Veteran serves during two wars
Bottineau County native helped Europe rebuild
Lloyd Brodell, 97, was an 18-year-old looking to see the state of affairs in Europe for himself when he enlisted in the U.S. Army as World War II was coming to a close.
The Newburg-Russell native also had another motive for enlisting. He hoped to visit Margraten, Netherlands, where his only brother, Alvin, was buried in an American military cemetery. Alvin Brodell, a year older, had died in October 1944 on a European battlefield. He had been declared missing in action until his body was found in December 1944.
As the remaining son on the farm, Lloyd Brodell was not obligated to fight for his country but he wanted to serve.
“I volunteered to go,” he said. “I wanted to see what was going on in the world.”
Enlisting in April 1945, he was sent to Fort Snelling in Minnesota and later Jefferson Barracks in Missouri. He took basic training in Louisiana but was discharged because the war had ended.
However, he was given the option to re-enlist and go overseas.
“I said ‘Sure.’ So I re-enlisted,” he said. His second stint in the Army was from November 1945 until December 1946.
He boarded a ship in Norfolk, Virginia, for the two-week sail to France.
“I got scarlet fever on the ship going over. I wound up in the ship hospital, and pretty soon another guy got scarlet fever, so there’s two of us,” Brodell said.
He spent time in France and Germany as an electrical lineman, repairing poles and telegraph and telephone lines. He learned to climb poles and string, splice and insulate wires.
He also visited his brother’s grave, taking a photo to bring home.
He turned his military lineman experience into a 38-year career with Northwestern Bell after returning to North Dakota.
Working in Minot, he met a telephone operator who became his wife on June 24, 1950. When he and Anne returned from their honeymoon, the Korean War started. Brodell was called into active duty with the Army National Guard, which he had joined upon his discharge from the regular Army. The Brodells relocated to Fort Lewis, Washington, where their children, Becky and Steve, were born. Brodell, a sergeant, helped train the younger soldiers at Fort Lewis.
In 1952, the family moved to Velva, where Brodell worked for Northwestern Bell until retiring in 1984. He also was a member of the American Legion in Velva, helping with the breakfasts, bingo and other events hosted by the organization.
Becky Brodell said many of the military documents saved by the Brodell family over the years only recently resurfaced to shed insight into those times. Among the family’s keepsakes are several military documents, including official communications related to Alvin’s disappearance and death as well as documents related to Lloyd’s enlistments and discharges. The keepsakes include a letter sent by Alvin to his family three months before his death.