Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
Veterans Day is Nov. 11
By Duane Stanley
First Lieutenant Dean A. Stanley of Kimball, a C-47 combat pilot, was one of the select Troop Carrier combat crew members chosen for the all-important job of flying resupply items of food and ammunition to the trapped American First Army units in the Bastogne area in Belgium (December 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge). Troops, including the 101st Airborne that had parachuted in, were cut off and surrounded. Only airdropped supplies allowed them to hold out against the German war machine until Allied reinforcements could arrive. The operation was the greatest supply mission ever organized in the European Theater of Operations.
This information was part of the military news release that Dean's father, Lafe Stanley, carried in his billfold for so long that each fold pretty much disintegrated. He was more than happy to pull it out and tell how proud he was of his son.
The Kimball flyer had previously taken part in the airborne invasions of the Cherbourg peninsula and German-occupied Holland. He was awarded the Air Medal and first Oak Leaf Cluster for these operations.
Dean was also part of the massive invasion on D-Day, providing air support during the storming of the beaches of Normandy. The pilots of First Squadron (Dean, second from right, kneeling) were based out of England and had this photo taken June 5, 1944, the day before D-Day. The next day, five of the pilots were shot down; three would never return.
Following Germany's surrender, Dean was shuttling prisoners of war who had been released from the German Stalags to the coast of France where they boarded ships to return to the U.S. As he prepared to make his next run, a recently-released prisoner crowded up to the pilot. He stuck his face in front of Dean and yelled, "Stan, don't you know me?" It was Jerry LeVasseur, who recognized the letters marking Dean's plane. Jerry was a good friend, glider pilot, who had been captured on D-Day, and was rescued at the end of the European action. Only the day before his capture, Jerry had learned that his wife had given birth to their first child after the flyers had been deployed to England.
The wives of the two flyers were good friends and after their husbands returned to America in 1945, the four of them spent a week together at White Bear Lake. Today, the only one still living, Blanche (Todd) Stanley is an active 90-year-old living in Florida. Her son, Craig and his wife Kathy, took Blanche to Hawaii this past September.
Dean returned to the U.S. and to his young bride Blanche, whom he had met at a roller skating party in Kimball, where Blanche was a teacher in the Kimball school. The Stanleys moved to Washington, Iowa, where Dean, despite being offered the opportunity to serve as a corporate pilot for Northrup King, decided to hang up his wings and focus on a career in agriculture. A University of Minnesota graduate, Dean was an agricultural research scientist for Northrup King until he retired.
The old squadron continued to hold annual reunions for many years, until only Dean and one other member remained. Dean Amund Stanley died in February 1998, at Fort Myers, Fla., where the Stanleys made their retirement home. A gravestone in the family plot at Maine Prairie Cemetery honors his life.
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"Stirring up Memories" 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 16, at the Kimball City Hall. Come and participate in the fourth annual Holiday Pot-luck supper and social. All you need to bring is a dish to pass, your appetite, family and friends. Or come alone and meet some of the great folks who wrote our keepsake cookbook. Utensils and beverages will be provided. This is your final reminder. Rave reviews are still heard from previous years. Won't you join us? All are welcome, and it's free.
Fall is definitely upon us and imagination abounds as we journey into the holiday and winter months. Want a great gift idea? Consider a new or renewed membership into the Kimball Area Historical Society, for yourself or someone else, all tax deductible, as well as several commemorative souvenirs. Keep these in mind while thinking Christmas.
Today in history:
In 1842, Abraham Lincoln married mary Todd in Springfield, Ill.
In 1880, the first cash register was patented by James and John Ritty of Dayton, Ohio.
In 1952, Dwight Eisenhower was elected president, defeating democrat Adlai Stevenson.
In 1980, Ronald Reagan won the White House as he defeated President Carter by a strong margin.
We want to hear your story. Our society's gifted writer for this and other column stories in this newspaper, volunteered to help you write or re-write your family story, if you can even submit a "rough copy" of the information to the address below. Doesn't that sound like a great idea?
For more information, column stories, photos, comments, memberships and memorial donations, you're invited to contact the Kimball Area Historical Society, Box 100, Kimball MN 55353, or phone (320) 398-5743, or 5250, or e-mail
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The richest people are not millionaires, they're volunteers
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