Memorial Day observances to return to traditional programs in most area communities this year

Ozzie Quandahl during his military service in the late 1940s ... Submitted photo.

Ozzie Quandahl selected as Grand Marshal in Waukon

After being modified - or even canceled altogether - last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the Memorial Day observances in the local area will return to their traditional format this year in honor of those who made the ultimate sacrifice in serving their country. With the exception of the community of New Albin and its yet modified observance this year, the traditions of parades, full cemetery programs and wreath laying will be returning to area communities.

Memorial Day 2021 observances in the area communities of Waukon, Lansing, Harpers Ferry and New Albin are further detailed in the boxed listings surrounding this article. All are scheduled for Monday, May 31.

The 2021 Memorial Day Observance Program in Waukon is once again being planned to take place at its traditional setting at Oakland Cemetery in Waukon. That program is scheduled to commence following the traditional parade that begins at 9:45 a.m. in front of the Allamakee County Courthouse and marches its way to the cemetery. In the event of rain, the parade will not be held and the observance program will, instead, be held at the Waukon Banquet Center at approximately 10 a.m.

Volunteers will be needed to help set up the Avenue of Flags Saturday, May 29, beginning at 7 a.m. Those efforts will begin at the Allamakee County Courthouse in Waukon. Any changes in plans regarding the parade, observance ceremony or Avenue of Flags will be announced on local radio stations.

Featured at this year’s Memorial Day Observance Program will be Waukon High School sophomore Emma Palmer, who will read her winning entry in the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Voice of Democracy Essay Contest. Also new this year will be U.S. Army Veteran Warren Barr serving as this year’s Master of Ceremonies at the Observance Program.

Serving as the Grand Marshal for this year’s Memorial Day Parade in Waukon will be Osmund (Ozzie) Quandahl. Selected by members of local VFW Post 4117 to represent in that capacity, Quandahl’s military service tenure spanned from early 1945 to late 1948.

The eventual long-time business owner of Quandahl’s Food Ranch and Northeast Iowa Sales Commission local fame says his military service began in January of 1945 when he shipped off to U.S. Army Infantry Training at Jefferson Barracks in Missouri. Following his infantry training he then completed basic training in Louisiana.

After one year of service in the U.S. Army, Quandahl said he took advantage of an offer to enlist for a three-year stint in the U.S. Air Force, serving as a Radar Technician. In that capacity he was in charge of fellow soldiers responsible for setting up portable radar systems.

Quandahl said he was stationed in Chitose, Japan, being among the first U.S. troops at that location since the atomic bomb had been dropped on the island nation in August 1945. He was transported both to and from his deployment location on the USS General R. M. Blatchford.

Quandahl spent 21 months in Japan at that far northern location. From there, Quandahl said one could see the country of Russia and there was always concern that Russian troops may try and invade their location, but he said that never did happen.

Advancing all the way up to the rank of Staff Sergeant, Quandahl said he would never have achieved such a ranking without the motivation provided by his Lieutenant, who was from Ohio. Holding lifetime membership in both the local VFW and American Legion Posts, Quandahl said he kept in touch with many of the fellow soldiers he served with in Japan, but now in his 90s he is one of the last remaining members of that group.

Anyone seeking more information on the Memorial Day Observance Program in Waukon should contact Heather Homewood at the Allamakee County Veterans Affairs Office at 563-568-6135.

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