Steve Hakala

Steve Hakala

Steve Hakala joined the Army at age XX. He bravely crawled through the trenches of many difficult campaigns as an infantryman – by way of the gritty coalmines back home. “It was 1936 and the depression was going on,” he said. “The coalmine shut down and I wanted a meal – so I enlisted.” Little did he know that he’d rise to such great heights on the battlefield – and ultimately earn three prestigious combat infantryman’s badges. This admirable distinction is rare. Only one other resident here has earned it three times. Hakala’s unit was called the Bushmasters – the only jungle troops in the Philippines.

“I was in-and-out, with broken service. But I re-enlisted in the Korean War ... and again in Vietnam.” When asked why he repeatedly came back, Hakala shot back: “I loved it!” At age 80, Steve seems a much younger man. He stays active and enjoys competitive bowling and friendly beers with his comrades each Thursday. “These are my buddies. And I’m in my element here, around service people.” Well, as they say, once a solider always a soldier.