Local VFW recognizes Jerry Kramer with special award

T-R PHOTO BY ROBERT MAHARRY Army veteran Jerry Kramer, left, received an appreciation award from VFW Post 839 Commander Robert Shepherd, right, on Tuesday night.

Jerry Kramer of Marshalltown knows a thing or two about service. From 1968 to 1970, he served his country after being drafted into the U.S. Army and deploying to Vietnam, and once that had ended, he became a Marshalltown police officer for almost 30 years before wrapping up his law enforcement career with a six-year stint at the Meskwaki Casino and retiring for good in 2010.

These days, it’s never hard to find him up at the local VFW post doing maintenance work or just shooting the breeze with his friends and fellow veterans, and on Tuesday night, Post 839 Commander Robert Shepherd recognized Kramer with an appreciation award at the beginning of the monthly meeting.

Kramer, who originally hails from the northeast Iowa community of Independence, said he first joined the VFW back in the 1970s, but with how busy he got at work and his schedule on the night shift, he found it hard to dedicate much of his time to it. Once he retired, however, he was able to give more of himself to the organization, and he now serves as the auditor for the post. Last week, he completed some painting on the walls and ceilings.

“Whether I’m working or not, I enjoy the camaraderie. Work is not work if you’re enjoying yourself,” Kramer said.

Unlike many Vietnam veterans, Kramer doesn’t have a horror story about returning to the U.S. He arrived in San Francisco in the middle of the night, caught connecting flights to Denver and then Waterloo, and went home to Independence without incident. He didn’t encounter any protesters along the way.

“That type of attitude toward the world just doesn’t exist in that town when I lived there. Everything was very positive,” he said. “I came back in September. The college kids were home and getting ready to go to school, and I happened to go uptown to see if I could find somebody. I walked into the bar where the college kids hung out, and I left drunk as hell and never bought any food or drinks. So I was well received.”

In addition to his work with the VFW, Kramer is also an active volunteer at Iowa River Hospice, where he’s been recognized for his efforts.

All veterans organizations are struggling to attract younger members, and Kramer encouraged anyone who qualifies to get involved. The Marshalltown post is located at 107 E. Meadow Ln.


Contact Robert Maharry at 641-753-6611 ext. 255 or rmaharry@timesrepublican.com.


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