Russ Bandle, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, visited the Dunn County Veterans Memorial on Nov. 10. His name is on the wall, as is eight relatives. (Photo by Bryan Gallegos)
BY BRYAN GALLEGOS
Dunn County Herald
When Russ Bandle was a senior at Killdeer High School, he wanted to see the world. He loved his hometown, but he wanted to experience life outside Dunn County.
And to do so, he followed a long family tradition – Bandle joined the military.
On Nov. 10, Bandle spent a few quiet moments remembering his family. The sun was warm on his face as he knelt to see the names of his relatives on the Dunn County Veterans Memorial at the High Plains Cultural Center.
He ran his fingers over the engraved names of his family. Including his own, there were eight names. He smiled a crooked smile.
“They’re all here,” he said.
In 1975, and just out of high school, Bandle enlisted in the U.S. Navy. Just like his brother, Christie.
The Bangle boys, however, kind of broke family ranks. Theirs was an Army family.
Bandle’s dad was an Army man. So was his grandfather. And a great uncle. And so were four uncles.
It really didn’t matter, though. Regardless of branch, you’re all in the same family, Bandle said with a chuckle.
“It was a tradition,” he said. “It was something I wanted to do.”
It was a rich tradition, too.
Bandle’s grandfather on his mom’s side, Arthur J. Brandvick, served in World War I. So did Bandle’s great uncle, Morris A. Brandvick, who was killed in combat.
Bandle’s dad, Walter, served in WWII, as did uncles, Arthur R. Brandvick, and Morris E. Brandvick. Uncle Michael Brandvick served during the Korean Conflict. Bandle doesn’t recall if his uncle Michael Brandvick saw action while he was in the Army.
His brother saw action in Vietnam while he was in the Navy.
Bandle, however, didn’t get any pressure from his family to join, he said.
“They really didn’t talk about their experiences,” he said. “Dad just said, ‘do what you have to do.’ “
It didn’t take him long to make that decision. He became a sailor and served four years for Uncle Sam. He was stationed in Hawaii.
After his hitch was up, he returned to the mainland and lived in Montana for years, before returning to Killdeer to be closer to family.
He lives a few blocks from the monument. He’s visits it periodically, looking at all the names and thinking about the things they all have in common.
“It’s pretty impressive,” Bandle said quietly, almost in a whisper.
He looked away for a second. His lips tightened for another second.
“I don’t know how to explain it. It’s just … “ Bandle said, his voice tapered off to nothing.