Harald Anderson & Richard McBride
DUNCOMBE — A 70-year anniversary of anything is rare enough to warrant special commendation.
The Duncombe American Legion was lucky enough to honor not one, but two members who have each been in the legion for 70 years, at a special time during its Memorial Day ceremony this year.
Harald Anderson and Richard McBride, both 92, were surprised at the honor. And for McBride at least, while it was a great honor he wished things had gone differently.
“It was kind of a disaster,” McBride said. “I didn’t look like an ex-Marine. I tell you, they’re fussy how you dress.
“I think they should have told me, so I could wear my hat, and my white shirt and pants like you’re supposed to.”
McBride was anything but “sloppy” in his service in the United States Marine Corps. Wanting to serve his country during World War II, he enlisted at age 18 and completed boot camp in 1944.
In September 1944 he took part in the campaign with the highest casualty rate of any battle in the Pacific War — the three month Battle of Peleliu.
“The first day I helped with the wounded people,” McBride said. “They didn’t have their penicillin yet. They lost a lot of legs.
“I was in transportation over there. I think I ran everything you can imagine. I can still remember them saying, ‘You’re from Iowa aren’t you?’ They figured people from Iowa can do anything, you know, farm people.”
Anderson joined the American Legion before he ever saw overseas service. He was drafted into the Army on Dec. 28, 1948, and served in the transportation division at Fort Lee, Virginia. He was discharged January 1950, then called back again in September after the Korean conflict began in June.
“I went to Fort Riley again, and from there I went to Fort Carson in Colorado,” Anderson said. “We went from there to California, January of ’51 to ship out.
“We took a slow boat to Korea.”
Out near the front lines, Anderson was a truck driver and a line man, stringing communications lines for the artillery.
When he was honorably discharged in 1952, Anderson moved back to Spirit Lake and began working as an auto mechanic. Later, his brother-in-law’s landlord had a farm Anderson could farm in the Duncombe area, so he moved that way.
In Spirit Lake, Anderson was a Legion member and was commander one year, he said.
“After I moved here, the first or second year I was the commander here,” he said. “After that I was the finance officer up until now.”
Anderson not only still serves as finance officer, he’s continued to work in other ways.
“I’ll be 93 my next birthday,” he said. “I do all my own work, I help a farmer in the spring and fall.”
There are about 32 members of the Duncombe Legion these days, Anderson said. They provide the flags for the Memorial Day services, decorate the cemetery with flags and crosses, and furnish the rifle squad at military funerals.
“I did a lot of them. Some of them old rifles we had were disasters,” McBride said. “We don’t use them no more.”
Anderson not only worked on cars. He also raced cars in the area for a number of years, especially a ’35 Chevrolet coupe he did most of the work on himself.
“The machine shop bored the engine out, but I put it all together,” Anderson said. “They came out in ’58 with that 261 (engine), and I got all my parts from California.
“The year my brother got married, he rolled his car about the week before he got married. He said if I wanted to fix it up I could race it while he was on his honeymoon. So that’s how I got started.”
Anderson received the Distinguished Unit Citation, and the Korean Service Medal with two Bronze Stars when he was discharged.
McBride was honorably discharged after 17 months with the Marines, and was awarded the World War II Victory Medal and the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal.