McKinney Cemetery site for annual memorial service on May 25

Submitted Photo McKinney Cemetery near Tolley was founded around 1886. For over 80 years an annual memorial service has been held there.

TOLLEY – For over 80 years an annual memorial service has been held at the McKinney Cemetery located two miles north and one and a half miles east of Tolley.

The memorial service to honor fallen veterans will be held Saturday, May 25, at 5 p.m., and is open to everyone. An identification sign will be at the turn-off on Highway 5. In case of inclement weather, it will be held at the Tolley City Hall.

The Minot Air Force Base Honor Guard will present colors at this year’s memorial service honoring 52 veterans buried at McKinney Cemetery (33), Trinity Lutheran Cemetery (6), Hamerly Lutheran Cemetery (6) and St. Charles Catholic Cemetery (7).

The memorial address will be given by Lt. Col. Jose Castaneda, chief of Training and Plans for the 5th Operations Group at Minot AFB. He advises and supports the Operations Group commander on long-range plans while collaborating with the operational support and bomb squadrons to create a combined group training schedule. As a B-52 instructor pilot, Castaneda teaches and mentors younger aircrew members both in and out of the cockpit to ensure the aircrew operating the 5th Bomb Wing’s fleet of B-52 bombers are primed to provide long-range strike capability for world-wide operations. Prior to his current assignment, Castaneda served as chief of Safety with the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. He is a command pilot with more than 2,500 flight hours in the B-52, F-16, T-38 and T-37.

A few of the veterans being remembered paid the ultimate sacrifice during the war.

During World War I, Pvt. Elmer Irgens was wounded in France as he served with Charlie Company, 35th Division. Irgens died from the effects of wounds, gas, and shell shock shortly after returning stateside for treatment.

During World War II, Pvt. 1st Class Ivan Ones served with the 95th Infantry Division in France during the offensive against Metz, “the road that leads to Germany and to Victory.” Just two days before the city was taken, Ones was killed in action on Nov 19, 1944. Also serving in World War II, Gunners Mate First Class Wesley Morris was stationed aboard the USS Bismarck Sea which was sunk during the battle for Iwo Jima. The assault on the USS Bismarck has gone down in history as the bloodiest battle in naval and Marine Corps history. On Feb. 21, 1945, two Japanese suicide planes hit the carrier and started uncontrollable fires and set off ammunition. All efforts to save the ship were halted by the exploding ammunition and she sank in 90 minutes with the loss of 318 men, including Morris. The invasion engagement lasted 36 days with a toll of 5,931 Marines and 17,372 Navy dead.

As you pause to reflect this Memorial Day, consider the remarks by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the certificate sent to the family of Wesley Morris, but applicable to all who gave the ultimate sacrifice: “In grateful memory of Wesley Wickman Morris who died in the service of his country at Sea, Asiatic Area, attached U.S.S. Bismarck Sea, 21 February 1945. He stands in the unbroken line of patriots who have dared to die that freedom might live, and grow, and increase its blessings. Freedom lives, and through it, he lives – in a way that humbles the undertakings of most men.”

Founded around 1886, McKinney Cemetery is nestled along the Souris (Mouse) River on three acres of land. It was certified as a historic location by the National Register of Historic Places on Dec. 28, 1978. The nomination for historic status identified the cemetery as the oldest cemetery in Renville County. The cemetery was dedicated on June 22, 1913, according to The Tolley Journal. Just outside the cemetery fence stands the log cabin built by Frank Swenson in the 1890s and restored by the wildlife refuge. The McKinney Cemetery Association was first organized on July 20, 1911. Current officers are Martin Irgens, president, David Stark, vice president, and Loretta Buchholtz, secretary-treasurer. Many volunteers assist with caretaking and upkeep.


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