Sterling resident Virgil O. Dahler died Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2001. He was 82.
A memorial service will be held Friday at 2 p.m. at the Sterling Senior Center.
Mr. Dahler was born Jan. 28, 1919, in Black Hammer Township near Spring Grove, Minn., to Knute and Maria (Karlsbraaten) Dahler. He was baptized and confirmed at Faith Lutheran Church in Black Hammer, Minn. He came to Alaska in 1939 and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1941. He served in the Battle of Iwo Jima and in the Aleutians on Attu Island. He achieved the rank of Master Sargent and received the Bronze Star, Asiatic-Pacific Service Ribbon and Good Conduct Medal.
After being discharged, he returned to Alaska with childhood friend (Big) Jim Bergsrud and homesteaded near Soldotna. Jim Dahler road was named after them. Mr. Dahler lived in a tent for the first winter and melted snow for his water. He had to walk 16 miles one way to get groceries, as there were no roads. When roads were built he was one of the first homesteaders to have a car. Mr. Dahler worked as a bulldozer operator, taking jobs on the construction of the Bethel air field, clearing the Seward Highway over Turnagain Pass and the Anchorage International Airport. He also used his own D-6 Caterpillar in the Swanson River fire and on numerous jobs in the community.
Through the years, Mr. Dahler enjoyed flying his Supercub and took his first solo flight in August 1951. He had his own airstrip so he and his canine sidekick, Goldie, could go flying whenever the mood struck. He could be found most often in coveralls working on one of the many cars he collected as well as miscellaneous tractors. He was an avid gardener and enjoyed hunting and fishing. He could also turn a time or two around the dance floor and was well versed in the polka, schottische and waltz. He touched many lives and as one young person mentioned, you could still see the twinkle of youthful mischief in his blue eyes even at 82.
He was preceded in death by his parents and two brothers, Ernest Dahler of Umatilla, Ore., and Carlin Dahler of LaCrosse, Wis. He is survived by brother and sister-in-law Melbourne and Norma Dahler of Spring Grove, Minn.; sister, Connie Dahler of Spring Grove, Minn.; nephews, Manley and Don Dahler of Minnesota; niece, Maxine Mullenbach of Minnesota; and seven great-nieces and nephews.
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