.  As Ole likes to say, his war bride Kim, hasn’t been homesick since. 

Ole and Kim evolved into excellent farm partners and, by most accounts, Kim learned to make lefse just as good as any Lutheran church basement lady in the county. Plus–her egg rolls are legendary.

The Army shipped Ole over to Vietnam in 1964–when few could even identify the country on a world map.  He was among the earliest American soldiers to set foot in the country.  “There were 16,000 of us when I got there; and 60,000 when I left,” said Ole. Yet tens of thousands more American men and women would arrive soon, as the Vietnam conflict boiled and burned from 1966 on.

Ole met Kim at a tailor shop, where he was getting fitted for clothes. Kim was a seamstress there. 

They fell in love.  

They had a son.  

Ole managed to survive Vietnam, before the war heated up. But the next big challenge was to get clearance for Kim and Andy to immigrate to the U.S. 

It took–literally–an act of Congress. Anderson received some valuable support and assistance from then-Congressman, the late Odin Langen.  

Little Andy was pushing two-years old by the time he arrived on U.S. shores.  

“Something wonderful came out of Vietnam in 1967,” smiled Luann (Anderson) Finkenaur, Ole’s sister, who traveled all the way from Phoenix for the Erhard Veterans Memorial dedication. Ole was one of several Erhard area veterans who spearheaded the campaign to create the memorial.

Toward the end of the dedication program in the Erhard city park, Luann approached the microphone and spoke a few words about Kim, “who has been a wonderful addition to the family…She immediately wanted to become an American.”

 Luann described Kim as the “kindest person I’ve ever met.” Also,    few work as hard as Kim, she added.

 Further, she laughed, “I sometimes think she is more Norwegian than I am.”  

The soldier, the war bride and the son were all on hand for the May 25 dedication of the Erhard War Memorial.  

“Little” Andy, who graduated from Pelican Rapids High School in 1984, returned home for the event–and served as Master of Ceremonies with his Pelican classmate, Tom Nygaard.  

Andy followed his father’s footsteps into the Armed Forces, including action in Panama during the mid 1980s. Tom Nygaard, whose father Gene Nygaard is also one of the leaders of the memorial campaign, served in the Army for more than 20 years. 

As Andy recalled, from his days as a Pelican student, “we all skipped school to go talk to the recruiter…and he was serving pizza!” laughed Andy.