Hoeven Honors Service of Four North Dakota Veterans

Senator Presents Military Awards to Ernest Hoelscher, Roger Sundsbak and Families of William Garrison and Clarence Eliason

MINOT, N.D. – At a ceremony in Minot today, Senator John Hoeven honored the military service of four North Dakota veterans. The senator presented military awards to Ernest Hoelscher of Berthold, Roger Sundsbak of Velva and to the families of Minot veterans William Garrison and Clarence “Kelly” Eliason.

“North Dakotans have a strong tradition of dedicated military service,” said Hoeven. “These veterans and their families have made tremendous sacrifices serving our nation. Today we honor their service and present them with the medals they earned serving in the U.S Army.”

Private Ernest R. Hoelscher

Ernest Hoelscher, son of George and Daisy Hoelscher, was born on July 24, 1930. He grew up in Ward County with his six sisters and three brothers. Ernest was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1952 and served in the Korean War. He was discharged at Fort Carson in 1954 and transferred to the Army Reserve to complete eight additional years of service under the Universal Military Training and Service Act. Ernest was wounded while serving, and Senator Hoeven’s office is working to obtain a Purple Heart for him.

Ernest met his wife Shirley at the Parker Auditorium, and they were married on March 15, 1953. Together they have four children: Wayne, Sheree, Ken and Bruce. Ernest spent his life farming in the Foxholm area and currently resides in Berthold, North Dakota.

Private Ernest Hoelscher Military Honors

  • Army Good Conduct Medal
  • National Defense Service Medal
  • Korean Service Medal with 2 Bronze Stars
  • 50th Anniversary Korean War Service Medal
  • Combat Infantryman Badge 1st Award
  • United Nations Service Medal

Clarence “Kelly” Eliason (presented to wife Mary “Cory” Tompkins)

Clarence “Kelly” Eliason was born in October 1967 to Mr. and Mrs. Oren Eliason in Kenmare, North Dakota. He was raised on a farm near Coulee and graduated from Kenmare High School. Kelly earned a wrestling scholarship to Minot State College. In 1967, Kelly enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in the Vietnam War. He was selected to attend Officer Candidate School (OCS). After completing OCS, he was selected to attend Special Forces and graduated as a Green Beret. After Vietnam, he was an A-Team Commanding Officer at Fort Devens, Massachusetts and served as an S-2, then S-3 officer, at the 10th Special Forces where he volunteered for the Special Atomic Demolition Munition. Kelly served in the Army Reserves in Minot from 1971-1979 before being honorably discharged.

Kelly was an oil/gas/coal landman for Pat Ballantyne in Minot. He became the District Landman for CONSOL, responsible for the western division, which included everything west of the Mississippi River. Kelly met his wife, Mary “Cory” Tompkins, at the Minot State College Vets Club, and they married in 2002. Kelly and Cory moved back to Minot in 2005. He passed away unexpectedly on February 1, 2014 at his home, with Cory by his side.

Clarence “Kelly” Eliason Military Honors

  • Bronze Star Medal
  • National Defense Service Medal
  • Meritorious Unit Commendation
  • Combat Infantryman Badge 1st Award
  • Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon
  • Vietnam Service Medal with 4 Bronze Stars
  • Marksman Badge and Rifle Bar
  • Parachutist Badge - Senior

Private First Class Roger Sundsbak

Roger Sundsbak was born in Minot, North Dakota to J.B. and Alma Sundsbak and has three brothers. He lived in Des Lacs, North Dakota and graduated from Des Lacs High. Roger enlisted in the Army in September 1966. He said it was the right thing to do with the Vietnam conflict going on. After enlisting in 1966, he completed basic training at Fort Lewis, Washington and was trained in advanced infantry at Fort Polk, Louisiana. He served one year in Vietnam and was honorably discharged at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri in 1966.

Roger worked at Minot Air Force Base and retired in 2010 after 22 years of civil service. He raised cattle and rodeo bull. He traveled around the country showing cattle for different ranches and owned Northern Livestock Auction with George Bitz until 2013. He currently works as a field representative for Napoleon Livestock Auction. Roger has two daughters, Dawn and Andrea and three grandchildren, Drew, Cale and Piper. He currently resides in Velva, North Dakota.

Private First Class Roger Sundsbak Military Honors

  • National Defense Service Medal
  • Vietnam Service Medal with 3 Bronze Stars
  • Combat Infantryman Badge 1st Award
  • Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon with Device
  • Expert Badge with Machine Gun Bar
  • Marksman Badge with Auto Rifle bar with Rifle Bar

William Garrison

William Hope Garrison, son of John and Naomi Garrison, was born on June 22, 1915 in Hampton, Virginia. He spent his childhood in Hampton and Newport News, Virginia. He left high school and enlisted in the Army at age 17. He later completed his GED while in the service. William served active duty from 1931-1945. During World War II, he was sent to war by landing in Sicily and going up the boot of Italy into Germany. He was discharged and served in the Army Reserves from 1945-1950. He was recalled back to active duty and spent October 1950–October 1951 serving in Korea during the Korean War. He continued serving active duty from 1951–1960 in various locations including: Sparta, Wisconsin; Battle Creek, Michigan; Fort Riley, Kansas; Kitzingen, Germany; and Fort Benning, Georgia. He served from 1960–1962 on a Korean Peace Keeping Mission. He spent the last three years of his service assisting in the organization of the 11th Air Assault Division at Fort Benning where he was honorably discharged on August 31, 1964.

William met his wife Helga at Fort Patrick, Virginia where she was serving in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. She stamped William’s name on his duffle bag during his deployment preparations. They were married in Minot in April 1946 and together raised two daughters, Dianne and Gladys. The family has resided in Minot since 1965. Following his retirement, William worked at a car dealership and taught driver’s education before receiving a civil service appointment at the Minot Air Force Base Commissary, where he worked as a stocker before being promoted to manager. William passed away at the John Moses Air Force Hospital in Minot in October 1968. Senator Hoeven presented the awards to William’s daughter, Dianne Thomas.

William Garrison Military Honors

  • Army Commendation Medal
  • Good Conduct Medal
  • American Defense Service Medal
  • American Campaign Medal
  • European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 4 Bronze Stars and Arrowhead
  • World War II Victory Medal
  • Army of Occupation Medal with Germany Clasp
  • National Defense Service Medal
  • Korean Service Medal with 3 Bronze Stars
  • Armed Forces Reserve Medal
  • United Nations Service Medal
  • Honorable Service World War II Lapel Button
  • Sharpshooter Badge with Carbine Bar
  • Korean Defense Service Medal
  • 50th Anniversary Korean War Service Medal