Editor’s note: This is one in a series of stories detailing the history of the American Legion in Wausau, including highlights about the men and women of Post 10, in celebration of the organization’s 100-year anniversary.
By David Stenklyft
Wausau Pilot and Review
As the conduit for information between the Post Commander and both members of the Post and the public, Post 10 Adjutant Dennis Borchardt is a busy man preparing for the organization’s 100th anniversary.
Borchardt grew up in Stratford, where he especially enjoyed his education in industrial arts, agriculture and public speaking. The speaking skills he learned in his youth proved valuable later in life — especially when he returned from Vietnam and became an instructor.
But early on, Borchardt said, he sensed the military was his calling. When he realized he wouldn’t be going to college and wouldn’t make a good farmer, the military became his best plan for success.
“From when I was about 15, I knew I wanted to join the military, but didn’t know which branch,” Borchardt said. “I had thought about the Seabees, but it was a four year term, then the Marines, but the recruiter was never there. So I spoke to an Army recruiter and went to Milwaukee.”
Borchardt went through basic training at Fort Campbell in Kentucky and breezed through the physical challenges involved.
“It was a lot of pushups, running and marching,” he said. “Every time we had a meal, we had to go through the overhead bars. I didn’t have any problem with that.”
After basic, Borchardt moved on to Advanced Individual Training at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. It was there where he first saw an ocean — and first volunteered for the Honor Guard. Soon, his entire training group, with one exception, went to Vietnam, where they were faced with a difficult, uncertain war.
“I went to Long Bin, which at the time was the biggest supply center in the world,” Borchardt said. “It was a pretty area at the time. My takeaway from that time was the Vietnamese people were just tired of war.”
Local villages there would be under Vietcong control one day, then American control the next. Despite the pain and stress of the war, there were some bright spots in his experience. Today, Borchardt proudly shares a scrapbook that shows, among other things, a Bob Hope performance during his tour of duty. The secondary star appearing in the show was Ann Margaret.
“The boys really enjoyed that,” Borchardt said.
The Post is on a membership drive through the summer to boost membership numbers and help veterans and their families. There are 63 programs that assist with veteran issues.
The American Legion Post welcomes all military personnel serving the U.S. Their mission is to implement the goals, aspirations, dreams, peace and blessings for our country, friends and families. Membership is based on honorable service with any branch of the U.S. Armed forces during World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Lebanon/Grenada conflict from Aug. 24, 1082 to July 31, 1984, Operation Just Cause from Dec. 20, 1989 to Jan. 31, 1990, and Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, from Aug. 2, 1990 through today.
To learn more or to join Post 10, visit the organization’s membership page.