Veterans remembered for courage, valor

n Tindell among

first women to enter

WWII; Lempka’s Air

Force tour included

nation’s response to

attacks

by Jim Boyle

Editor

Evelyn Tindell made

history in 1945 when

she and 63 other

women became the

first Women’s Auxiliary

Army Corps to reach

continental Europe

during World War II.

Her hometown paper,

the Owatonna People’s

Press, reported how

this brave woman and

seven others volunteered

to help out the

war effort when “the

going was really the

toughest.”

Evelyn Tindell

Evelyn Tindell

Unlike her male counterparts,

the women

were given a chance

to back out once plans

were to send a group

overseas.

“I figured I’m in, so

I’m going to go all the

way,” she said from

her residence at The

Homestead in Anoka.

The Owatonna native

went on to serve in both

France and Germany in

her tour of duty and

received four bronze

stars for her service,

which went to individual

members of the

U.S. Armed Forces for

bravery, acts of merit or

meritorious service.

Jaime Hilyar introduced his mother, Evelyn Tindell, with his three sons, Gavin, 9, Brayden, 7, and Finley, 4.

Jaime Hilyar introduced his mother, Evelyn
Tindell, with his three sons, Gavin, 9, Brayden,
7, and Finley, 4.

The 92-year-old

woman received a

round of applause at

Parker Elementary

School on Nov. 11 as

part of a Veterans Day

program that started

out in front of the

school with a flag-raising

ceremony by the

Elk River American

Legion Color Guard

and warmed up in the

gym with speakers,

music and applause for

dozens of veterans who

turned out.

“It was so emotional,”

Tindell told the Star

News of the recognition.

Evelyn Tindell smiled as children applauded.

Evelyn Tindell smiled
as children applauded.

“I never had so

much attention. This

was all new to me.”

Capt. Kari Lempka,

an aircraft maintenance

officer who

served in the United

States Air Force from

1998 to 2003, also

spoke at the program.

She spoke highly

of all veterans for

their courageousness

in risking their

lives, their defense of

the Constitution and

beliefs of freedom and

for having stood for

bravery, courage and

valor.

Her courage was tested

when the United

States responded to

terrorist attacks on

American soil.

Hilyar introduced

Grandmother Tindell

Jaime Hilyar, the

activities director

at Zimmerman High

School and Tindell’s

grandson, introduced

Tindell at the program.

“We are proud of her

accomplishments as

one of the first women

to serve our country,”

he said, noting she was

one of seven women

from the Owatonna

area to answer a patriotic

call from the business

and professional

women’s club when she

joined the auxiliary

corps known as WAAC.

Women in this group

were the first women

other than nurses to

serve within the ranks

of the United States

Army.

Tindell did her

basic training in Des

Moines, Iowa, where

she learned to become

a soldier. She then

went to Long Island,

N.Y., to learn how to

be a communications

specialist before shipping

across the ocean

to London, England.

Her hometown newspaper

did reports on

her when she left and

during her tour of duty

with the 1st Tactical

Air Force service command.

She worked as a

radio operator, and she

instructed the men on

how to become radio

operators, too.

One of their jobs during

the war was to track

American planes in

and out of the states in

their particular sector

of concern, and when

an enemy plane was

detected a U.S. fighter

plane was instructed

to circle back.

Tindell and her comrades

made history

again in October 1945

when they came home

from her World War II

service on a troopship

called Queen Mary,

which was on its last

voyage. The ship was

docked and remains

a tourist attraction to

this day in San Diego,

Calif.

As for her four bronze

stars, she’s not sure

what she got them for.

“They didn’t tell us

too much,” she said.

“And what we knew, we

were sworn to secrecy.

We couldn’t repeat it.”

9/11 attack on U.S.

started Lempka’s tour

Lempka is an

Alexandria native. She

is married to Scott

Lempka, a former an

assistant principal at

Otsego Elementary

School.

The Lempkas are the

parents of two Parker

Elementary School students,

Charlotte and

Dean Lempka, and a

baby, Rosemary, whom

she and her husband

recently adopted.

The Air Force veteran

talked to Parker students

about her decision

to join the service

was due in part to her

desire to complete a

college degree program.

But it was bigger than

that.

After four years of college

and learning how

to become an officer,

she was commissioned

as a 2nd Lt. in the Air

Force.

She became an aircraft

maintenance officer,

who was responsible

for ensuring that

aircraft mechanics had

the tools and training

they needed to fix Air

Force jets.

All that became so

much more important

after Sept. 11, 2001,

when terrorists executed

a plan to steal

American airplanes

and fly them into the

World Trade Center

towers in New York

City and the Pentagon

in Washington, D.C.

Here is a picture Capt. Kari Lempke took from the boom pod showing an F-16 fully loaded with weapons being refueled while flying over the snow-covered mountains of Afghanistan.

Here is a picture Capt. Kari Lempke took from the boom pod showing
an F-16 fully loaded with weapons being refueled while flying over the
snow-covered mountains of Afghanistan.

“Our nation was

under attack, and our

military responded

quickly,” she said.

Lempka’s services

were needed on the

tiny island of Diego

Garcia in the middle of

the Indian Ocean.

“The island was so

small it was basically

a big airport,”she said.

Her unit of more than

100 soldiers helped

support flight missions

over Afghanistan,

including the deliverance

of fuel to the

fighter, bomber and

reconnaissance aircraft

looking for terrorists.

Capt. Kari Lempke in the boom pod that has a long tube used to refuel jets.

Capt. Kari Lempke in the boom pod that has a
long tube used to refuel jets.

“We worked a lot,” she

said. “Our job was to

keep the planes flying.

“It was an exciting

job, and I learned

much about myself,”

Lempka told Parker

students and staff and

the veterans and their

families attending the

program.

Lempka explained

how the KC-135 planes

were fitted with huge

fuel tanks in the belly

section and wings of

the aircraft, allowing

them to fuel other

jets while in the air.

Stacy Sheetz, a physical

education teacher,

scanned through slides

and launched a video

about the fueling process

of a KC-135 and a

C-5 Galaxy, the largest

aircraft in the U.S. Air

Force inventory.

“Without the use of

refueling aircraft like

the KC-135, many of

our country’s fighting

aircraft could not make

it across the ocean,”

she said. “Without

these planes, our Air

Force would not be

very effective accomplishing

our mission to

protect and defend the

United States.”

KC-135 at hangar

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