By Dan Sandberg
Milaca VFW Commander
Friday, Aug. 10 saw the City of Milaca bury a man named Carl Pearson. His family put together his obituary for the local paper. It told of Mr. Pearson’s life as usual. He married, raised his family, worked hard, fought off a couple life-threatening health issues and dealt with them for years to come. Mr. Pearson was an avid outdoors person, hunting and fishing, and just plain enjoying nature as long as he could. He attained the age of 96 years before the “Big Fisherman” up there claimed him.
Mr. Pearson had many friends, some more special, perhaps, than others. I know one pair of folks who watched out for him for a long period of time. He lost his wife some time ago, so apparently they felt he needed some extra TLC. Many of the people in town would bring him baked goods, etc. Since he hunted so much, the exchange item was often venison jerky.
Perhaps you knew everything I just told you about Carl Pearson. And many of you may be aware of what I am about to say about another part of Carl’s life, and that was his military life. I just feel it needs repeating. His service days were talked about in the Mille Lacs County Times several years ago, but I feel it needs one more disclosure.
Carl was drafted into the Army on April 16, 1942. He became part of the 24th Evacuation Hospital. Of course, this was the second World War. The hospital was maintained in large tents in the summer and during the winter, the Army would take over the hospital in whatever country they were in. Carl worked 12-hour days unless they were in the midst of moving the hospital unit. As they moved closer to the front, they would have to evacuate the patients to another hospital and then take the tents down and move. In one year they moved 12 times from France to Belgium, to Holland, then Germany. The tents housed the lab, X-ray, surgery and receiving.
Carl remembered specific incidents, situations and people just as if it all happened yesterday. Carl spoke about tending to wounded enemy prisoners. He said he didn’t take issue with it at all. After all, they were done fighting and getting three meals per day. “They almost seemed happy to have been wounded and captured.” Corporal Pearson’s stories and recollections would last as long as you were willing to listen. I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to know Carl all that well. He was a life member in my VFW post and also an American Legion member. He held the position of Officer of the Day at the VFW, a job he took seriously.
Carl, which a lot of you remember, was a meat cutter here in Milaca. He transitioned to civilian life after the war quite easily. Carl said, “I got a job and so I did it.” This was Carl Pearson, who was involved with his Army crew, who in one year took over 13,000 x-rays and performed over 9,000 operations with what we can only imagine were quite tough, unorthodox, and antiquated methods compared to today’s standards.
But Carl did it because it had to be done, just as he lived his entire life.
So, goodbye, Carl, another quiet hero to pass through our town. How many more of them are out there? You might be very surprised!
— Until next time…
Dan Sandberg is the Milaca VFW Commander. The Veteran’s Corner is published once per month in the Mille Lacs County Times.