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Anne's Accounting - April 2017

Dear Patrons of Equity Elevator & Trading Co.,

As we all anxiously await spring, the Easter bunny and baby animals on the farm, there is another occasion that is on my mind these days. Our youngest son Jack is graduating from high school this year so we are sanding hard wood floors in our old house and trying to ‘pull all our projects—oh too many?!’ together before we celebrate. It seems like just yesterday when Jack was recycling Equity Elevator water bottles to feed his baby lambs and having George deliver feed from the mill for his sheep. I sure do miss those days already!

Around graduation time, our country will observe another Memorial Day holiday in remembrance of the men and women who have died for our country while serving in the military. Recently, our uncle Knute Jr. (Budd) Kvistad passed away at the age of 97. He was the last of his siblings left, and my sister Mary said “now Grandma Carrie will have all her children with her in heaven.” With both our sons now being about the same age, I can’t even imagine how Grandma felt years ago when she had two young sons called to serve in World War II after the bombing in Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941. A couple farm boys from Minnesota - that meant the world to their family - joined millions of other Americans in what proved to be the deadliest conflict in human history with over 50 million people being killed worldwide. 

In the last few years of his life when we would visit him at the Granite Falls Manor, Knute talked a little more about his time in the United States Navy. He told me he always had a soft spot for my Dad because as a little boy, Dad held onto his pant leg because he didn’t want his older brother to leave home to be in the Navy. Although they left from the same farm house (coincidentally the house I grew up in and the one our family lives in today), Knute and his oldest brother Owen would have different God given paths where our country wanted them to be to keep our nation free and safe.

Owen had a 10th grade education and started out in the United States Army. After two years, the Army was splitting into three forces. Owen figured ‘there was only one way to go in life and that was up’ so he applied to the cadet officer training in the United States Army Air Forces. He was competing amongst college graduates, and my brother Tom remembers Grandma telling him that Owen called home to ask Grandma to send him Algebra and other high school class books so he could study them on his own. As it turned out, our uncle Owen received a superior rating in flight school. Years later he told Tom that “it was one of those days when everything went perfect,” the day he took the test so he was chosen to be a flight instructor at the Air Force base at Luke Field in Texas. He trained other pilots how to fly the B-29 and taught 10 man crews how to work together. When they would fly in formation (like the geese Owen saw up in the sky back home), Owen was the command pilot. A farm boy with a 10th grade education also got to fly the Memphis Belle before it went over to Europe on combat missions.

Although it seemed unlikely being part of the Navy, Knute also was ‘in the air’ like his brother, however, he was thousands of miles away in England. I came to learn in one of our conversations, where he inadvertently dropped a hint when he talked about Joe transporting explosives and dying - that he was talking about Joe Kennedy Jr. - a fellow US Navy air patrolman. 

Knute’s squadron was one of 20, American and British, that flew bomber flights over the Bay of Biscay in B-24 airplanes searching for German U-boats in the water. His role on the 10 man crew was the Radio Operator where he set up the radios for each flight. Communications with the base during these missions were usually by code only and on specific frequencies. The spelling bee champion of Yellow Medicine County was tasked with listening for code words that could mean life or death for him and his crewmates. Knute flew on 42 of these missions searching for German submarines that were preventing supplies getting to the Allied Forces. Knute said in the first few months of their arrival in England, they lost one third of their flight crews and one half of the aircrafts - decades later and as an old man, that still weighed heavy on his mind and heart. 


Knute was awarded medals including The Distinguished Flying Cross. For his memorial service, Tom played a song he had composed on the piano titled ‘Flying High’ in tribute of our uncles Owen and Knute for their service to our country. But their service is one story in a sea of many; we all know men and women who have served and are serving today - their commitment should not be taken lightly but rather greatly respected!

After doing some researching online and some ‘family research’ (in other words a few phone calls with Tom), things have much more clarity in my mind now - because although neither of these men wanted any accolade for the time they served and rarely talked about it, their paths continued to manifest as they went through life. Owen was a gifted teacher and living next door to us in the little house on our farm, he taught me and my siblings (along with our parents) the golden rule and so many other things. In Tom’s words ‘he could paint a panoramic picture for us by saying only a few words.’  Owen was so kind and generous that he helped with my expenses while I was going to college. I guess he didn’t want me out in this big world like he was without a college education! 

Everything Owen did was definite and with purpose. Years ago, when he was near the end of his life (also at the Granite Falls manor), I had gone into labor with Kolten and the pain had subsided for a while. Jon and I decided to go get some ice cream (because we all know that’s what makes pregnant ladies happy). We stopped by the manor, and Owen put his hand on my belly. A week later he passed away and in his billfold they found two laminated items; one with pictures of his wife and daughter and the other was his certification card where he received the superior rating at the United States Air Force cadet training.  

And his younger brother Knute was a gifted communicator. He taught me that listening to what others are saying is important and the art of conversation. I always got a kick out of how he was intrigued with my cell phone - all the capabilities it had to communicate with others - and he loved to do crossword puzzles. But to put that in perspective – his life and the lives of so many others in WWII depended on communication. In comparison to the communications they had at that time - before cell phones, there were rugged field phones with D batteries that were cranked to ring phones of other military personnel. Before the internet, dogs were trained to carry messages in the trenches and miles upon miles of telegraph cables were laid. Before GPS (that we take for granted on our cell phones), maps and radar were used. And back home, before computers, my Grandma Carrie was doing some ‘copy and paste’ of her own, cutting out newspaper articles into a scrapbook and Bible verses out of magazines.

So this Memorial Day, I will visit Knute’s grave next to my Dad and thank the good Lord above for those two farm boys from Minnesota - Owen Andrew and Knute Otis - who helped shape who I am today and for their sacrifice along with so many other veterans! I will look up to the sky and smile because I know they will be ‘Flying High.’ 

Have a blessed Easter,
Anne M. Anderson

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