Robert “Bob” Minson, 91, of Creston is one of hundreds of area military veterans who will be honored today during an unveiling of a veterans honoree and memorial wall 11 a.m. today at Veterans of Foreign Wars Ballfield.
Minson chose to enlist in the Navy reserves in 1948.
“I joined it because my buddies did. We all did,” he said.
He completed basic training in Colorado Springs, Colorado, at Prospect Lake before. He completed a number of training cruises off the coasts of Guantanamo Bay and Havana, Cuba, and San Francisco, California, before entering active duty in 1952. During his active duty, Minson served as a radar man aboard the USS Pollux (AKS-4), a supply ship responsible for delivering goods and equipment to locations in war zones during the Korean War conflict. It was a war in which more than 2,500,000 people lost their lives.
While on radar duty, Minson’s role was to keep watch “from surface to air.”
“You’d sit down and look through a little scope and you watch the air and the surface (of the water). You look for any movement, anything and you would call the corp master and he would come down and check it out,” he said.
Minson said he’d spot the occassional ship or air plane, but only once he had a real scare. The ship had lost all power.
“We had a black out,” he said. “But, it was drill, was what it was. I thought something was happening. They had warned us, you know,” he said.
Minson said the drill made him understand more how real the situation was.
“I’m a normal person and I knew something was wrong,” he said. “I didn’t know what but it leaves a question mark in your mind and how differently it could have played out.”
Minson was on that ship for two years, stationed in Yokosuka, Japan. He’d return the United States, but not to visit. His ship was there to reload and fuel up in Honolulu, Hawaii, before heading back to Japan.
“There was lots of hula girls. They were always out there doing their hula dance when the ship would pull in,” Minson said.
Life on the ship was much different. It was much more populated than the four person school house he attended growing up in Colorado Springs. While he missed his small knit group – Marie Bevins, Bob McKnight and Bill Brown – he made friends with a man he believes was from Michigan. While he doesn’t remember his name, he recalled playing “hours and hours” of cribbage and pitch while on “liberty.” Liberty was the term used to describe time-off. During this break from work, Minson and friends would take “liberty boats” from the ship to shore to play games, explore and shoot hoops.
While he made many good friends in the military, one person aboard his ship surprised him.
Minson recalled a day he was called up to the deck. He had been aboard the ship for approximately a year.
“I walked up to the deck and I remember my younger brother standing there,” he said.
Minson said, when he arrived to the deck, his younger brother Luther Marlin Minson, a sea man, was standing there in uniform with a sea bag strapped to his back.
“He got assigned on my ship. I didn’t even know he was coming,” he said.
Minson, the eleventh of Luther Everett Minson and Nellie Marie (McGinnis) Minson’s 12 children, said he’d stay in touch with his family by corresponding by letter with his mother, who he’d write every other week. Seeing his brother for the first time in a year was welcomed.
“He was following in my steps, I guess,” Minson said.
Minson served in the Navy on active duty until 1954. He continued to serve as a reservist for, he thinks, two additional years. He returned via a port in San Francisco before he was flown to Colorado Springs, where he said he was welcomed home by friends and family.
“Everybody greeted me and welcomed me back,” he said. “They were all glad to see me and I was glad to see them. I knew I was going home and I was OK.”
Minson said the experience, while scary at times, was good for him.
“I learned how to take care of myself. I’ve learned to respect other people. I think I respect people now. It rubbed off on me,” he said.
On Nov. 7, Minson celebrated his birthday by taking a sneak peek at the veterans wall, which was covered in paper. Joe Anson, who initially brought up the idea of having such a monument in Union County, helped peel back the paper so Minson could see.
Upon seeing the wall, Minson said “I almost melted.”
“It was beautiful. It was very emotional,” he said. “I almost cried. Not that I’m a cry baby, but it means so much so much to me to see my name on a wall like that.”
“It makes me feel so proud that the community has come together and donated this,” said Britt Minson, Bob’s son.
“I would have never thought there would be veterans wall in Creston, Iowa, but they made it happen,
Britt said. “It’s amazing to me. I didn’t have the opportunity to serve, but I definitely respect those that did.”