Orice Larson has several medals and mementos from his service to his country with the United States Army in World War II, but he was visably deeply touched by the honor accorded him Saturday at the conclusion of the Burnt Powder Festival at the Watson Hunting Camp.
Larson, 93, was presented with a commemorative M1 Garand rifle and a plaque from the Civilian Marksmanship Program for his service to his country, not only in World War II, but in the nearly seven decades since.
The inscription on the plaque reads: Staff Sgt. Orice L. Larson In appreciation for honorable service to the United States of America on this 19th day of October, 2013.
To be eligible for the honor, the recipient must be nominated by either a United States Senator or Representative.
State Rep. Collin Peterson, who nominated Larson for the award, said: “Orice, you’re one of the remaining members of the Greatest Generation. We owe so much to those people for what they did. We wouldn’t be the country we are if it wasn’t for them.”
Fewer than 25 veterans have received this honor in the last three years and only one from Minnesota, said Scott Maddox of the Civilian Marksmanship Program, who, along with Paige Carter-Smith, made the trip from Tallahassee, Fla., to assist with the presentation.
“The Civilian Marksmanship Program wanted to promote that we have heroes in everyday life,” said Maddox. “They did their service and were quiet leaders at home in everyday life. Collin said, ‘we’ve got just the fellow.’”
Tim Kolhei, Chippewa County Veterans Service Office, said Larson has held every position in VFW Post 380. For 18 years he drove a van taking veterans, most younger than himself, to the VA Hospital in Minneapolis.
The M1 Garand is a weapon familar to Larson, as he tested “expert” with it during the war.
“I don’t have a speech writer or a teleprompter, but what I tell you comes from my heart,” said Larson. “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
See page 12A for a story on Larson’s war experiences.
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