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A retired Menomonie veterinarian and Korean War veteran is featured in a National Guard exhibit in Stillwater, Minn.

Jack W. Register of Menomonie will be part of a permanent exhibit at the new Army National Guard Readiness Center in Stillwater, Minnesota.

Register grew up in Stillwater and signed up with its Heavy Mortar Company while still in high school.

“I joined the Guard in 1948 to play basketball,” Register said. “They had a pretty good team. I was only 17 and needed a parent signature.”

Register’s father would not sign the paperwork, so he got his mother to do the deed, he said.

“I told her not to worry because World War II had just ended. But she warned me, ‘You’ll be sorry.’ Two years later they activated the National Guard,” Register said. “She was a lot more right than me.”

The Cold War of 1948 turned hot in June 1950 when communist North Korea suddenly invaded South Korea. In November, the north’s powerful ally “Red China” entered the fray. The Minnesota-based 47th “Viking” Infantry Division was activated the following month—Register was then a sophomore at the University of Minnesota—and whisked off to Camp Rucker, Ala., where it became a training and replacement division.

The Army transferred Register out of the 47th Division in October 1951 and shipped him to Korea, where he was reassigned to the Fifteenth Infantry Regiment of the Third Infantry Division.

“That was Audie Murphy’s old outfit,” Register said. “It was the first thing I was told when I arrived.”

Due to his previous mortar training while in the Guard, he was put into the regiment’s Heavy Mortar Company.

From then on, he was never far from the front lines, working mostly in the fire direction center or as a forward observer north of the 38th Parallel in the Chorwon-Kumwha sector that included a hotly-contested, strategically important high hill called “Old Baldy.”

By the time Register rotated back to the U.S. in September 1952 he was a Sergeant First Class.

“I had many close calls,” Register said, “but the good Lord was watching over me.”

After Korea, Register returned to Stillwater and used the GI Bill to complete his university education. He became a veterinarian and moved to Menomonie in 1957, where he made a career, raised a family, rooted for the Packers and retired.

The Minnesota exhibit covers the history of the National Guard in Stillwater from its pre-Civil War militia days to the present-day conflicts in the Middle East.

Short biographies of local veterans are interspersed with the narrative timeline.

“We are proud to include the story of men like Jack Register,” said Jack Johnson, coordinator for the on-going armory history project. “The Korean War is sometimes referred to as the ‘forgotten war’ because it didn’t end conclusively and was overshadowed by World War II and Vietnam, but those who fought in it are every bit as deserving of our remembrance and thanks. They served their country, did their duty, and did it well.”

The new armory, located at 350 Maryknoll Dr. N., Stillwater is open to the public.

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