Brothers in arms, decades later

Published 9:45 am Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Stan Kindler (left) of Redwood Falls and Joseph Rysavy of Blooming Prairie meet for the first time in Redwood Falls. Both men were part of the 2nd Marines Division and fought in Saipan during World War II. -- Photo provided by Phil Drietz

Though Joe Rysavy of Blooming Prairie shared many similar experiences with fellow World War II veteran Stan Kindler, the two had never met until two weekends ago.

On Saturday April 28, Rysavy and his family went from Blooming Prairie to meet Kindler and his family in Redwood Falls, Minn. The families introduced themselves, talked and took pictures together.

“It was really neat,” said Rysavy’s daughter Joanne Newman. “We were very blessed to have met their families and shared stories.”

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Both men were part of the 2nd Marine Division. The Sherman tank on display in Lakeside Park is similar to what Rysavy rode in as a crewman. He was a tank radio man attached to the 2nd Tank Battalion, ‘A’ Company. Kindler was part of the 8th Regiment, 2nd Service Battalion, Ordinance Company.

“Your dad probably saved our dad’s life,” Kindler’s family said during the meeting, according to Newman.

Both men fought in the same three battles: Tarawa, Saipan and Tinian. Kindler remembers the ‘Colorado,’ one of the few tanks still running after the three-day Tarawa battle.

Rysavy’s son, also named Joseph, said hearing the men share stories was interesting and important.

“All of those stories will someday be gone” if no one shares them or keeps a record, he said. His father was in his early to mid 20s during the war.

Newman said in some ways she saw a different side of her father, and so it was a new experience for her, also. He used to talk about his time in the war somewhat around her, “but not in the detail that he told there.”

Their stories compared old memories from the war. Joseph said they enjoyed comparing the details like how they’d transport their drinking water.

Though the men never met, they could have run across one another.

“My dad was there, and maybe two months later, Stan was there, also,” Newman said. “It was really interesting.”

Rysavy received the Saipan Medallion for his role as a Marine in World War II. Phil Drietz, who was interviewing Kindler for the Redwood Falls Gazette, noticed Rysavy fought in nearly the same part of Saipan and got the two in touch with one another. Soon after, they and their families decided to meet.

“I think we’re going to get together again,” Newman said.

Rysavy was close friends with Frances Walters, who he met during the war, for a long time following their return to the U.S. Walters passed away recently, but Joseph said connecting with Kindler was a similar experience for Rysavy.

“They talked a lot about remembering things, like Dad and Walt used to,” Joseph said.