The Minnesota Military Museum will honor Minnesota veterans Merl Fletcher of Randall and Ken Buettner of Avon, as the featured Veterans of the Month during October. These veterans continued to serve fellow veterans as volunteers at the Military Museum.
Fletcher was born in Crosby and raised in Browerville where he graduated from high school in 1965. He served in the Artillery Branch of U.S. Army, in the U.S. and in Germany. Returning to civilian life, Fletcher worked in the printing business for 34 years.
After his retirement, he started volunteering at the Minnesota Military Museum. He had a love of history and of old things. Often, while working on a project, Fletcher would remark that he felt honored to work on the artifacts of Minnesota’s military heritage. His work was always well thought out and careful.
Fletcher was very interested in, and a collector of, guns and knives. At the museum he put his knowledge and talents to good use cleaning and restoring the museum’s collection of guns and edged weapons. During the building of the museum’s Civil War exhibit, Fletcher worked on the construction of the new exhibit cases and on many other aspects of the exhibit right up to the exhibits opening event.
For a number of years, Fletcher did the custodial work in the museum. It was a rare day when anyone could find a fingerprint or speck of dust in the exhibit areas.
Buettner was born in St. Cloud and was raised in Avon. After high school, he enlisted in the Marine Corps. He later served in the Army Reserves as a member of the 205th Infantry Brigade.
In the 1980s, Buettner became a full-time Army Reserve recruiter, serving many units at Ft. Snelling and around the Twin Cities and St. Cloud areas. In the winter of 2001, Buettner started volunteering at the Minnesota Military Museum working long and hard under very difficult conditions on the cabinets for the museum’s 60th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor exhibit.
In 2002 and 2003, his work was instrumental in building the additional exhibit cabinets needed for the museum’s Airborne Exhibit. This included his work on the aircraft door with the paratrooper standing in the door.
In 2010, Buettner worked hard on the exhibit cases for the museum’s Civil War Exhibit. He was an avid reader and had a great love of history. His historical knowledge, especially about World War II, was great and he could always impress others with the depth of his knowledge.
“Ken passed away in 2011. Merl passed away in 2012. Their friendship, knowledge, hard work and dedication to the museum’s mission are missed by all who knew and worked with them,” said museum director Jeff Thielen. “The Museum depends on the hard and loyal work of its dedicated volunteers.”
The public is invited to view the entire exhibit on Fletcher and Buettner at the Minnesota Military Museum located at Camp Ripley. The Museum is the only museum in the state representing Minnesotan’s in all branches of service from frontier days to the present. Winter hours are Thursdays and Fridays, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., with group tours available by appointment.