David Wisted American Legion Post 28 received its charter on the 24th of June, 1919, and theirs is a great history of patriotism, support for the veterans and the military, and community involvement. In keeping with the intentions of those founding doughboys, the officers and members of the post today continue to carry on with support and activism in those areas as much as possible. The ROTC program is one of the ways that the post is active in the community, and can honor the memories of our membership of almost 100 years.
On April 16, 2016, at the AFROTC Detachment 420 Spring 2016 Awards Ceremony, David Wisted–Zenith City American Legion Post 28 of Duluth, Minn., presented the Bernard J. Chisholm Scholarship, the Robert L. Blustin Scholarship, two American Legion Academic Term Scholarships, and four American Legion Military Excellence and four Scholastic Achievement Awards at Air Force Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) Detachment 420 at the University of Duluth, Minnesota.
DAVID WISTED – ZENITH CITY SCHOLARSHIPS
For many decades Post 28 has presented American Legion Certificates and Medals in Military and Scholastic Excellence to the ROTC Cadets, both Army and Air Force, enrolled in the local universities. Several years ago the Army program was discontinued, but the Air Force still remains and over the years has had the support of many organizations and families in the area. Since 1992, the post has funded a scholarship in the name of Past Post Commander and Past National Historian Bernie Chisholm. I am proud to announce that the post now has a second scholarship program that was presented in the name of past member Robert L. Blustin, thanks to the generosity of the Blustin family.
American Legion Academic Term Scholarship Recipients:
Jean Leroy presenting to Cadet Kathryn Zylstra and presenting to Cadet Maria Carpenter.
Commander Nelson presenting American Legion Military Excellence and Scholastic Achievement Awards.
American Legion Military Excellence and Scholastic Achievement Awards
Cadet Marcus Krings, Cadet Erica Bauer, Cadet Kody Owens, Cadet Jacob Murray, Cadet Tressa Ykema Cadet Tyler Morris, Cadet Tyler Liermann, Cadet Riley Snyder
Along with our awards these cadets accumulated another 34 ROTC and organization-sponsored awards, and more because I probably lost count.
Letter received by the post from AFROTC Detachment 420:
Thank you for attending our Awards Ceremony and Luncheon at Spirit Mountain and presenting the American Legion awards. Please thank Neill and John for continuing to support what we do. Also, Please pass on my gratitude for the American Legion’s continues generosity funding the Bernard Scholarship and for the new Robert Blustin Scholarship. I hope you enjoyed meeting other presenters and observing our fine young Men and Women receiving their well-deserved awards.
Bryan L. Graddy, Lt. Col, USAF
Bernard J. Chisholm Scholarship
The Chisholm scholarship was initiated in 1992 to honor Bernie’s memory after he passed away, shoveling snow during the Halloween snowstorm of ’91. Bernie served in the Army Air Corps during WWII in England, where he met and wed his lovely wife Mary, a sergeant in the British Army. Bernie was one of many of that generation that put their sweat and blood into The American Legion. He had held every elected position in the post many times over, and had served as national historian for The American Legion, where he was on the rostrum when the Legion presented a check for $1 million toward the construction of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. During the 70’s and 80’s, when there was a movement to eliminate the AFROTC from the UMD campus, Bernie spent countless hours traveling and testifying before the state committees, houses and governors on behalf of the ROTC program. We decided to make this scholarship in his name, to the AFROTC cadet chosen by the Air Force staff, for someone they would be honored to serve with as an Air Force officer. To date we have presented $11,500 in scholarships in his name. The Chisholm family is always on hand at the ceremony to make the presentation by the grandchildren, and now great-grandchildren.
Robert Louis Blustin
Born Nov. 26, 1923, in Minneapolis, and died on July 17, 1983, in Duluth.
Mr. Blustin served during World War II in the European Theater.
He served in the U.S. Army, in the 103rd Infantry Division. He was assigned to the 1st Squad, Company F, of the 411th Infantry Regiment.
He graduated from Duluth Central High School in 1942.
Several decades ago, if you ever shopped at the Garon Brothers Jewelry Store, you may have noticed a photo of war hero M.G. McAuliffe pinning a Silver Star onto Robert Louis Blustin during WWII. In addition, you would have seen a case with historic photos of the shop that date back to the 1900s. You would also find assorted military pins and a historic Dick Tracy watch. The Garon Brothers Jewelry Store itself is historic, considering that it was over 105 years old. Owner Dave Blustin was proud of the history he had collected and had on display.
Early in his childhood, his family moved to Duluth, where the family has resided ever since. He graduated from Duluth Central High School in 1942, and by 1943 he was drafted into the Army, where he was part of the Army Air Corps. During basic training, he was tested and placed in the Army Specialized Training Program. While there, he was given a college education at Oklahoma A&M until the program was disbanded in March 1944. Many of the students went from being students to being transferred into the 103rd Infantry Division.
The 103rd Division was nicknamed the “Cactus Division” because originally it started as a regional National Guard unit out of the Southwest, but at this time it was changed into an active division. Robert served in the 1st Squad, Company F, of the 411th Regiment. They were sent for training to Camp Howze, Texas, and then to Camp Shanks, and then finally to New York, where they were shipped across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe.
The entire division of more than 3,000 soldiers was sent on a ship that was designed to carry only 700 passengers. So as you might imagine, these men, including Robert, dealt with cramped quarters and seasickness. One of the ways Robert passed the time was by playing craps and other card games with others on the ship.
At one point, Robert missed roll call because he was upstairs playing craps with a friend, who was a bigger guy from Texas. When they had to report for misbehavior, the Texan said he would take care of it. When the officers got done yelling at them for their behavior, the Texan replied, “Maybe you should send us back, then?” Of course, that didn’t happen, and they went about their business.
Eventually, they landed in southern France, at Marseilles, where they were part of the Allied invasion of southern France, Operation Dragoon, about 90 days after the forces had landed. [Note: Landing occurred on Aug. 15, 1944.] When they arrived, they needed to march about 10-15 miles to their camp. They continued training, until they took a troop train to Epinal to relieve the 45th Division.
They were committed to the front line on Nov. 11, 1944. Robert remembered that it was a rainy and cold fight, especially as they fought in the Vosges Mountains. It was here that Robert hit a roadblock with a German machine gunner.
Robert and three guys decided to do a flanking maneuver on the machine gunner’s position; Robert eventually got close enough to shoot the machine gunner. Once the machine gunner was shot, the rest of the German unit surrendered. It was because of this bold action that he was awarded the Silver Star.
It was awarded to him by M. G. McAuliffe. He had become a famous WWII figure after he was surrounded by the Germans at Bastogne and, when asked to surrender, he replied, “Nuts.”
As is common with many veterans of all eras, Robert barely talked about the Silver Star incident throughout his life. It was something that barely came up, and then only when someone asked about it. One time his son had asked him to talk about what had happened, and he replied, “It says what happened in the citation. Read that.” According to his son, he always was a very humble man. After he received the Silver Star, the Duluth Herald published an article, on June 30, 1945, entitled “Duluth GI Seconds ‘Nuts’ Cry.” The family still has the article today.
During the war, Robert received two Purple Hearts. The first one he received on an unknown date in November 1944. While marching, his unit came under fire, and he was hit with shrapnel to the face. He refused to leave the line and stayed with his unit. He earned the second Purple Heart on December 13, 1944. While on a march, one of the men in the unit tripped a wire, which caused an explosion. Robert received shrapnel in the calf and was shipped to Dijon, France, where he was treated and recuperated. By February 28, 1945, he was back in the unit.
He returned in time to be part of the “Big Push,” which was a nickname for the last major Allied offensive in the European Theater. Within seven weeks they had crossed the Rhine and were in Austria. They were moving so fast that they decided to drop many items they usually carried, such as gas masks.
They moved into Austria to help combat the Werewolf soldiers that were supposed to exist in the mountains. The Werewolf unit of the Germans was a unit designed for guerrilla warfare against the Allies. The Werewolves were fairly successful in causing injury to reconstruction efforts, but over time most of the population of Germany wanted to move on, and they did.
Robert eventually helped liberate a concentration camp near Landsberg. [Note: Liberation occurred on April 27, 1945. See www.ushmm.org/wlc/article.php?lang=en&ModuleId=10006154] This camp was a satellite camp to the much larger Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany, which was liberated by both the 42nd and 45th Divisions.
Robert eventually returned back to the United States. Like many servicemembers, he brought back some souvenirs. He brought back with him: a German Nazi sword, dagger, and a 32-caliber pistol. While in Germany he had someone make a holster for the pistol. He also tried to bring back a P-38, but lost it by the time he returned. The items he brought back are now family history items and reside within the family.
Robert’s story is a great and heroic story of one of our local veterans of St. Louis County. We are proud to have it as part of our collection, and if it wasn’t for the help of his son, Dave, his story might have been forgotten.
Source: Material based on interview by Daniel Hartman, Program Director, Veterans' Memorial Hall, with Dave Blustin on March 19, 2009.
The following is from the manuscript:
The First Fifty Years
A Compiled History of the David Wisted – Zenith City Post Number 28
The American Legion and the Men Who Served It
PREFACE BERNARD JAMES CHISHOLM
DAVID GILBERT WISTED
When the thunder of cannon ceased along the battle front on that historic day of November 11, 1918, and peace came again to the war spent world, more than 80,000 members of the American Expeditionary Forces had valorously given their lives to the cause. Today over 30,000 of them sleep in beautiful and peaceful cemeteries in the areas where they were engaged and stately monuments mark the chief theaters of American activities.
In the valley six miles northwest of Chateau Thierry at the sloping foot of Belleau Wood, the Aisne-Marne Cemetery is the hallowed resting ground for 2,269 American boys. Over the ridge a short distance lie 14,000 German soldiers. In this cemetery with Belleau Wood for a background, marble crosses and stars form curving rows around the base of the hill, while from the center of the hillside rises the chapel of French Romanesque design standing watch over this sweeping panorama. In the forefront of many long rows of crosses and stars the inscription on one reads:
DAVID GILBERT WISTED
Pvt. 6 Regt. U.S.M.C. 2 Div.
Minnesota June 3, 1918
David Gilbert Wisted, the first Duluth man killed in the World War and after whom this Post is named, was a member of the Sixth Marines in the famous Chateau Thierry drive shortly after the United States entered the conflict. David was born in Duluth on the 13th day of September 1893 of Norwegian parents. His father and mother, Iver and Davida Wisted, were both born in Norway. Prior to his entry in the service he lived at 1201 East 4th Street and was a clerk for the U. S. Food Administration Department. A reprint of a photo taken in 1913 in the 1938 issue of the Duluth News Tribune shows David was a member of the handball team which represented the Duluth Y.M.C.A. in the state and national handball tournament in St. Paul.
A copy of his Military Service Record as compiled by the Minnesota War Records Commission, State of Minnesota, St. Louis County, shows David Wisted enlisted in the Marine Corps at Duluth, Minnesota on December 15, 1917 as a Private, Serial No. 304728. He trained at Parris Island and Quantico and upon completion on February 24, 1918 was assigned to the 138th Company Replacement Battalion. David embarked from Philadelphia March 12, 1918 and arrived at the port of Brest, France April 1, 1918. On April 26th he was transferred to the 6th Marine Regiment, then part of the 2nd Division, and assigned to the 82nd Company.
Early in 1918, while the American Army was being built up in the section East of Paris, the Germans commenced their series of major offensives. Available American troops were immediately turned over to the Allied Commander in Chief to use as he saw fit. To help stop the enemy drive of May 27th, which started north of the Aisne River, American divisions were hurried into the line in the vicinity of Chateau Thierry, directly across the German line of advance toward Paris. Of the American divisions taking part in this great counter offensive, was the 2nd. David first went into action on about May 30th participating in the battles of Chateau Thierry and Belleau Wood which raged in this vicinity.
On the morning of June 3, 1918 while advancing with his company at Belleau Wood, David Wisted was killed in action by high explosive. Blood red poppies bloom around these hallowed battle grounds in great profusion.
Photo of Pvt. David Wisted upon graduation from Marine Basic Training on Feb. 24, 1918.
Dwight Nelson, Commander
David Wisted–Zenith City American Legion Post 28
P. O. Box 161353
Duluth, MN, 55816-1353
Email: a.l.post email@example.com