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By Staff | Jul 18, 2020

Back in April 2018, I wrote a column titled “U.S. Presidents who served in the military.” Thirty-two of our 44 presidents have served. This recently got me asking a similar question, “Beginning with statehood, how many of our North Dakota governors, United States senators, and United States representatives served in our Armed Forces?” Checking a website, I found the answer to this question for all three of these North Dakota political positions.

Seven of our 33 governors have served in the military in one form or another. These seven include:

Andrew H. Burke, our second governor, enlisted as a drummer boy, at the age of 12, with an Indiana regiment during the Civil War.

Frank White, our eighth governor, was a commissioned major of the First North Dakota Volunteer Infantry that was activated during the Spanish-American War. In 1898, he participated in the capture of Manila. Throughout the war, White participated in over 20 engagements, was a highly respected leader, and was awarded the Silver Star for bravery during combat.

L.B. Hanna, our 11th governor, served during World War I in France, as a captain in the American Red Cross. He was cited as an officer of the French Legion of Honor by the French government.

John E. Davis, our 25th governor, was a highly decorated officer during World War II. He became commander of Company C, 1st Battalion, 134th Infantry, of the 35th Infantry Division. He saw extensive combat duty in the European Theater, and received the Silver Star Medal, the Bronze Star Medal, and the Purple Heart.

William L. Guy, our 26th governor, served in the U.S. Navy in World War II as a gunnery officer. He achieved the rank of lieutenant.

Allen I. Olson, our 28th governor, served in the U.S. Army as a judge advocate General Corp lawyer. In 1967, he served as chief of Military Justice in Munich, West Germany.

George A. Sinner, our 29th governor, served in the United States Air National Guard with the 178th Fighter Squadron from 1950 to 1951.

Several of these governors also served as U.S. senators and U.S. representatives. Other North Dakota senators, not already named, include:

Gilbert Pierce, who our Pierce County is named after, enlisted in the 9th Indiana Volunteers as a second lieutenant in 1861. By 1864, Pierce was a colonel and an Inspector General of the War Department.

William N. Roach was a clerk in the Quartermaster Corp during the Civil War.

Mark Andrews was admitted to the U.S. Military Academy in 1944, at age 18. But, he had to quit in 1946 after receiving a disability discharge.

The U.S. representatives from North Dakota, not previously named, include:

Thomas Kleppe, served from 1942 to 1946 during World War II as a warrant officer.

Otto Krueger, served as a private in the Infantry during World War I, from April 1918 to May 1919, with overseas service in the 91st Division.

Like our presidents, I believe the time these North Dakota governors, senators, and representatives served in the military, helped develop their leadership skills, their love of country, and their sense of duty to serve their fellow citizens. I hope these values made them better politicians as well.

I am not saying time in the military is a pre-requisite to being a good politician. I would never tell anyone who they should vote for. But, I am requesting that when we are deciding on which candidate to choose for higher political offices, we should find out their position on how they support our veterans and their platform in regard to helping veterans receive the benefits they deserve. I hope we always remember, because of what our veterans have done, we have a democracy yet today. We have freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the freedom to vote, and the right to choose whichever candidate we desire. It is because of the sacrifices our veterans have made that we have these rights and privileges. So may our politicians, at whatever level, support them by seeing they receive all the benefits they have earned. Let us pray for our political leaders, that the decisions they make are both pleasing to God and best for the common good of our country.

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