Pierson IA - World War I Memorial

Point of Interest in Pierson IA

PIERSON, Iowa -- Little Pierson, population 353, showed determination this week in rededicating its World War I memorial, one of 100 across the country chosen for a program sponsored by the Pritzker Military Museum and Library in Chicago to commemorate 100 memorials during the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

The 12-foot tall granite obelisk capped with the globe and an eagle cost $4,000 to build a century ago, no easy feat.

With help from the Pritzker Museum, members of the American Legion Post 291 of Pierson joined with locals and, in receiving a $15,000 grant from Missouri River Historical Development, set to upgrade the memorial site on Main Street, work which has been largely completed in advance of the upcoming 100th anniversary of the end of "The Great War," on Veteran's Day, Nov. 11, next month.

U.S. Army Sgt. (Retired) Chris Weinreich, past commander and current adjutant serving Post 291, directed a program on Saturday at Kingsley-Pierson Middle School that detailed how 95 young men from Pierson served their country in World War I, three of whom gave the ultimate sacrifice. Family members of two of those "Gold Star" veterans -- Clinton E. Dentlinger and Charles E. Law -- were present to accept "Gold Star" banners.

Bonnie Saxen, of Pierson, came forward for her friend Dixie Soligo, of Austin, Texas, whose great uncle, Harrison F. Pedersen, was killed in July 1918 in France. The local American Legion bears his name.

That wouldn't be the last young men Soligo's family would lose in time of war, Weinreich said. Both of Soligo's brothers, Kelly Petersen and Mark Petersen, died while serving during the Vietnam War. I reached Soligo at her home in Austin to visit about her family's duty and sacrifice for our country.

Kelly Petersen, 20, died June 23, 1967 in an auto accident at New Lisbon, Wisconsin, while on duty with the 185th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Iowa Air National Guard.

U.S. Marine Cpl. Mark Petersen, who was serving in Vietnam at the time of his brother's death, came home for Kelly's funeral, an occasion Dixie recalled only for the way in which her family learned of his death. "When Kelly died, I remember funeral director Herb Michaelson came to our house in Pierson and Mom immediately thought it was Mark (who had died)," she said.

As the lone-surviving son of Carson and Dorothy (Pedersen) Petersen, Dixie, who was 15 at the time, didn't believe Mark had to return to Vietnam.

"He could have stayed home as sole-surviving son, but he chose to go back to Vietnam as he only had six months left in the service," Dixie said. "Plus, he said he needed to go back to be with his platoon."

Mark Petersen, 23, was killed by rifle fire in action at Quang Nam, Vietnam, on Nov. 19, 1967, four months after his return overseas.

The Petersen brothers were buried adjacent to one another at Pierson's Greenwood Cemetery. Sister Dixie said her mother and father, who died in 2005 and 2010, respectively, were buried next to their sons.

"My dad served in World War II and I only remember him saying he was in the artillery," said Dixie of her father, who farmed and then drove truck. "Ironically, Mark never talked much about it either."


Carson Petersen served in the U.S. Army from 1942 through late 1945. He earned a Purple Heart and didn't meet his oldest child, Mark, until one day before Mark celebrated his first birthday. Father met and held son for the first time on Oct. 15, 1945, upon Dad's honorable discharge from service in World War II.

Their sacrifices, and that of Kelly Petersen, Harrison Pedersen, the hundreds of others from tiny Pierson and throughout Siouxland and the nation, are remembered, especially around Memorial Day and Veteran's Day, the 100th anniversary of which approaches in less than three weeks.

The rededicated World War I obelisk on Main Street in Pierson stopped visitors on a sun-splashed Saturday, causing men such as David Law and Dennis Van Zee to share stories about service, sacrifice and the freedoms we enjoy due, in part, to the names that will soon be illuminated, one of 100 memorials to receive special attention 100 years after the fact.

Dixie Soligo is grateful for the efforts nationally and those shown in her hometown, a place she left 44 years ago, a place that remains forever attached to her heart.

"When Mark was killed, it was Marines officers who came to the house," she said. "I know it was devastating. My mom was so soft-hearted; Dad probably had a tougher time showing that sadness. For me, though, I think my parents had to keep going. They had to for me, their last-surviving child."

Map and Info
Pierson IA - World War I Memorial

Woodbury County IA

Woodbury County IA

Visit our county page and you will find information about our town and county's points of interest, festivals/events and faith community. You also will find stories about the contributions made by farmers/ranchers located throughout our county and of course you will learn about the community organizations that have built and continue to build strong communities (chambers, community groups, and departments, etc) and much more when you visit the Woodbury County IA page.