By Bonnie Davidson
The Courier 

Veterans Get More Than A Day

Never To Be Forgotten


Lih-An Yang / The Courier

Kenny Newton, left, one of the local World War II veterans who received the French Knight Legion of Honor Award two weeks ago, sits with Michelle Etchart and the Glasgow High School band and its director, Brad Persinger, on Veterans Day at the Civic Center.

"I'm here to tell you the people of France have not forgotten, their children and grandchildren have not forgotten and France will never forget," Laurence Mackarena, Frech consul for the state of Montana said a few weeks ago.

She was visiting to honor three of Glasgow's WWII veterans, while a group of friends, family members and veterans attended to witness it. The three men did not show much emotion as she spoke of their past and their service. Perhaps they couldn't hear as well, as they're much older in age then when they served, or perhaps they had rehashed their service so many times from 70 years ago that they were remembering a time that is no more.

Here's a look into the fascinating stories of these three veterans: Lloyd Eide, Gordon Olson and Kenny Newton.

Lloyd Eide

Lloyd Eide was a young farmer starting out in 1941. He listened to the news in horror, along with the rest of the country after Pearl Harbor was bombed. A friend suggested he look at entering into the Air Corps. He thought that perhaps a higher branch in service was a good suggestion, so he went into the service only seven days after the Japanese bombed America.

He had been born and raised in Northeastern Montana. He was getting ready to leave behind all he knew in a time where men from all over the country dropped what they were doing to fight for freedom.

When asked how long he served his country, he easily replied, "Three years, 10 months and 16 days." He went to North Carolina for basic training and then moved to Connecticut, where he became part of the 79th Fighter Group. While he wasn't working in a field for combat, he did end up being a part of a group that helped free France from the Germans. He specialized in communications, working on radios and telephones, some of those communications were used in the fighter planes of the time.

They went to Egypt after a month on a British ship. Eide said that they were there to support the British, as America hadn't quite signed on to fight in the war yet. Eide said that they didn't see any major combat, but he did remember being bombed and strafed a few times. He vividly remembers the cab drivers in Egypt trying to mug the Americans and take their money.

Eventually they moved on and to battle. They went to Malta and then onto Sicily. After Sicily they moved into Italy and to the French island Corsica. They eventually supported to move into Normandy and the armies moving toward the German border.

He was awarded the French Knight of Legion of Honor Award on his 95th birthday this year. Eide said that he felt honored, but it was so long after his service. Alice Eide, Lloyd's wife, explained that those times were different and that he eventually came back home and helped on the farm until he took over. Alice also explained that he could have been deferred as he was the only child helping on the farm. Lloyd explained that his father at the time wasn't too thrilled about him heading into the service, but his mother didn't seem to mind.

"Hitler declared war on us, and then Mussolini joined," Eide said.

Lloyd joined the reserves when he came home. His total years in service added up to around two decades. He married Alice in 1952 and she said that the boys would often relive their glory days on evenings after training for the reserves. He was an active part of the community when he returned.

Lloyd was the president of the chamber of commerce, on the board of directors for Valley View, commander for the VFW, and in the Masons and Shriners.

His family was there as he was honored on his birthday, Oct. 28 this year.

Gordon Olson

Gordon Olson was 22 years old when he decided to join the service. He went to the state of Washington to train. In February 1943 he went by ship to Casablanca, Morocco. He also went into the Air Corps. He was part of the 845th Engineer Aviation Battalion and he helped build airfields in Europe to help drive the Germans out.

Olson said he drove Caterpillars. They went from Africa to Italy. He recalled moving to Corsica and assisting with the D-Day invasion of France. They also helped push the Germans out of Italy.

"France was memorable, the country was pretty and the people were friendly," Olson said.

Olson said he never had to fight, but his two brothers were also in the war serving their country. His brother Neil Olson was in the Navy and was off fighting in the Pacific, while his brother George Olson fought in the Army in the infantry and was on the ground during the Normandy invasion. His brother George was wounded twice.

While he never fought hand to hand combat, he did recall one instance in Corsica when the Germans had an air raid on the base, but no one was hurt. Only equipment was lost in the moment.

He and his brothers all made it home and Gordon said he wasn't sure how his parents did it while they served overseas, but he knew they had three stars in the window. He said that his brother George and himself never did talk too much about the war and their time in service, but they had received an education.

He came home in 1945 and worked construction in Miles City for a short time. He explained that they were laid off and a railroad job was offered to him. He wasn't thrilled about the job offer, but he ended up taking a position and learned to telegraph. He got his education with his GI bill and continued to work for the railroad for the next 34 and half years. He worked in Snowden, then Lambert and then went to Forsyth for 22 years. He eventually bought a farm south of Glasgow.

He married and had five children after the war. Some of his family and one of his brothers were in attendance while he was honored nearly 70 years after his service.

Kenneth "Kenny" Newton

For those who have spoke to Kenny Newton, they will know that he's perhaps a little humble about his time in service and perhaps one who has pride in his country and pride in his time in service. His story is something that movies are made of. He still comes into work at Newton Motors each day and continues to work.

When asked about his story and his service, he replied that there wasn't as much interest for something that happened more than 50 years ago. He said he was elated to receive the award, but he thought it touched his relatives more. Rather than focusing on himself, he wanted to focus on Veterans Day and honoring the veterans now, along with those who are serving now.

He spoke about the "veterans' preference," or jobs opening up for those returning from service. He said he felt that honoring veterans was a thing of the past and those newer veterans weren't being honored or recognized as they should.

"Veterans are not as appreciated, loved and respected," Newton said. "The fact is they left behind their jobs, their family and sometimes their life behind."

He spoke about his time in service, about how people who didn't want to go, who didn't have to go stayed home and accumulated money, education and property while they served. He said that when he came home he didn't have much to start with.

Shifting back to many years ago, just over 70 years ago, Newton was 20 years old. He hopped on a train heading for Boston in August 1944. He then made his way onto a ship headed for Scotland and ended his travel in England, where he trained for two months. He became a part of the 423rd Infantry Battalion Regiment of the 106 Division.

Back then he had just landed in Europe on Dec. 1, only 18 days later, on Dec. 19, Newton and his regiment were circled by the Germans. Newton had a friend, Mel, who marched with him into battle. They fought in the Battle of the Bulge and they froze while hearing engines and gunfire for days. He was one of 2,000 men who were rounded up and taken as prisoners. The Germans walked them two days and one night and led them to box cars full of manure. They were moved to Stalig 4B and then moved to a work camp where they built tank barriers out of tree logs.

He watched many men die, but he and his friend Mel knew if they didn't escape they would also die. They climbed to their escape. The Germans were alerted to their escape as dogs barked, and they heard gunfire as they escaped into the night. They sat in the woods for two days. Newton remembered they were gathering eggs when they were found by the Germans.

He said he lied to the Germans and said he was alone. He was about to be interrogated and sentenced by the Germans two days later when Mel appeared. Newton said that he held an egg in his pocket and gave it to him. He was surprised that his friend was able to keep the egg and was taken aback by it. They broke open the egg and traded spoonfuls.

The two friends were separated at this time. Newton said he felt alone. Their fate was to survive. The both of them were freed when the Germans surrendered. They were reunited around a year later. The war ended in late spring. Newton got out of the service in January. Mel came for a visit in the summer.

"Money was my biggest challenge when I came home," Newton said.

He said that in prison, all that was on his mind was survival, staying alive. When he came home and started looking for jobs he was focused on his family. He said the local Ford dealership in Glasgow recognized returning veterans.

"There were 14 veterans working there," Newton said. "I told Mr. Hanson I was available for anything, and he made sure it was sufficient support for my family."

He added that the owner took care of his family and he learned all parts of the dealership. He worked from the bottom up to the sales floor. He said he was able to save up funds to buy the GMC dealership, where he still works at today.

Even with his amazing story of survival, friendship and courage, he believes that he is only one of many who should be honored for their time in service.

"I want the people to build a fire in the hearts of every American that the veteran is not taken for granted," Newton said.


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