The American Legion is celebrating its 100th birthday in 2019. In addition to national and statewide activities commemorating this milestone, American Post 328 of St. Joseph is planning a number of festive and patriotic activities for the community.
One of those special events will be profiles of St. Joseph-area veterans published in each Newsleader during 2019. The Newsleader is joining with Post 328 to recognize veterans and Legion members who served during World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and other theaters of conflict and Cold War tensions.
by Tom Klecker
St. Joseph American Legion
David Frank Menzhuber, 68
U.S. Army, Vietnam era
David Menzhuber was born and raised in St. Cloud. He graduated from Cathedral High School in 1968 and enrolled at St. Cloud State University for a year. He also worked at Franklin Manufacturing and the St. Cloud Times. Menzhuber reports that “at the time not much was going on in my life.” He had as yet no particular direction or specific goals in life. “I just was not doing anything.”
As a consequence, Menzhuber decided to enlist in the Army for four years. He was sworn in on Jan. 29, 1970. He was 19 years old.
Having completed basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, Menzhuber was assigned to training in the area “specific to communications and intelligence gathering.” He secured additional training at Fort Deven, Massachusetts. From there he underwent once more additional training at Two Rock Ranch, California, training specifically to his future Vietnam assignment.
In November 1970, after approximately 10 months of rigorous training, Menzhuber was flown to Vietnam. He was stationed at Phu Bia for a year.
As a specialist 5 (E-5) he would, along with others, intercept and interpret a variety of intelligence regarding major enemy troop movements. He would then inform those who planned logistics.
In spite of the strategic importance of his responsibilities, boredom was not an uncommon experience. With alcohol prohibited on base, Menzhuber and his buddies embarked on a wine-making mission. After receiving a family recipe requested from his parents, Menzhuber secured the necessary ingredients.
He made three gallons of the concoction. Covering each bottle’s opening with a condom, Menzhuber and his friends waited 21 days for the fermentation to do its job. He reported the first gallon was “good,” the second “so-so” but the third gallon made him very sick.
Near the end of Menzhuber’s Vietnam deployment of one year, the United States was drawing down forces. Menzhuber was then given a choice between an assignment in Germany or Thailand. For that additional year he chose Thailand. His job again was gathering intelligence similar to what he did in Vietnam.
In November of 1972, Menzhuber returned to the United States and was discharged from the army.
With the benefit of the G.I.Bill, Menzhuber returned to his studies at St. Cloud State. Having more diligently applied himself to his studies, he completed his general course work. Menzehuber applied and was accepted into the School of Pharmacy at North Dakota State University at Fargo.
He graduated from the pharmacy program and passed his boards in 1978. He worked as a pharmacist at St. Cloud Hospital and St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester. When a permanent opening became available at St. Cloud Hospital, Menzhuber applied. He was employed there until 1982 – 35 years. He retired in 2017.
Menzhuber met his future wife Mary while he bartended and she waitressed at the El Paso in St. Joseph. At 26, he married Mary. The couple has a son and daughter and three grandchildren. The Menzhubers currently live a few miles north of St. Joseph.
Reflecting on his military career, Vietnam in particular, Menzhuber said he wishes veterans become more active in volunteerism. Since his retirement, he has become active as a volunteer at the St. Cloud VA Health Care System.
Menzhuber’s early adult profile offers an exemplary model to all young men who might be somewhat confused and struggling with life’s challenges during a difficult transition period. Menzhuber goes into the army. And in that maturing process comes out, completes his education, secures for himself an honorable profession and loving wife and family.