News: Neillsville Am. Legion (Honoring Sunsdahl & Reither - 2017)
Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon
----Surnames: Sunsdahl, Reither
----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark, Co) 2/01/2017
Neillsville American Legion (Honoring Sunsdahl & Reither – 2 January 2017)
Neillsville American Legion to Honor Sunsdahl and Reither
By Todd Schmidt
Neillsville American Legion Post 73 will honor military veterans Harlen Sunsdahl and Radford Reither, both retired Neillsville teachers and coaches, during a special recognition program Monday, Feb. 6. Social hour is scheduled at 4:30 p.m., with a potluck meal starting at 5:30 p.m. and the recognition program to follow.
Harlan Sunsdahl served in the U.S. Army from 1963 until his honorable discharge in 1966. He will be recognized for his military service during a program Monday, Feb. 6, at Neillsville American Legion Post 73. (Contributed photo)
Sunsdahl was born in Thief River Falls, MN. His family later moved to Tower, MN, on the Iron Range. He graduated from Tower-Soudan High School in 1961.
Sunsdahl attended Virginia Junior College from 1961-1963. He then enlisted in the U. S. Army in 1963 and began basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO.
After basic training, he went to Ft. Gordon, GA, for Military Police training. He was shipped overseas to Bremerhaven, Germany, and from there he took a train to Berlin.
At that time, Berlin was in communist East Germany and was divided into four sections controlled by Russia, France, Great Britain, and the United States.
Sunsdahl’s duties included jointly patrolling the wall in an area known as Checkpoint Charlie with German policemen. There were East German officers stationed in the patrol towers.
“People would often try to escape from the East, and we could assist them once they got to the top of the wall,” Sunsdahl said. “Sometimes the East German guards shot them before they could get to the top.”
His other duties consisted of working as a bodyguard for a general and assisting with traffic control at times, including when Queen Elizabeth and other dignitaries visited the city. His unit also conducted normal police work involving incidents with American soldiers.
There were approximately 5,000 U. S. soldiers stationed in Berlin at this time. Sunsdahl served two and one-half years in Berlin before being honorably discharged in 1966.
He then got a job at the Erie Mining Co. In aurora, MN. After a short time, he moved to Los Angeles, CA, where he worked at Krusen Wire and Steel Company.
Sunsdahl moved back to Minnesota and enrolled at Bemidji State University, graduating in 1968 with teaching degrees in physical education, social studies, health, and driver’s education.
He began his teaching career in Henning, MN, as a physical education teacher and as a football, basketball, and track coach.
He and his wife Diane of Thief River Falls, MN, were married in 1967.
In 1970, the young couple moved to Neillsville. Sunsdahl taught and coached football, and track at Neillsville High School.
He was head coach for nine years and had a state championship team in 1975. In 1980, he graduated from Winona State University with a master’s degree in school administration.
From 1980 to 1985, he was the assistant principal at Neillsville High School under Superintendent Henry Lukes. Sunsdahl was the high school principal from 1985 to 1991.
Sunsdahl recalled a time when students got very pro-active with a community project.
“I am proud that several students started a petition that gathered hundreds of signatures to promote The Highground, which at the time was being considered for a Neillsville location,” Sunsdahl said.
He retired in 1991 due to heart problems. After retirement, he and Diane decided to stay in Neillsville.
“We like the town and the people,” Sunsdahl said.
He and Diane have three children, Eric, Katy, and Lee and are blessed with four grandchildren.
In addition to “staying alive,” Sunsdahl’s hobbies include being a history buff, watching history shows on television and reading “the real newspapers.” He and Diane enjoy fishing, and traveling to see their children in Minnesota and Florida.
“I am very proud to have served my country in the military,” Sunsdahl said.
After graduating from college in the early 1960s, Radford Reither served in Army National Guard units at Black River Falls and Eau Claire until his retirement in 1991. He will be recognized for his military service during a program Monday, Feb. 6, at Neillsville American Legion Post 73. (Contributed photo)
Radford Reither was born in Aitkin, MN. He graduated from Bennetville Elementary (a log cabin county school) near Aitkin and from Aitkin High School in 1954.
He attended Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN, graduating in 1959.
After college, he joined the Army National Guard and took his basic trading at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO. He was a member of a National Guard unit in Minnesota.
Reither attended Mankato College from 1960 until 1964, graduating with a master’s degree in physical and health education.
In the summer months, he went to National Guard training in Chalon, France, where he worked in administration and in the training of wearing gas masks and proper protective clothing.
In 1965, he played defensive tackle for the Denver Broncos professional football team. He suffered a shoulder injury and was only able to play half the season.
Reither finished the year teaching physical education and health at Holy Family High School, in Denver, CO. He then moved to Faribault, MN, where he taught physical education and health and coached football at Morristown High School from 1966–1970.
Reither then got a teaching job at Melrose-Mindoro High School, where he also coached football from 1970 to 1975.
Reither moved to Neillsville in 1976 to take a position as the football coach and physical education and health teacher at Neillsville High School.
Reither served in National Guard units at Black River Falls and later at Eau Claire. He received a Certificate of Recognition for his years of service during the cold war, signed by the secretary of defense.
He retired from the National Guard in 1991 and from teaching in 1996.
Reither was married to Carol. They have four surviving children, Gary, Sheila, Loree, and Jeff. They lost a son, Matt. Their children were all star athletes at Neillsville High School.
They have 29 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Reither plays golf in the summer and travels to Aitkin twice a year to visit his high school friends.
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