Joyce Mehrer, Bismarck, honored as 2019 Gold Star Mother

Bismarck mother recognized for sacrifice

Jill Schramm/MDN Gold Star Mothers Joyce Mehrer of Bismarck, 2019; Harriet Goodiron of Mandaree, 2018; and Arlene Berdahl of Minot, 2017, shown left to right, receive cards presented by American Legion Auxiliary President Linda Siewert, far left.

Joyce Mehrer of Bismarck was honored as North Dakota Gold Star Mother of the Year during a ceremony in Minot Wednesday.

The last Sunday in September is the day set aside to honor mothers who have lost sons or daughters in the defense of their country, but the Minot American Legion Auxiliary Unit #26 saw fit to remember those mothers on Sept. 11, a day that took many American service members into conflict.

Spc. Curtis R. Mehrer, son of Kevin and Joyce Mehrer, served in the Army National Guard, 1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery, Grand Forks. He died June 6, 2006, at the age of 21 when his Humvee struck two anti-tank mines during combat operations in Khogyani, Afghanistan. Curtis Mehrer has a daughter, Hailee, 14, of Bismarck. His twin brother, Alan, also lives in Bismarck.

“It’s an honor but it’s a honor that’s bittersweet,” said Joyce Mehrer through tears. “It still hurts.”

Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford presented a proclamation declaring Sept. 29 as Gold Star Mothers and Family Day in North Dakota. This is the first year that official designation includes both mothers and families.

Jill Schramm/MDN Harriet Goodiron, 2018 Gold Star Mother, places the Gold Star crown on 2019 Gold Star Mother Joyce Mehrer at a ceremony Wednesday in Minot.

“It’s an honor to be here to be part of this ceremony recognizing the incredible sacrifice that military families make when their loved ones go off to war,” Sanford said. He recounted the loss of the four members of Mehrer’s unit. Cpl. Nathan Goodiron, son of 2018 Gold Star Mother of the Year Harriet Goodiron, died Nov. 23, 2006. Cpl. Christopher Kleinwachter of Wahpeton died Nov. 30, 2006, and Sgt. Travis Van Zoest of Larimore was killed in the same Humvee incident that took Mehrer’s life.

“The Gold Star Mothers of these soldiers deserve our undying gratitude for the service of their sons and the sacrifice they made for our country as parents,” Sanford said.

When an active-duty service member dies, his or her mother becomes a Gold Star Mother. The designation dates back to the founding of the support organization in 1928 by a mother who lost her son in World War I.