Mandan neighbors reflect on their memories as veterans

Published: May. 29, 2023 at 8:32 PM CDT
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MANDAN, N.D. (KFYR) - Memorial Day is the time we remember those who have served to defend our country, and many of them are our neighbors. Your News Leader sat down with two veterans that have recently moved into the same neighborhood and become friends.

Bill Koch just has to walk right up the hill to sit down with Tony Beckler, and they talk about their time serving to keep each other company. Memorial Day is a holiday that is near and dear to both their hearts.

“Well, just to get together with fellow veterans and observe the holiday. You know, to honor those. I have really close friends and relatives buried at the Veterans Cemetery,” said Koch.

Tony Beckler was drafted to fight in the Vietnam War and during that time he received three purple hearts. One thing he would have never imagined was the polarization of the country when he got back, and remembers what he was told when he landed in the United States.

“As soon as you get home, take your uniform off. What you don’t want them to know is you’re a Vietnam Veteran, and I’ll never forget where the guy was exactly from North Carolina or someplace down south. He stood up and he said, ‘Sir, I’m keeping my uniform on,’” said Beckler.

Even though Becker was awarded many times, all he cared about was keeping the other men safe, and to this day that’s what he’s proud of.

“He says right now, today, there are thirteen extra guys out here that would not have been here. And that to me was better than any medal or anything when that general said that to me,” said Beckler.

As he reflects on these memories, he’s proud of what he did to serve his country and is happy with how the view of veterans has shifted after the Vietnam War.

Both men say it’s nice to have someone to talk to about their time in the service, and they feel relieved after they do.