The Iron Range Veteran’s Digital Memorial is a place to honor the service of veterans from communities along Minnesota’s Mesabi Range. This memorial is more than just a standing monument. This memorial is an online database that contains the service records of veterans from the Civil War through the Persian Gulf War. This memorial exists to show that Mesabi Range provided more than just iron ore, but also soldiers.
Minnesota’s Mesabi’s Range is remembered for its mining. These Rangers supplied the majority of the iron for WWI and WWII. Some even claim that we, the United States of America, would not have been victorious in World War II without the rich ore deposits found here. Over 33 million tons of iron ore was mined in 1939, before America was even engaged in the war.
However, the Iron Range, as locals often refer to it for obvious reasons, has supplied soldiers for every major conflict since the American Civil War. These wars include, but are not limited to, the Cold War, Desert Storm, Korea, The Spanish-American War, Vietnam, World War I, and World War II.
Pvt. Hiram J. Eaton served during the Civil War, and the Virginia, MN native fought at the Battle of Bull Run. Pvt. Eaton was injured during the Second Battle of Bull Run. The U.S. senate chambers had been set up to be a temporary hospital for injured soldiers such as Pvt. Eaton. While he laid there, recuperating, he had the privilege of meeting President Abraham Lincoln.
Over 100 years later, and just over 20 miles away, Cpl. Ronald Tod Novak proved that the Mesabi range would still be ready to defend the United States of America. Throughout these years, the people of the Mesabi Range continue to serve their country. Nearly 2,000 veterans records have been stored in the Iron Range Veteran’s Digital Memorial.
Many of these veterans have family in the area. One veteran who has a large family in the area is Paul Edward Marturano, Sr. He was a private in the army during World War II. Stationed in Frankfurt, Germany, Pvt. Marturano was a member of the railway security. Some of his family lives in Chisholm, MN. His relatives are active in the community, owning a family restaurant while also being members of different community organizations. They do hold their ancestry in high regard, and would make the Private proud.
Another Chisholm native is Henry P. Brusacoram. Henry Brusuacoram joined the Civilian Conservation Corps. right after highschool, and joined the Navy on July 1st 1943. Brusuacoram recalls joining the Navy and seeing the whole world. He has been stationed in the Philippines, China, and even Bikini Atoll where the atomic bomb was tested.
Brusacoram, just like any Iron Range veteran, was more than just a soldier. Brusacoram picked up boxing while he was in the Navy. He had the experience of a lifetime, boxing a current light heavyweight champion. He found passion here, and continued to learn how to fight. He earned a Brown Belt in Judo, and began teaching Marine policeman.
He found his true passion instructing others. He continued serving this country, becoming a lieutenant colonel. Lt. Col. Brusacoram became the company commander of the Hibbing National Guard. He proudly remembers how his unit was the first unit in Northern Minnesota to receive a Superior Rating.
The standing memorial was dedicated in 2000 at the Minnesota Discover Center in Chisholm, MN. The physical memorial consists of three bold flags being presented—United States of America, Minnesota, and POW/MIA. Behind these three flags stand flags representing Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Merchant Marine, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Navy, and Public Health Services, all the branches served by the Rangers. There is also a helicopter and tank flanking either side of the memorial. There is also a fighter jet and ship anchor located at the memorial.
The anchor is the newest item added to the memorial site, which seems to be ever-growing. The anchor is 14.5 feet tall, and weighs over 11 tons. It once called the USN Mount Baker its home, but now rests on the grassy hillside surrounded by replica ammunition. It traveled from the warmth of Texas to the cold, frozen North.
The online database was formally established in 2015. However, the local VFW, Press-Lloyd Post #247 American Legion, operated the database before this time. The VFW maintained this website voluntarily for years before the Minnesota Discovery Center reached out to assist them with the responsibility.
The online database is ever-growing. There are many archivists working to keep the website up to date. There are plans to include more recent records. Many Iron Rangers have served in the recent conflicts. These men and women deserve to have their records preserved, too. These conflicts include the War on Terror, War in Afghanistan, and the Iraq War.
The dedication of the VFW is an excellent representation of the Iron Range mentality. These men and women live in some of the harshest conditions in the country, yet continue to serve. That is the story of each and every veteran that is remembered. And this dedication to honoring veterans continues to grow. There are plans to expand the online database to include all veterans. Plans include adding to the past wars, but also to honor those who have served in more recent conflicts. This devotion may never end, and these Iron Range veterans may always be remembered and honored.
- Anchor at Chisholm Veteran’s Memorial to be dedicated. (2013, August 4). .duluthnewstribune. Retrieved from Chisholm Anchor Dedicated
- Potter, T. (2015, December 8). MDC UNVEILS VETERANS DATABASE. Hibbing Daily Tribune. Retrieved from MDC Unveils Veterans Database
- Lynch, J. (2003, August 23). CHISHOLM VETERAN SAW THE WORLD IN THE NAVY. Hibbing Daily Tribune. Retrieved from Chisholm Veteran Saw the Whole World in The Navy
- Archivist at Minnesota Discovery Center (2015). “Iron Range Veterans’ Memorial”
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- Nelson, Maggie and Winkle, Emma Van (n.d.). “St. Louis County Homefront During World War II”