September 12, 2022

COL Mike Kain passes away (1945-2022)

Editor's NoteWe were saddened yet again by the loss of another MOAA-Black Hills Chapter leader.  Colonel Mike Kain was a Board Member and served as Chairman of our Legislative Affairs Committee.  Mike was an active leader and willingly stepped forward to assist wherever needed. Our condolences to Charlene and the entire Kain family for their loss.  His obituary follows.

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Colonel John Michael "Mike" Kain, 77, United  States Army, Retired, of Lead, SD passed away on Friday September 9, 2022, at Monument Hospital, Rapid City, SD.  A funeral Service was held at 10:00am, Friday, September 16, 2022, at Saint Paul Lutheran Church in Spearfish, SD.  Interment followed at Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis, SD with full Military Honors being provided by the Unites States Army.  

Mike was born in Algona, Iowa on April 15, 1945, to Edward Kain and Viola (Dacken) Kain. He excelled in sports during his high school years gaining fame as an avid wrestler and football player. After his high school graduation, Mike attended South Dakota State University on a wrestling scholarship. During his senior year in college, Mike’s wrestling team won the NCC Tournament and finished 3rd in the NCAA…Go Jackrabbits! Mike also became involved in the Army ROTC program during his time at SDSU and graduated as a Distinguished Military Graduate in 1968, commissioned a 2LT of Infantry.  Mike served over 29 years as an active-duty Army Officer serving in two conflicts (Vietnam and Desert Storm).

He had numerous duty assignment during his active-duty time. Most notably was as an Assault Helicopter pilot and platoon leader with the 101st Airborne Division, Phong Din, Vietnam;  Company Commander, Company C, 1-8 Cavalry, Fort Hood, Texas; Commanding General’s Aide-De-Camp 3rd Armor Division, Federal Republic of Germany; Battalion Commander 2nd Battalion, 32nd Armor, Federal Republic of Germany; G3, 3rd Armor Division, Desert Storm; Brigade Commander 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado; Director, Center for Army Tactics, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Mike’s Culminating Assignment was Commander, Battle Command Training Program at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Upon retirement from the active Army Mike had achieved the rank of Colonel.

Mike’s military and civilian schooling included: Infantry Officers Basic Course, Rotary Wing Aviator Course, Armor Officer Advanced Course, Masters in Business Administration from Babson College, Airborne School, Ranger School, Command and General Staff College, and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.

Mike’s military awards and recognitions include: Distinguished Flying Cross, 30 Air Medals, Legion of Merit, 2 Bronze Stars, Meritorious Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Kuwait Liberation Medal, Expert Infantryman Bade, Senior Army Aviator Badge, Parachute Badge, and Ranger Tab.

Mike retired in 2013, and he and Charlene moved to Spearfish Canyon South Dakota to start their long-awaited retirement life.

Mike found peace and tranquility in Spearfish Canyon where they built their house.  He loved to fly fish, pheasant hunt, golf, tell jokes, and enjoy the friendships he and Charlene made.  If he was not fly fishing or out golfing, you could find him off roading in his UTV, hiking, feeding the deer and turkey or out riding on his Harley or Spyder. Mike was full of life and lived retirement to the fullest. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, mentor, and one of the best friends you could ever have. He had an upbeat personality and woke up each morning completely happy and ready for whatever the day had in store.

Mike was an active member of the Spearfish American Legion and Riders, the Deadwood VFW, the DAV, MOAA, the Spearfish Canyon Volunteer Fire Department, President of the Calamity Gulch Road district, and an Elder of St Paul Lutheran Church in Spearfish.

Mike is survived by his wife, Charlene (Oseby) Kain; his son Scott (Dawn); his grandchildren, Ryan, Emily (Mat), and Michael; his great-grandchildren, Owen, and Kamden; Sisters Phyllis Bierle and Beverly Plaehn (Leonard); Brother Jim (Irene); and a host of loving in-laws, nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephews, cousins, and longtime friends near and far.

Mike was preceded in death by his mother and father and brother Tom.

Arrangements were under the care of Fidler-Isburg Funeral Chapels and Isburg Crematory of Spearfish.

September 7, 2022

CWO4 Vernon McGee (1933-2022)

We are deeply saddened to report the passing of yet another of our military comrades.

CWO4 Vernon McGee of Rapid City passed away Monday, September 5, 2022.  He was 89 years old.   Vernon only recently affiliated with our Black Hills Chapter of MOAA and had attended our most recent meetings with his wife, Dr. Nancy Fay Phipps.

Vernon was born April 1, 1933 in Jackson, Mississippi to Malcom Daniel and Eula (Westerfield) McGee.  He married Dr. Nancy Phipps on November 6, 1998 in Rapid City.

Vernon is survived by his wife Nancy; daughter Cynthia (Lance) Weaver; grandchildren Michael, Lucinda and Benjamin Weaver, Anne Sewell, as well as two brothers, two sisters, and many friends and extended family.

Vernon was preceded in death by five brothers, a sister, granddaughter, parents, son, and daughter.  

Visitation for CWO4 Vernon McGee was from 5:00-7:00pm Thursday, September 8, at Osheim & Schmidt Funeral Home.  Funeral service was held on Friday, September 9 at the Osheim & Schmidt Funeral Home, 2700 Jackson Blvd. in Rapid City.  

Graveside service and burial with full military honors were conducted on Friday, September 9, at the Black Hills National Cemetery, 20901 Pleasant Valley Drive, Sturgis, South Dakota.

September 1, 2022

Goodwin Elected Black Hills Chapter President

Retired Army
Lieutenant Colonel Tim Goodwin (shown at left) has been elected new President of the MOAA Black Hills Chapter.  He replaces Commander Larry Miller, who earlier announced that he would be stepping down at the Annual Meeting.  Miller has served as President since April of 2019.  The election took place at the BHC Annual Meeting on Friday, August 19 at the Rushmore Hotel & Suites.

Most recently, Colonel Goodwin was in the South Dakota Legislature, serving as Majority Whip in the House of Representatives.  He represented Pennington, Custer, and Fall River Counties.

All of the other incumbent chapter officers were re-elected.  They include Vice-President CAPT Roger Whorton, Secretary LCDR Bonnie Walker, and Treasurer COL Robert Mallow.  All will serve another two-year term, per the existing bylaws.
Brief annual reports were also presented to the membership from the Membership and Legislative Committees, as well as summary reports from the President, Secretary, and Treasurer.  More details will be forthcoming.

Following his volunteering to facilitate an ad hoc Bylaws Committee, COL Ashok Kumar was appointed by President Miller to chair that committee, which has already begun working on reviewing and revising, as necessary, the current bylaws, which were adopted in 2010.  Kumar also serves as Co-Chairman of the Membership Committee.  

The next Black Hills Chapter meeting will be an 11:30 luncheon meeting on Friday, October 14 at the Rushmore Hotel & Suites in Rapid City

 


July 27, 2022

Editor's Note:  Another long-time member and Past President of our MOAA Black Hills Chapter has passed away.  Below is the obituary for Colonel Dennis "Denny" York as it has appeared on the Osheim & Schmidt Funeral Home website.  Colonel York Our condolences to the entire York family.  Please note the highlighted area below regarding Visitation, Celebration of Life and Burial for Colonel York. 

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Colonel (Ret.) Dennis ‘Denny’ Jean York passed away on July 23, 2022 in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Visitation will start at 10 am on Thursday, August 4th at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, Lead, South Dakota. Celebration of Life Service following at 11 am. Lunch will be served after the service.  Burial with full military honors will take place at Black Hills National Cemetery, Sturgis, SD at 2:00 pm.

Denny was born February 28, 1937 in Sioux Falls, SD to Jean F. and Leona E. (Tilbury) York. He grew up in Sioux Falls and graduated from Washington High School. 

He graduated from South Dakota State College in Brookings, SD with an Electrical Engineering degree. While at State, he played football, wrestled, and was commissioned a 2nd Lt. through the ROTC program. He married Beverly D. Ordal in 1958. He was a career army officer. During his service, he graduated from the University of Florida with a Masters of Civil Engineering.  He attended the U.S. Naval War College, Industrial War College, Georgia State University in Management, and numerous Army Special Weapons and Engineering schools. He was a member of Tau Beta Pi. His military awards included three awards of the Legion of Merit, five awards of the Bronze Star, three Air Medals, and numerous other commendation service medals.  

He commanded and served in engineer combat and construction units in Vietnam and Germany during nine years of overseas service. Denny was the Vicksburg, MS District Commander in the 1980’s responsible for Corps of Engineers Civil Works in most of Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana. While not with his troops, he taught ROTC at the University of Rhode Island, conducted a reduction of engineer officers after Vietnam, and was a protocol officer for the Army Chief of Staff and the Secretary of the Army. He was the Executive Director for Civil Works out of Washington DC, for the Corps of Engineers when he retired in December 1986.  

Upon retirement from the Army, initial plans were changed due to health. Denny and Bev bought the Ponderosa Motor Lodge in Lead, SD, operating it as a family venture. While Bev and son, David, orchestrated the Lodge, Denny served as City Commissioner and Mayor of Lead two terms. He also served on various boards over the past years including Lead-Deadwood Chamber of Commerce, Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, Municipal League, Salvation Army, Black Hills Boy Scout Council, Lawrence County Teen Court, Terry Trojan Water District, and the Lead-Deadwood Sanitation District. He was a member of the VFW, American Legion, Golden Gang, Eagles, Kiwanis, SD Service Academy Nomination Committee, and the Military Officers of America Association. 

During Denny’s lifetime, he dedicated and advocated for his country, his communities, his alma maters, his God, and his family.  His life was to generously and sincerely serve others! A very patriotic man, he never hesitated to show his pride to serve his county and to support any person in uniform.  He and Bev immersed their family in every community in which they lived.  Home truly was where the family was at any given time.  Along the way, they created lifelong friendships. A huge supporter and fan of SDSU, Denny enjoyed attending activities and watch parties.  His faith and church family were very important to him. His life revolved around his love of family, supporting and connecting with them at any opportunity that he could.  He was very proud of his family.

He was preceded in death by his mother, father, sister, Juanita Class, son, Douglas Todd York, grandchild, Karah Ann Odegaard, and grandchild, Grace Michelle Kainz, and his wife Beverly Deane (Ordal) York. Denny is survived by a nephew, Jeff Class (Deb) and niece, Debbie Smith. He has four children including daughter DeVee and Kevin Dietz (Sturgis, SD), daughter Juli and Joseph Odegaard (Rapid City, SD), son David York (Waseca, MN), and daughter Amy and Dan Kainz (Eagan, MN).  As a proud grandpa, he leaves behind 9 grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren – with 5 more on the way!

June 10, 2022

Richard "Dick" Trankle (1936-2022)

(Editor's NoteOur friend and colleague, Richard "Dick" Trankle, was a Life Member of the Military Officers Association of America and a highly regarded Past President of the Black Hills Chapter of MOAA.  Our sincere condolences go out to the entire Trankle family.  We are all the better for having known this remarkable man.  Following is the text of his obituary as posted on the Osheim and Schmidt Funeral Home website.)
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One June 6, 2022 the world lost a giant and Heaven gained an angel.

Richard "Dick" Arthur Trankle was the eldest of John and Eva Trankle's four children, born June 14, 1936 in Rapid City and raised in Johnson Siding, SD.  Growing up on the farm, Richard was raised with a strong work ethic and sense of responsibility, unwavering commitment to his family, and an appreciation for all of life's joys large and small (including well-timed practical jokes), all of which remained hallmarks of his character throughout his life.  He graduated from Rapid City Stevens High School with the class of 1955 as a proud member of the Good Ol' Boyz car club.  Richard and his beautiful bride of 62 years, Betty Granaas, began their married life together February 14, 1960, before welcoming a son (Kenneth Dean Trankle) and daughter (Karla Kay West).

Although his children and grandchildren were his greatest joys, his  point of personal pride set in his 42 years of service to the South Dakota Army National Guard (SDARNG).  Over the first 25 years of his career, Richard served the U.S. Property & Fiscal Office, South Dakota Emergency and Disaster Service, and South Dakota Department of Transportation and Highways.  In 1974, Richard was appointed as the state Command Sergeant Major for the SDARNG, serving until his appointment to Warrant Officer in 1985.  Richard was honored with many awards and decorations during his military career, including the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal with three bronze oak leaf clusters, and the Army Commendation Medal with four oak leaf clusters.  After retiring from the U.S. Army as a Chief Warrant Officer Four on June 14, 1996, Richard reentered public service as a Special Projects Officer for the state.

Of special note in Richard's service to others was the instrumental role he held in the week following the 1972 Rapid City flood.  Within minutes of the floods beginning, Richard was selected by state leadership as the civil defense coordinator, where he led the rescue, recovery, and rebuilding efforts.

Throughout his civilian and military career, Richard – a life-long learner – pursued many continuing education programs, including Explosive Ordnance Reconnaissance, U.S. Corps of Engineers Flood Water Studies, DoD Contract Law, Advanced Warrant Officer School, as well as numerous others.

Richard's life of service extended beyond his professional career with service on various committees, boards, and organizations, including lifetime membership in Disabled American Veterans, Yelduz Shrine, S.D. Civil Preparedness Association, National Search and Rescue Association, the Military Officers Association of America, and many others.

Those who knew Richard knew his personality extended far beyond his illustrious career and commendations.  He was an avid reader with a particular fondness for historical fiction and action mysteries.  He looked forward to coffee with his friends and "Sunday Night–Pizza Night" with Betty.  He insisted peanut butter went well with everything, always asked if "rattlesnake or alligator" were on the menu, appreciated a good scotch, and could spend hours watching Gunsmoke reruns.

Richard was met in Heaven by his parents, brother Ronald Keith, and sister Barbara Ann; his memory lives on in those who survive him, including his daughter Karla (and Wally) West, son Ken (and Jill) Trankle, granddaughter Courtney West, grandson Brandon West, brother Raymond (and Kathy) Trankle, a large family of great-grandchildren (Chayton, Lexi, and Kiara), cousins, nieces, and nephews, and all those who were lucky enough to cross his path.

Richard lived every day of his life in devoted service to God, his family, the State of South Dakota, and the United States of America.  He was an incredible man.  We miss him deeply and are forever grateful to have known him.

Dick's Funeral Service was Friday, June 10, 2022 at Osheim & Schmidt Funeral Home in Rapid City.  Burial was at 1:30 that afternoon at the Blak Hills National Cemetery with full military honors rendered by the South Dakota Army National Guard and VFW Post 1273.

A memorial was be established in Dick's memory to the Shriners Hospitals for Children.

May 24, 2022

News Release from Senator Mike Rounds:

Rounds and Manchin Reintroduce Bipartisan Bill to Eliminate the VA AIR Commission

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) reintroduced the Elimination of the VA Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Commission Act, which would eliminate the commission that is tasked with finding facilities that should be consolidated or realigned.

“The VA MISSION Act and its BRAC-style process called the AIR Commission were bad public policy when I voted against them in 2018, and they have not improved with age,” said Rounds. “This legislation threatens to close or eliminate services at VA facilities across South Dakota and the nation. The AIR Commission should be called the ERROR Commission. Senator Manchin and I first introduced common sense legislation to eliminate this commission in 2019. Now that the consequences of the VA MISSION Act are being widely experienced, more members are joining our efforts to stop it. I will continue working to make certain veterans in South Dakota receive the care they have earned.”

“Our Veterans have put their lives on the line to protect our nation and deserve easy access to the healthcare they have earned,” said Manchin. “The VA’s recommendations to the AIR Commission are skewed against rural states like West Virginia, which would see a reduction in services at three of our four VA Medical Centers (VAMCs). I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to ensure our brave Veterans don’t lose access to the healthcare they earned and sacrificed for and I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join this critical legislation.”

Rounds and Manchin were joined by Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.).

Background:

  • In 2018, Congress passed the Asset and Infrastructure Review Act as part of the VA MISSION Act.
  • Rounds and Manchin introduced legislation in 2019, which would have eliminated the AIR Commission.
  • The VA MISSION Act established a new process for the development, review, approval and implementation of a list of recommendations for the modernization and realignment of VHA medical facilities. The VA MISSION Act requires the VA Secretary to develop an initial list of recommendations, including the acquisition of new space, the modernization of existing space and the disposal of unneeded space. The Secretary was required to publish these recommendations in the Federal Register by January 31, 2022.
  • The VA MISSION Act also established an AIR Commission, a panel comprised of nine members nominated by the president and approved by the Senate, which is meant to review the recommendations submitted by the VA Secretary.
  • However, the panel does not yet exist as all of the nominees have yet to be assessed by the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and voted on by the full Senate.
  • Once it is stood up and receives the department’s recommendations, the commission will conduct its own hearings and investigations, make its own recommendations and send the recommendations to the White House.
  • The AIR Commission is required to submit a final list of recommendations to the president by January 31, 2023.
  • President Biden is to notify the commission and Congress if he approves or disapproves the list by February 15, 2023. If disapproved, the commission may revise the recommendations and submit a new list by March 15, 2023.
  • The president has until March 30, 2023, to approve the commission’s initial or revised recommendations in their entirety and submit them to Congress, or the modernization and realignment process terminates.
  • If the president approves the recommendations, Congress has 45 days from the date of approval to terminate the process by enacting a joint resolution of disapproval. If Congress does not enact a joint resolution of disapproval, the VA is required to implement the recommendations.

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