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Two Veterans Share Unique Stories

November 12, 2012, 5:10 PM by Brady Mallory

Two Veterans Share Unique Stories
SIOUX FALLS, SD -

Many schools and businesses were closed on Monday to mark Veterans Day.  While the men and women who've served our country share a common bond, no two veterans' experiences are the same. 

Edgar Resel and Gail Kristensen are two honored war veterans who live at Touchmark at All Saints, a retirement center in Sioux Falls.

Resel fought in the Korean War and Kristensen would spend six months at a time in a submarine as an active duty naval commander during the Cold War.

"It was just putting up with the cold, hoping we got fed and that nobody would shoot us," Resel said with a laugh.

Resel has a few memorable stories from his time in the military, but the 85-year-old Resel has a more recent one that he can brag about. He received a thank you from the South Korean people for his services and a letter from the South Korean President thanking him for his services during the country's fight for freedom.  Recently, and he said unexpectedly, Representative Kristi Noem presented him with the Korean War Service Medal.  It was an honor given to veterans more than a decade ago.

"I have no idea why I was missed. Maybe there were other people who got missed, too, but nobody has found out about it," Resel said.

Resel does not boast about his award, however.  Though he said he enjoyed meeting Noem, he has not even hung up his medal; it sits in a drawer.  As many of us have learned, veterans are pretty modest.  Kristensen is another example.  He has had his fair share of honors for more than 20 years as naval commander.

"If you don't know anything about submarines, watch the movie Hunt for Red October," Kristensen said, noting that the movie reminds him of his own service. 

However, around the time Veterans Day comes, he does not think about his own time under the sea.  He thinks about his nephew, Eric, a Navy Seal who was overseas when was killed seven years ago in Afghanistan.

"Formalizing Veterans Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July are very important. They're key times to formally remember. All the families, they'll remember birthdays, days of death, days of marriage," Kristensen said.

The importance of family is something he learned when his wife supported him during his service.  Since he was gone for months at a time, he credits his wife for taking a lead role in raising their two daughters. Now he is rallying behind her while she fights her own battle against alzheimers.

Brady Mallory: So the roles have kind of reversed?
Kristensen: Absolutely, absolutely. Oh yes.

Though they each have different stories to share this Veterans Day, both men will tell you it's not about awards you get, it's about the lessons you learn from a life of service.

"It was really a great experience, as I said, I don't think I'd want to miss it," Resel said. "But I wouldn't want to go through it again."

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