Retired Alta High School teacher Dick Roder and his brother Charles have always cherished the memories of their grandfather, Emil Chindlund. He always had wonderful stories to tell.
As time has gone by the brothers have come to appreciate the fact that their grandfather was a dedicated military man and treasure articles in tip top condition he used and brought home with him from his service time in the Spanish American War. In the collection are a bayonet and a sword, inscribed with "Civil War, 1862 #186" on it. Apparently, some left over supplies from the previous war were used for the Spanish American War.
Emil, who grew up in the Aurelia and Peterson area was confident that he would become a service man - even if he was younger than the required 21. At the tender age of 16, he signed up at a Rock Island, Ill. induction site. "He really was serious about getting in," the brothers said. "He most likely gave the induction board a bad time until they let him in."
Afterall, the United States was hurting for troops; the military numbers had significantly been reduced following the Civil War.
The young man served under General Miles with the 6th Illinois Calvary Co. F. He took part in the expedition to Puerto Rico from July to September 1898 and served in Cuba as well.
On his discharge papers, which have been safely kept, remarks from the officers called him honest and faithful and of good character. Anyone who knew Emil, would surely agree.
He was paid $91.30 for two years of service mustering under telegraphic instruction.
Grandpa Emil talked of his service to grandsons Dick and Charles but they now wish they would have listened more carefully; as youngsters, they let many of the stories slip away.
They are curious now about the silk hanky that has been preserved, and the family whose name is written on it. The only thing they know for sure is that Emil became acquainted with the family while serving in Puerto Rico.
Emil enjoyed many winters in his later years in Long Beach, Calif., where Dick was residing. The two spent many happy times together there.
When Pearl Harbor was bombed, Charles recalled he and his grandfather were having dinner. Emil was outraged. He was one of the first to volunteer and at the ripe age of 65, he walked into the Buena Vista County Court House to register for the service. He was quite serious about wanting to serve his country again but was turned away.
In an article that appeared in the Storm Lake Pilot Tribune that captured the moment, the headline read, "Emphasizing the willingness of the BV Co. citizens to serve in WWII."
Dick and Charles talked about his dedication. "He feared he might be too old, but decided to try it anyway," they said.
He kept close tabs on the situation, wishing he could be there to share his military knowledge.
Emil died at the age of 86 in 1963. He lived in Storm Lake at the time.
The Roder brothers are glad to still have some of their grandfather's things and admitted they are good conversation pieces. And they are proud of their grandfather for wanting to defend the country he loved.
"He was an old patriot," Dick concluded about grandfather Emil.
Dick taught chemistry and physics for 20 years in the Alta High School. He and his wife now live in Aurelia. Charles and his wife reside in Arnolds Park.