Members of the Pelican Rapids Post 17 American Legion unit were well represented Sept. 15, as the Chamber of Commerce honored the post for its 100th birthday.
From left, Brent Frazier, Mike Nettestad, Commander Ron Stadum, Ben Woessner, Chet Nettestad, Terry Sjostrom, Milt Haugrud and Gene Nygaard.
Mike Nettestad, past Commander and ‘unofficial’ historian of the Pelican Rapids Post 17 American Legion unit.
He is pictured here with the original charter, August 1920, with signatures of the 170 World War I veterans who formed the Post a century ago.

Post presented with 100-year plaque from Pelican Chamber

By Louis Hoglund

Observing its century mark this year, the Pelican Rapids American Legion Post 17 is the longest-running, oldest, “civic organization” in Pelican Rapids. 

Other than a few area churches, and of course, the Pelican school system and city hall, and the Pelican Rapids Press newspaper; the Legion’s charter in August of 1920 makes it one of the oldest, continuously operating institutions in the Pelican area. 

The American Legion, as a national organization, dates to August of 1919. With the Post number of 17, it was one of the first 210 Legion units formed in the state of Minnesota, noted Post historian Mike Nettestad. 

There were 170 World War I veterans in the general Pelican area. Based on information from the Otter Tail County Historical Society, the general Pelican area sent among largest number of troops in the county, based on a percentage of population during World War I. 

Pelican has the distinction of having numerous members serving in state Legion officer positions over the century—including state commander, noted Nettestad. 

 The Post was honored Sept. 15 at the annual Pelican Chamber of Commerce dinner for its 100 years. 

On hand was a nice contingent of area Legionnaires, led by current Post Commander Ron Stadum, Erhard. Other current officers include Chet Nettestad, vice commander; Phil Stotesbery, adjutant. 

The post was issued the Charter under the name of Victor Cornell who was one of the first to give his life in the First World War from the Pelican Rapids area.

Cornell was killed in action in France, Sept. 29, 1918. He entered service Feb 23, 1918 at Pelican Rapids, and was sent overseas April 24, 1918. An older soldier, compared to most, Cornell was 32; and was survived by his wife Jennie Cornell. His parents were Mr. and Mrs. Charley Cornell. 

Elmer A. Haugen was the first commander to serve the Pelican post and did so for two years, to 1921.  

Five World War I era veterans and Legion post members were still living as of July, 1982, in the city of Pelican Rapids. They were Mike Korteum, John Aas, Roy Goecke, Mark Hanson, and Sylvester Plummer.

In November of 1948 a new charter was granted Post 17 under the name of Cornell-Syverson. Woodrow Syverson was one of the first World War II casualties from the area and his name was added to the post name.

The post holds its meetings at the Pelican VFW Post facility.