Fond Du Lac, Wis. (WFRV) – “I said, ‘Eh, why not?’ It’s something to do, my dad was in WWII and I thought I should do something for my country,” recalled Dan Dahlke.
Dahlke still feels that call to serve to this day, even after stints in the Army reserves and the Army.
Dahlke started as a military police officer at Baumholder in Germany in 1969. He initially wanted to be a truck driver.
“Of course the old adage in those days was, ‘If they want you to drive a truck, it’s going to be a wheel barrel.’ So, I raised my hand and thought it’d be exciting, and I ended up getting a license for four different military vehicles at the time,” Dahlke said.
“And when I was an MP, on my days off there were a number of times I’d jump in a deuce-and-a-half and go cross-country and pick supplies for our company,” he said.
But before finishing his service in ’71, Dahlke would be put on duty that he would continue for the rest of his life.
“The last six months of service, the second-highest command post in Europe in Stuttgart, the commanding general there had an honor guard and he was running short of soldiers who were more than 6 foot tall,” he said.
Dahlke happened to fit that bill.
And the rest is history; Dahlke has been part of the Honor Guard with the American Legion ever since joining, currently serving as the commander for the post in Fond du Lac.
He estimates he’s been a part of more than 1,500 funerals for veterans, and he has no plans of stopping.
“I feel very honored to do a funeral for a veteran. As the squad does our firing and our taps, you can see on the faces of the family of the veteran that they really appreciate what we’re doing that day,” said Dahlke.
“Once in a while you see a tear and some sniffles, and it makes me feel good that I’ve done something for the family and the squad has done something for the family. That’s what it’s all about, to give that final salute to our veterans,” he said.