Writings and observations

carlson

For the sixth year now since moving back to the “home country,” on the 4th of July we drive a short ten miles from our home on Cave Lake to the annual Rose Lake Regatta. There’s a “parade” of six to ten neighborhood boats, a short program and then a potluck.

It’s all informal, relaxing and enjoyable as about 100 plus year-round and summer-only residents enjoy each other’s company. It’s about American as American can be. We sing a few patriotic songs. Generally the subject of politics is avoided.

As event organizer for 31 years, fellow Kellogg native Tim Olson, once said to me, “Chris, on the 4th of July we are neither Democrats nor Republicans. We are all Americans who love our country and love our freedoms.”

Tim is someone I wish I’d gotten to know years before that first regatta in 2010. He’s one of those decent, hard-working, country smart people one finds all over Idaho. For years he was the top lobbyist for Regence Blue Shield of Idaho and he still lobbies in Boise.

He also was the tall stud star on the last basketball state championship won by Kellogg in 1964. He and his high school sweetheart, Julie, went on to Idaho State, which Tim attended on a basketball scholarship. Their marriage has been blessed and they’ve become our good friends.

My role has always been to say a few non-partisan words about Idaho and note the previous day in 1890 was when Idaho became the 43rd star on our flag. Then I lead the group in the singing of the State Song—“Here We Have Idaho.”

Tim surprised me this year when he announced a special award besides the regatta winners. It was for the person the board felt had made a solid contribution to the welfare of the state. He announced I was the winner, which caught me totally by surprise. Knowing that our son, Scott, is a major in the US Marine Corps, the prize was a large volume telling the story of many of the nation’s Medal of Honor winners.

Further to my surprise, though, there was no account of our fellow Kellogg resident, Frank Reasoner, mortally wounded in July of 1965 in Vietnam. He was awarded the medal posthumously for honoring the code that says no Marine is ever to be left behind.

First Lieutenant Reasoner, in command of Company A of the 3rd Recon Battalion of the 3rd Marine Brigade, was killed in action while trying to retrieve a wounded member of his command.

His story should be required reading in all Idaho history classes (As should the stories of Idaho’s other 12 winners) much as students in Texas hear and memorize Colonel Travis’ speech before the Alamo was overrun.

Reasoner was born in Spokane in 1937 but largely raised in Kellogg. He enlisted in the US Marine Corps three months before his 18th birthday in June, 1955. Initially trained as an airborne radio operator, he rose through the enlisted ranks quickly to become a sergeant, but he decided he wanted to be an officer.

He studied hard and successfully passed the entrance exams for America’s academies, then accepted an appointment from Idaho Senator Henry Dworshak to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

He began his collegiate time there in the summer of 1958 and graduated on schedule in June of 1962. He was placed on the inactive reserve list of the Corps during his time at West Point. A good athlete, he lettered in baseball and wrestling. Being from Kellogg, though, he loved boxing.

He holds a record that will stand forever at West Point: in four years he won four brigade boxing championships at four different weight levels.

Second Lt. Reasoner still had to enter and finish the demanding Officer Training Program at Quantico. One imagines it was a
snap for him and in January, 1963, he began a three-year assignment with the Fleet which lead him into Vietnam in April, 1965, and his death in July, 1965.

His body rests on a knoll in Kellogg’s Greenwood Cemetery just above St. Rita’s Catholic Church. He has a beautiful view up the valley and into the mountains surrounding Kellogg.

A brisk breeze blowing off of Rose Lake with gorgeous clouds flying by brought me back to the present. I said a special prayer of thanks for all those who risk life and are in harm’s way, current members, as well as veterans and their families and relatives to protect our freedoms.

This evening I added an additional prayer for the service of Frank Reasoner as well as his 216 Idaho colleagues who made the ultimate sacrifice.

God Bless America.

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Carlson