A veteran’s story: Paul Sorenson
Paul Sorenson, Army Specialist E4, was drafted into the Army, September 1966 and served until September 1968.
A lifelong native of this area, Sorenson was stationed at Fort Hood, Killeen, Texas.
“I had basic training there and then went to Fort Knox (Kentucky)for some mechanic training,” said Sorenson. “I was a mechanic and went to tank school, but never worked on a tank—just infantry vehicles and personnel carriers, mainly.”
Sorenson had two uncles in the service (his dad’s brothers)—one in the Air Force during WWII who he believes never left the states, and the other was a Marine stationed in the South Pacific who saw combat.
“We thought we were going to Vietnam, but we never did go. The outfit we were in had guys that returned from Vietnam with service time left, so they finished up their time with us.”
“It was a learning experience. I was in a motor pool for a little bit, but without much rank. One very memorable thing was when we went to Chcago, Ill. to the Democratic National Convention in ‘68 with all the riots. We flew in there and they took us out to Navy Pier, and there were a few thousand troops there, but we were never really on the streets. (They were there in case they were needed.) Then the riots kind of settled down after that.”
He continued, saying that on their flight back, they had to circle around for a long time, because President Lyndon Johnson was flying in to Austin, Texas, and that’s where they were going to land. Because of that, his plane couldn’t land until Johnson was safely on the ground and driven away.
“One thing I can remember, and that was, we were told, that when we came back for leave, not to wear our uniforms, because it could mean trouble. So we wore civilian clothes.”
Sorenson and (at that time) his future wife, Mary (Martinson) attended school together, until her junior year when she finished up high school in Emmons, Minn.
“We double dated, but not with each other at that time. But the last time I came home on leave, we kind of hooked up and have been together ever since.” They were married Feb. 22, 1969, on Paul’s birthday. “I’ve never forgotten an anniversary,” he chuckled.
Before Sorenson left for the Army, he had a job at the Coop gas station in town and when he returned, he went back to work there until 1973.
In February 1973, Marlo Durby said “Why don’t you become a telephone man (I worked with him on the Fire Dept.). I said, I don’t know anything about that. He said, why don’t you come in and talk to Glen, and Glen said, don’t worry, Marlo will teach you what you need to know. So, I worked with Lake Mills Telephone for 10 years and then went to the Coop again after that.” Sorenson retired in 2011.
Mary worked at Lake Mills High School as the secretary for 26 years. The Sorensons have two adult sons, Todd and Tony—both of whom live in Lake Mills. The couple also have three grandkids and one great-grandchild.
As for hobbies, Sorenson has enjoyed fishing up North and in Canada.
He also really enjoys being a member of the Honor Guard for Otto Chose Post #235. He marches in area parades and assists with military funerals of deceased members. He is also in charge of membership for the American Legion.
“I was very proud to have been in the service. I have a little bit of guilt that I never had to go to Vietnam. But, I always felt that the Lord didn’t want me to go for some reason. I had a little guilt that these other guys had to go through hell and I didn’t. But those that did come back from Vietnam, didn’t seem to harbor any resentment towards those of us who didn’t.”