A WELL-KNOWN community member and veteran celebrated his 95th birthday recently.
Otto Lindstrom celebrated with friends and family at the local legion Oct. 29 at the annual legion Veterans’ Dinner – his actual birthday is Oct. 26.
And that comes after a long life filled with events, including his time in the army and the Second World War.
He spent six-and-a-half years in the army from 1937 to 1945.
“You name it. I was there,” said Lindstrom.
Lindstrom served as a mechanic in the artillery in London, Sicily, Italy, France and Holland during the Second World War.
“It was fun,” he said.
Service medals he wears include volunteer service medals, three stars for Italy and the one he’s most proud of – the medal he wears on the right side of his uniform that is from Holland.
“That’s my proudest one because it’s from a foreign country,” he said.
It’s for the liberation of Holland, which is the country he was in when the war ended.
His military career started when he was looking for a job and was told to get the job he wanted, he had to join up, so he did.
“The whole story is they were building a fort on Ridley Island and to work in the fort they said you had to be enrolled. [in the army] So I joined and went to work the next morning,” he said.
Lindstrom went to Shiloh Manitoba as a mechanic and instructor for two years and then to England for a year, also to instruct, and he also joined the First Division Artillery.
“I just got there in time to go to Sicily,” he said.
Tough days in the war include the battle in Ortona, Italy.
“It was, you can’t describe that really,” he said about how bad things were there.
During his time as forward observation for the artillery, he and the division were under fire a lot, but he was never wounded.
“I never got a mark on me,” he said, adding he credits that to having a “good boss.”
He served as a corporal all the way through the war – he was offered a promotion but didn’t want it.
“I had a chance to go up and turned it down,” he said. “If I’d gone up in rank, I would’ve had to stay in Aldershot [England] for the duration of the war and there was no way I was staying there.”
Working as a mechanic for the artillery during the war was a good job, he said.
After all his travels around the world, he doesn’t intend to leave his home in Terrace anymore.
“It’s home,” he said. “I don’t intend to go anywhere.”