BERTHOLD More than 50 years ago, Oliver "Ole" Skinningsrud of Berthold served with the U.S. Marines during the Korean War.
Now, through the efforts of David Williamson and Dale Dallman and some military members in California and Korea, Skinningsrud received a veteran's "thank you" for his service to his country. Skinningsrud was in the Marines from 1952 to 1954, serving in Korea.
Williamson and Dallman, recently presented Skinningsrud with a U.S. flag flown in the nose cone of a U-2 plane over the Korean/Asian area. Maj. Michael L. Colson, director of operations of the 5th Reconnaissance Squadron "Blackcats" in Korea personally made a flight in a U-2 aircraft with the U.S. flag.
Williamson and Dallman presented Skinningsrud the flag in a shadow box along with other memorabilia from the "Blackcats." The memorabilia includes a certificate, a 5th Reconnaissance coin, a "Blackcats" souvenir coin and a piece of barbed wire from the Demilitarized Zone separating North Korea and South Korea.
Earlier Williamson gave Skinningsrud his "Blackcat" cap with the insignia on it. "It was one of my hats that had my First Sergeant insignia on it," said Williamson. Williamson was in the Air Force from 1980 to 2006, retiring from Minot Air Force Base. He served with the "Blackcats" before coming to Minot AFB.
Dallman and Williamson work at Capital R.V. in Minot. When Williamson needed some firewood, Dallman introduced him to Skinningsrud, who farms in the Berthold area. Dallman, a Vietnam-era veteran, served in the Marines from 1960 to 1968.
"We were talking one day about Korea and he (Skinningsrud) was over there during the war. He was up in the Kiempo and Incheon areas. It was neat to sit and hear him talk about the war and town he was in and know where he was talking about," Williamson said.
Williamson, in an e-mail to Air Force Col. Jeffrey Stout, his former commander and now group commander at Beale AFB, Calif., told Stout that Skinningsrud is interested in aircraft so he told Skinningsrud some things he knew about the U-2. "He was really fascinated," Williamson said.
The U-2 is best known as the plane U.S. pilot Gary Powers was flying when he was shot down over Russia, Dallman said. That incident occurred in 1960.
Williamson asked Stout if something special could be done for Skinningsrud who had served in Korea more than 50 years ago during the Korean War. He asked Stout if he could help get a flag flown in the nose of a "Blackcat" and a certificate with date and mission.
"He (Skinningsrud) wears that 'Blackcat' hat everywhere he goes and tells everyone how you guys are flying real-world missions," Williamson told Stout.
"Blackcats" commander Lt. Col. Quinn Gummel flew a mission July 17 when he took along a U.S. flag in the U-2, flying at 60,000-plus feet. Afterward the flag along with other memorabilia were sent to North Dakota to Williamson for Skinningsrud.
When Williamson and Dallman gave the flag and other items to Skinningsrud "it brought tears to his eyes," they said.
Skinningsrud was in the 1st Marine Division when he was in Korea.
"I just get goose bumps," said Skinningsrud when he received the flag and memorabilia. "I used to work guard duty on the DMZ when I was over there."
Skinningsrud recently displayed the flag and other items from the "Blackcats" at the Dakota Territory Air Museum in Minot.
"It's really showing our appreciation to him as a Korean War vet," Williamson said of their efforts.