A phone call 10 years ago started a project that took on a life of its own. I thought would be a simple thing to show honor to a long-forgotten hero: PFC Floyd K. Lindstrom, a man who received the Medal of Honor for his actions on Nov. 11, 1943, in Italy. I thought that dedicating the new flagpole outside American Legion Post 5 in Colorado Springs would be a good but easy way to honor this hero.
As I researched the history of Floyd Lindstrom, it became clear that there was a lot to this man. Growing up in a place for orphans and the elderly poor, and having a drunk for a father, it would be easy for Floyd to give up and just live and die, and not amount to anything.
During the Depression was when Floyd would start to show what he was made of. Finishing high school and having to leave the Stratton Home to live with his sister and mother across the alley from Post 5. Floyd had to find a job to help the three Lindstroms make it through the dark times. It was in 1931 that Floyd walked around the corner of his apartment to Sommers Market. Floyd not only got a job, but soon became the truck driver of the market - not just around town but the long-haul driver back and forth to California from Colorado Springs, carrying items both ways. So, just out of high school, he was able to not only get a job but one that took a lot of trust by the owner. Floyd loved being outdoors, because he refused inside jobs at the Sommers Market. Floyd dreamed of being a rancher and one day maybe finding love.
Floyd did find love, at the same place he found a paycheck. Sommers Market hired a man named George Wackenhut. George was a good worker, but what made Floyd a happy man was George had a daughter. Mary Jane was a small dark-haired girl with beautiful brown eyes. Mary was a few years younger than Floyd, so he had to wait to start his life with her until she finished her high school studies. But a marriage to Mary Jane was not in the cards. She became ill and passed away in January 1942. Mary Jane was laid to rest on Feb. 3, 1942, in Evergreen Cemetery in Colorado Springs. Floyd placed flowers on Mary’s grave at Easter and what we call Memorial Day. While he was in the Army, he would send money to his mother Anna to place flowers for him on those two days.
With the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the passing of Mary Jane, Floyd decided to go into the military. The day after Floyd’s 30th birthday would be another turning point for the man who showed that anybody can overcome their past. Most likely on the way to Camp Roberts in California, Floyd would meet up with another man answering the call of the country: Robert Maxwell, another hard worker from Colorado. These two men stayed together from Colorado to training and were broken up when they got to 3rd Inf Div. They were in the same battalion, just different companies: Robert to Headquarters and Floyd to H Company. The fact that makes this stand out is that Floyd did his actions to receive the Medal of Honor 10 months before Robert did his actions to receive his own Medal of Honor. At the time of this writing, Robert Maxwell is the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient in the U.S.
The actions behind all 3 awards Floyd received had one thing behind them: to save his friends, the men he served with, who he mostly looked at as family. In July 1943, during actions on Sicily, Floyd saved men from being run over by a truck that was not parked with the hand brake on. What made this noteworthy was that they convoy was under an air raid by 3 F109 German fighters. The trucks were loaded with ammunition. Floyd would receive a Silver Star for leaving his place of safety to stop the truck of ammunition from running over his brothers.
Nov. 11, 1943, is the day most of us focus on, which rightly we should. On that day on a barren, rocky hillside in southern Italy, Floyd showed everyone what a hero should be. Picking up his own machine gun, which weighted about 2/3’s his weight, Floyd attacked the Germans who outnumbered his men 5 to 1. Floyd was able to kill the German machine gun crew and take the captured weapon to his men downhill. Floyd returned to the German’s MG point to get ammunition for the captured weapon. Floyd did return his own 30 cal water machine gun to help stop the German counterattack. One general called Floyd “A One-Man Army” on that day in November.
At the end of January 1944 Floyd made the landing at Anzio with the rest of the 3rd Inf Div, even when given the chance to stay in the rear because he was up for the Medal of Honor. Floyd said he was there for his men. On Feb. 3 during the counterattack by the Germans, Floyd's machine gun post was attacked which was by a factory building. Floyd’s sister, Pauline Rohe, later recounted that she was told that he was killed in an explosion. The one man not killed was Marvin Crone. So very few would know who this man was. Marvin Crone was the assistant gunner for Floyd. Almost all the time, the mg crew are killed together. Marvin’s son would later state that Marvin would say if it was not for Floyd, he would not be alive. I believe in my soul that Floyd saw that they were going to be able to hold their spot and told Marvin to fall back and he would fall back after Marvin was safe. But Floyd being a person who would not give up himself too easy, he stayed longer than he should have. Floyd did receive a Purple Heart for being killed in action. He never did receive credit other than from Marvin Crone for saving one last soldier/family.
With the day being 2 years after Floyd last saw his beloved Mary Jane, one must think if it was a greater plan for him to turn a great day of sorrow to a personal day of joy. Floyd got to see his Mary once again while saving a man who was more a brother than anybody else. In 1948 Floyd was brought home to Colorado Springs and buried in Evergreen Cemetery, a few blocks away from Miss Mary. In 1970 Floyd’s mother was laid to rest next to him.
While at the start of this article I said I was just planning to do a flagpole to honor Floyd, that did not end up being the case. Post 5 sponsored Floyd’s name on the Colorado Freedom Memorial in Aurora. While doing research I made an ally in Costas Rombocos owner of the Shrine of Remembrance in Colorado Springs. This pairing of a past Post 5 commander since 2011 and Costas have been able to place two plaques (one in Cripple Creek, Colo.), a flagpole and a monument to the 3 Medal of Honor awardees who have their medals accredited to El Paso County, Colo. We used the first plaque unveiling to springboard the effort to name the new VA clinic after Floyd. In 2017 two big things happened. The first one was unveiling the display case to show items that were around when Floyd walked this earth: a WW2 uniform, a pillowcase for his mother from Camp Roberts, a machine gun belt for 30 cal water-cooled machine-gun, a pistol belt with holster for a 1911, and soil from that hillside from Italy and sand from Anzio. The second was meeting Floyd’s cousins in Nebraska.
Along the way I have found out that there is a group of people thankful of the freedom they enjoy now because of men who fought the forces that wanted to enslave them. Men like Floyd Lindstrom and Lt. Maurice Britt were two of these men who left their homes and did their part to free Europe of the Nazi rule. On the same hill on a day apart, these two men would be recommended for the Medal of Honor. Using some of the research I posted online, Luigi Settimi became the ramrod to honor the two men who went above and beyond the call of duty. My Italian counterpart set up a monument at the base of the hill Lindstrom and Britt went up into history. Through a lot of work by Luigi there is a 3rd Inf Div society post 16 named The PF Floyd K Lindstrom Post in Italy, of which I am honored to be a honorary member. On the 75th anniversary of the actions of these two men doing their actions to receive the Medal of Honor, we did a joint event in Italy and Colorado Springs. In Colorado we placed a wreath at Floyd's grave in a snowstorm at the same time Luigi Settimi and his group lit candles for these heroes on the road up the hill they traveled into history.
After returning from the trip to Holdrege, Neb., and meeting Larry Lindstrom, a cousin to Floyd, I knew I needed to do something big where all the people in Colorado Springs might one day see the name of Floyd K. Lindstrom. Knowing of a Jesse Funk, researching showed there was a third man who received the Medal of Honor, Gerald Young. In 9 months, I was able to receive the funding and get the monument unveiled to these three heroes. Without the help and guiding help of Costas Rombocos I would have never been able to make the impossible time frame I decided on without any knowledge on what to do to get a monument into Monument Park in Colorado Springs.
The American Legion Riders of Post 5 will meet on three days to remember Floyd: Nov. 11 for the day that made him a person who should never have been forgotten in Colorado Springs; Feb. 3 to remember that Floyd gave the last full measure for his friends; and Memorial Day because he gave his all for the country he loved. On Feb. 2, 2019, at 1 p.m., Major Drew Dix will finish out the last piece of this “flagpole” project which will be placing the Medal of Honor in the PFC Floyd K Lindstrom VA Clinic.
Whenever you ever feel that a hero is forgotten, then just start doing something and learn as you go. People might join you to honor somebody if you truly believe in what you are doing. The biggest thing I will say is: believe in what you are doing and try not to worry about what others say on why you are doing the mission you are on, because if your cause is just then you are doing what is right.