Olson-Grinde Post 348 of the American Legion has a new Commander. Dick Snortum was sworn in back in July.
“It was not on my radar scope to be commander,” admits Snortum.
Snortum said outgoing Commander Bill Ridgely asked him to seriously consider it a couple of years ago.
“I was reluctant because I thought there were other members who were more worthy than I was, but nobody raised their hand,” said Snortum, who begins a two-year term in office at the DeForest-Windsor area post.
Snortum dropped out of college in 1967 to join the U.S. Army. He started out in the armor crew and was supposed to go to officer candidate school, but found out later, that a four-year degree was necessary to attend.
After staying on another eight months, Snortum re-enlisted and was sent to the Minneapolis, Minnesota area to work with nuclear missiles. Snortum is originally from Marshall, Minnesota. The SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks) agreements in the 1970s led to the closure of bases where he was stationed.
Over a military career that last four years and eight months, Snortum also spent time in Virginia, staying six months at Fort Story. Snortum said he never saw combat, remaining stateside during the Vietnam War.
“We played Cold War games,” said Snortum.
After leaving the military, Snortum, who got married in 1972, went back to school at Normandale Community College in the Twin Cities. It was different for him this time around.
“The original reason I left school was that I was getting straight A’s socially, but not academically,” said Snortum, with a laugh.
Snortum said that when he returned to college, he got straight A’s in his schoolwork.
Snortum later signed on to work for the Federal Aviation Administration as an air traffic controller, arriving in DeForest in 1979. Snortum said he and his family were working their way back toward the Twin Cities, but they ended up staying in the area.
About six years ago, Snortum said he was just a dues-paying member of the Olson-Grinde Post 348 American Legion post, but he decided to become more involved.
“I figured, why be a member if I’m not going to be active?” said Snortum.
So, he began attending meetings and taking more of an interest. For three years, he served as the post’s chaplain. Then came Ridgley’s request.
“I’m blessed to have been proceeded by Bill,” said Snortum.
Snortum said the post is full of positive people. It has around 100 members, with between 20 and 25 percent who “are always there putting their hearts and souls into it.”
Being a part of the Honor Guard is also important to Snortum. He first was part of one in the Twin Cities during a burial for Vietnam veterans.
“It’s always stuck with me,” said Snortum. “It’s the most humbling and honorable thing you can do.”
Snortum said that’s needed for a post to be successful in its mission. As for his plans as Commander, Snortum isn’t looking to change things. He’s simply looking to maintain the quality of service the organization has already achieved. And when the group decides it wants to go in a particular direction, Snortum wants to be there to help push it along.
“I’ll be a worker bee and put my heart and soul into it,” said Snortum.