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Terry Bloomquist rides with the Patriot Guard motorcycle escort for a World War II veteran. Contributed Photo

Terry Bloomquist, 67, was drafted, courtesy of Richard Nixon in 1970. The lifelong Cloquet native took a detour into the U.S. Army, ending up at Fort Knox for basic training. He became a Unit First Sergeant with the military police.

He was originally ordered to deploy to Vietnam, but his orders changed and he went to the island of Okinawa, Japan, which was a United States territory until 1973.

“You were all young, you were all scared because you had been drafted,” Bloomquist said. “There was only one place to end up and that was Vietnam.”

He served in traffic security, as escort and in the stockades as a guard in Okinawa instead.  

He was at the infamous riots of Koza in 1970 as a show of force and to help protect military property.

“It was pretty scary at the time,” Bloomquist said.

After his two years of active duty were over, Bloomquist joined the National Guard, where he stayed until he retired after 20 years.

During his time in the Guard, he helped fight forest fires and was at the Hormel strike in Austin, Minn.

Bloomquist had a family history of military, his father and several uncles served during WWII.

Bloomquist was inspired by his uncle Elden Wolf, who was shot in Normandy on D-Day. His uncle was a member of the Minnesota Patriot Guard and at his funeral 20 members showed up at Camp Ripley to stand with flags in hand in the freezing rain.

Bloomquist was impressed and has been a rider with the Patriot Guard for six years.

The riders only attend the funerals if they are invited by the family. Bloomquist has attended many funerals with the riders over the years, including law enforcement who have been killed in the line of duty.

Three years ago there were six unclaimed veterans from the Duluth and Superior area who had already been cremated and in storage at different funeral homes. A friend of one of the deceased veterans discovered he died and set up a communal burial for them.

The veterans were laid to rest at Greenwood Cemetery in Superior on the deer hunting opener and 70 riders showed up.

“I was so impressed with that, that so many people would take time out of their day for somebody they don’t even know and stand in honor of them,” said Bloomquist. “Of all of the things I have done, this is the most satisfying.”

New members are welcome and need not be a veteran or even ride a motorcycle.