Husband, wife veterans gung-ho about Memorial Day

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by Dennis Dalman

Married military veterans Chuck and Kitty Haselkamp of Sartell have long been gung-ho about Memorial Day ceremonies, and they wish more people would attend them.

As it has for many years, this year’s Memorial Day service in Sartell will take place at Veterans Park on the west bank high above the Mississippi River. The ceremony, which begins at 9 a.m. Monday, May 27, will feature speakers, live patriotic music, a color guard, laying of a wreath and a gun salute.

Chuck Haselkamp, who is the commander of the American Legion of Sartell, will give a welcoming speech.

“For me,” Chuck said, “Memorial Day is a lot about the guys in World War II, and that’s because I’ve known a lot of them. And it’s about soldiers in all the other wars, too, of course. They all gave something, and a lot of folks nowadays don’t realize all the sacrifices they gave. People have a right to protest, but they should remember where that right came from, from the ones who fought to keep our freedoms, including the right to protest. All people should attend Memorial Day ceremonies to remember what many sacrificed for this country.”

Kitty agreed.

“It’s important as a nation to remember all those who sacrificed their life for our freedom,” she said. “And we shouldn’t forget the ones back home, the families who also sacrificed. Many lost their loved ones in wars, and some don’t even know what happened to them and so there is no closure for them. The loved ones are lost at war, never found. My father Alphonse – we call him Al – was stationed on the U.S.S. Arizona in the Pacific. Fortunately, he was not on that ship when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and sank the ship and others.”

That attack is what led to America’s entry into World War II.

Chuck and Kitty met while both were in the U.S. Navy, stationed at Miramar Naval Station in San Diego. Chuck was a member of the Navy from 1978 until 1998; Kitty joined in 1979 for a four-year service.

Chuck was an aviation structural hydraulic mechanic; Kitty was a yeoman who worked in administration and did paperwork for enlisted officers.

After his retirement from the Navy in 1998, Chuck has worked as a mail carrier for a rural St. Cloud route. Kitty now works at Fulfillment Distribution Center in St. Cloud as a processor and coordinator.

The couple has two grown sons, Bill and Tim; and one granddaughter, Jovie, 5, who is Bill’s daughter.

“Back in 1980, at the Miramar station, I had a white 1968 Camaro,” Chuck said. “I used to give a ride to and from work to a woman.”

One day the woman’s roommate asked her, “Who’s driving that cool white Camaro?”

Her roommate said, “Oh, him? That’s just Haselkamp.”

It sounded to Chuck as if the roommate named Kitty, keen on his car, might also have a yen for him. So he summoned the courage to ask her for a movie date. Thrilled, she canceled a date with a Marine to go to the movie, “Final Countdown.”

After two years of dating, the couple was married by a justice of the peace in Florida (at Kitty’s brother’s house) in 1982. Then almost exactly one year later, they were remarried at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Sartell.

Chuck was born and grew up in St. Cloud. Kitty was born in Belleville, Illinois, but was raised in Margate, Florida.

Chuck spent many of his last naval years stationed in Hawaii. As his retirement approached, he told Kitty he’d like to move back to the St. Cloud area because he missed the snow. Kitty wondered, missing snow?! She remembers doing a double-take, wondering if he was kidding or had temporarily lost his mind.

But move they did – to Sartell, back to the snow.

Long a member of the American Legion of Sartell, Chuck was named its commander last year. Kitty is also a member of the Legion and will carry a flag in the honor guard, as she did last year.

contributed photo
Chuck and Kitty Haselkamp on the day they were married in Florida by a justice of the peace. They were married almost exactly one year later in a formal church ceremony at St. Francis Xavier Church in Sartell.


Author: Dennis Dalman

Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.

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