Today, Marjorie Johnson is famous as Minnesota’s “Blue Ribbon baker.” She became a television celebrity and cookbook author after earning thousands of State Fair ribbons for her sweet treats. During the Korean era, she was a military wife, sweet on her husband who served in the Air Force, not on the battlefield but in the dental office, caring for American troops.
While many veterans who were drafted or enlisted during the Korean War did not understand the demands of the battle that they would face, for one Minnesotan, it was a return to service. John Hougen, whose military career stretched across three American wars of the last century, holds a unique perspective on the Korean conflict.
Some of the most difficult situations in the Korean War came in two bitter winters when American troops were poorly prepared to face extended days of subzero temperatures and frostbite. Even Minnesota soldiers who grew up acclimated to months of wintry weather struggled in the harsh conditions.
What is officially called the Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act is more commonly known as the GI Bill. Established after World War 2, Congress extended the GI Bill to cover Korean War veterans. The benefit allowed many of them to get a college education that would have otherwise been out of the question.
The commander-in-chief during the Korean War was President Harry Truman. Jim Bresnahan, a young Minnesota Air Force officer, was near the seat of power. The Hibbing native had the honor and duty of being assigned to the President as part of his security detail.
Trudell Guerue, a Lakota who grew up on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, speaks about how military service is part of a rich cultural tradition, and how he barely escaped being a combat casualty, after being wounded in Vietnam.