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70-year Legion member

By Staff | May 11, 2018

Bonnie Remmick/PCT Don Diepolder and his wife, Dora (right). Don fought in the Pacific Theater during World War II.

Don Diepolder former farmer from Willow City is a WWII veteran now living at Haaland Estates. He just celebrated his 92nd Birthday with wife Dora. This month Diepolder was awarded a 70 year certificate of membership from the American Legion. The American Legion was chartered by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization.

Diepolder joined the US Navy at eighteen and was assigned to the USS Flint stationed in the Pacific Theater in WWII. While Don served on the USS Flint, they received four stars for battle while they served in the US Navy off the coast of Japan, China and Taiwan.

Diepolder, now 92, is a resident at the Haaland Estates in Rugby. He retired from farming in 1990 from the Willow City area. Earlier in his career he worked at the Implement in Willow City but his dream was to farm. “We bought the farm, and everyone thought we were foolish,” said Dora. “We didn’t know anything much about farming, but we learned.” The joke was on the neighbors, the farm flourished and they farmed until 1990. Don and Dora have been married 65 years.

Dora, now lives in the apartments across the street from where Don is receiving care after having a stroke. “I’m called Dora the Explorer by all the kids in Rugby,” she said, in reference to her name. “We really enjoy it when the kids come from the school to sing and perform with their musical instruments.”

Diepolder said he didn’t remember much, “after the stroke I don’t remember sometimes,” he said. But ask him about the war and he remembers everything. “It was a very sad, bad time for America,” he said. “War is really hard, those memories I can’t forget.” Don was on the USS Flint. He proudly shows his pictures of his Navy team, and the picture of the USS Flint which hangs on his wall in his room at the Haaland Estates. He is a proud member of a small population of ‘the greatest generation’ that remain.

The USS Flint, which Diepolder served on during World War II, reported to the 3rd Fleet for duty at Ulithion on December 27, 1944. Diepolder remembers a 4-week cruise in support of the invasion of Luzon. The Flint screened aircraft carriers that launched strikes on Luzon, Taiwan and the China coast. The Navy launched protective anti-aircraft cover during a Japanese attack on January 21, 1945. In February that year, the Flint sailed with TF 38’s for all air strikes on Tokyo preceding the attack on Iwo Jima. Later the Flint would prepare with air strikes against Kyushu in preparation for the invasion on Okinawa. The crew on the Flint aided in bringing down many airplanes in heavy attacks on Okinawa which lasted from March 18-22, 1945. The cruiser made a voyage from Japan that loaded homeward bound servicemen bringing them into San Francisco Bay, after the war concluded.

Don Diepolder is a hero living right here in Rugby, one of the greatest generation’s few remaining.

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