Vernon ‘Vern’ Hinrichs

Vernon Adolph Hinrichs was born May 22, 1928 in Lidgerwood, ND. He attended Dexter No.1 Country School and Lidgerwood Public School. He quit high school and began laying power lines across the state of North Dakota. However, in 2005, Lidgerwood Public School honored Vernon with a high school diploma saying, “you have certainly earned it by now.” In 1947, Vern began working for Lake Electric in Devils Lake, ND. While working as a lineman, he met and then married Betty Lou Bogstie in 1950 in Breckenridge, MN.

Vernon was drafted into military service on June 6, 1951 in Fargo, ND. He served in the United States Army as a Sargent with Company F, the 35th Regimental Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division in Korea for two years. According to Vern’s son-in-law, when he first arrived in Korea it was winter and the soldiers had not received their “Micky Mouse” boots yet. Because of this many soldiers ended up with frostbit toes and feet. Vern had an extra pair of socks and he would put those socks under his jacket and into his armpit; and he used his body temperature to keep them warm and dry. Unlike the other soldiers, Vern never got frostbite. When Vernon recalled this memory to his son-n-law he said, “You would think those other dumb*&*#@#’s would have learned that!”

During his time in Korea, Vernon was awarded the Bronze Star. According to Vern’s son-in-law, the incident  involved a night attack by the Chinese. Vernon was in charge of firing a mortar. The Chinese were within “spitting distance.” Vernon held his position and continued to fire while enemy mortar rained down upon him. His actions saved his unit. Concerning his Bronze Star, a letter of accommodation states, “During the period March 31, 1952 to January 11, 1953, Sergeant Hinrichs served in a highly commendable manner as a rifleman in Korea. Throughout his period of service he displayed initiative, resourcefulness and great devotion to duty, working constantly to maintain the high level of combat efficiency of his unit. His ability to cope with any emergency and his calm courage under fire were an inspiration to his associates and earned him the respect and confidence of his superiors.”

At one point in Korea Vernon was wounded and his back was pierced by shrapnel. At a young age, his daughter Sharon asked him about the large “scar” on his back. Sharon said he just down played it and said it was a scar. According to Sharon, “that’s just the way he was…he never talked about the war to his daughters because he felt the need to protect us.” Unfortunately a fire, in 1973 at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri, destroyed Vernon’s service records regarding the wound he incurred.

Vern was honorably discharged from service in 1953 and transferred to the Army Reserve. He and Betty moved to Sleepy Eye, MN where he worked for Brown County REA as a lineman until retiring in 1991.

He was a member of the DAV, a life member of the VFW and held several officer positions in the American Legion, including post commander. Vern loved to fish, hunt, golf, travel, and bowl. He and Betty had two daughters which gave them five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. Vernon passed away on May 5, 2014 at his home in Sleepy Eye, MN. On his headstone it reads “I did it my way” because that is how he lived his life.


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August 06, 2022 08:06 pm
Emily Ezell
I love this story! What a wonderful legacy to leave behind for his family.

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Korean War - Key Events

December 6, 1950

The U.S. Marines at the Chosin Reservoir begin their “attack in a different direction” as they engage in a fighting retreat to the port of Hŭngnam. Two entire Chinese armies have been tasked with the destruction of the 1st Marine Division. They succeed in driving the American force from North Korean territory but pay an enormous price: as many as 80,000 Chinese troops are killed or wounded, and the CPVF Ninth Army Group is rendered combat-ineffective for months. “Frozen Chosin” becomes one of the most-storied episodes in U.S. Marine Corps history.

These events are taken from the Encyclopedia Britannica

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