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Ralph Van Beusekom

Ralph Van Beusekom

B-26 Air Force Pilot & Land O’Lakes Employee

Born: Delano, MN, United States
Heritage: European American

Get an education. Pay attention in school. Do your homework. You all can probably do better than what you think you can do. Set high goals for yourself and strive to reach those goals. Go for it! Give it a try!

Ralph Van Beusekom

B-26 Air Force Pilot & Land O’Lakes Employee

My name is Ralph Van Beusekom. I was born October 28, 1929, in the doctor’s office. The stock market crashed on October 29. I grew up on a farm by the little town of Delano, Minnesota. Back in those days you were born in the doctor’s office.

I had five brothers and sisters. We all had our own chores to do on the farm. We had a big round-roofed barn. In the lower level of the barn were 36 cows and six horses. In 1931 there was big fire in the barn; a fire started in the middle of the night. The whole barn burned down and all 36 head of cattle died in that blaze.

The fire spread to the machine shed. All the machinery with wood burned up. The fire spread to the hog shed and burned everything except the house. In those days we didn’t have any insurance. My dad started over from scratch. Neighbors donated calves to us. We were able to build the farm back up.

I went to St. Peter’s Catholic school in Delano. In the mornings we didn’t just jump on the bus and go to school. We rode one hour and a half to get to school. The bus stopped at every farmhouse.

I like basketball. Like all of the kids today, you like some kind of athletics. A lot of
us who were farmers couldn’t play basketball, though. We didn’t have activity buses to take us home. We had chores to do on the farm. We slopped the hogs and threw down the hay.

When we did any farm work we had to hitch up a team of horses. We did everything with a team of horses. When lunchtime came, we’d bring horses [to] the barn to remove the harnesses, and feed and water them and so on. Mom would have lunch ready. After lunch we would go back out and work in the field all day. When we got our first tractor, it was quite a contrast. Instead of bringing horses in at noon we drove a tractor home for lunch. We simply turned off the switch and ate.

In 1950, the Korean War started. On December 30, 1950, three buddies and myself enlisted in the Air Force. After taking many tests, I was trained to fly planes. I graduated from navigation school on March 23, 1953. A month later I got my wings. About a month before I completed that training the war ended in Korea. They sent me to fly a cargo plane, which was a big Globemaster. They sent us to Korea as replacement pilots.

I was in a B-26. The B-26 has a plastic bubble nose. To get to where I sat down I had to crawl through a small space to get to the pilot compartment up in the nose. It’s like sitting out in the middle of nowhere. We flew along the allied side of the 38th parallel, monitoring the border between North and South Korea. After Korea, the whole unit was sent to Japan. I was there for 16 or 18 months. I was on a base named Johnson Air Force Base, that the Americans captured in World War II. I spent 16 or 18 months in Japan flying B-26s.

In 1956, I was sent back to the U.S. for discharge. I enlisted in the active reserves through the 934th in St. Paul. I went to look for a job. I found work with Land O’ Lakes, Inc. They make butter and cheese. I worked over 31 years for them. When I came home from the service I married my girlfriend, Ruth Calloway, from Buffalo, Minnesota. We will be married 50 years this coming December. We have five boys and five grandchildren.

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Honoring Ralph Van Beusekom

Always Get An Education (Soldier Welcome Home)

Go for it. Give it a try
Don’t just let your life go by
Always get an education
Always set high goals
Always get an education
Soldier welcome home!
I was born in Delano
It’s a little town
The day before the stock market
Crashed to the ground
Except for cows and horses
Dad had no stock
We grew what we needed
Few things store-bought
Five brothers and sisters
Working on the farm
Thirty-six cows to milk
Horses in the barn
With a dog named Laddie
He’d bring the cows in
We would have to milk them
Before the day would end
Don’t know how it started
But the fire spread
Coming from the hay mound
To the hog shed
All of the livestock
Perished in that blaze
Big round barn burned down
Laddie was saved
When I joined the Air Force
Basic training
Aviation Cadet School
Where I got my wings
To learn navigation
To be a bombardier
Way off in Korea
I flew for many years
If you know soldiers
Fighting in Iraq
Please write them a letter
Give thanks when they come back
We have many freedoms
And democracy
I am patriotic
I love my country

Words by LARRY LONG with Ms. Martineau’s and Mr. Wenndt’s 6th grade classrooms of Earle Brown Elementary School
(Brooklyn Center, Minnesota)

© Larry Long 2006 / BMI