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News From The Past

October 14, 2004



Richard Sorenson - Okinawa Hero Passes Away 

Richard K. Sorenson, born August 28, 1924 in Anoka, Minnesota, passed away October 9, 2004. He had been a resident of Reno, Nevada since 1978.

Richard (Rick) was considered a "60+ year miracle" because he was not expected to survive after hurling himself onto a grenade at the age of 19 during World War II. For this act of valor that saved the lives of his machine gun crew, he received our nation's highest military award, the Medal of Honor. After his injury, the Lord sustained and strengthened him to go on to lead a successful life as a loving husband, father and grandfather while also attaining admirable professional achievements.

His parents, Carl and Virginia Sorenson, of Anoka, Minnesota, preceded Rick in death. He is survived by his wife, Mildred (Milli); his five children: Robert Sorenson of Minneapolis, MN, Wendy Thorson of Reno, NV, Debby Hanaway of Reno, NV, James Sorenson of Clearfield, UT, and Thomas Sorenson of Sparks, NV; his seven grandchildren: Joseph, Megan, Brock, Karen, Elizabeth, Bryan, and Luke; his brother, William Sorenson, and sister, M. Carol Atkins, both of Minnesota, and numerous cousins.

After being separated from the Marine Corps in 1946, Rick went to work as a contact representative with the Veterans Administration in Minneapolis, Minnesota serving in various positions until he entered St. John's University in St. Cloud, Minnesota to study business in 1948. While attending the University he met his lifetime companion and beloved wife of 55 years, Milli. Rick was recalled to active duty in 1950 during the Korean War, was placed as a Marine Corps recruiter, and ultimately commissioned to First Lieutenant. He was then ordered to report to Marine Corps Basic School in Quantico, VA and then was assigned to the 7th Engineer Battalion in Camp Pendleton, CA. In January of 1954 he received orders to report to the 3rd Engineer Battalion in Okinawa, Japan until resigning his commission in 1955 and retiring to civilian life. Rick resumed his employment with the Veterans Administration in Minneapolis and remained there until 1957. He then pursued a career as an insurance underwriter for Equitable Life Insurance for ten years. He made the decision to move to Southern California in 1967, returning once again to the Veterans Administration where he advanced and was ultimately promoted to Division Chief of the Veterans Service Department. In 1978 he transferred to Reno, Nevada as Director of Veterans Affairs for all of Nevada and nine counties in California. He retired in 1985.

Always active in the communities in which he lived, Rick served on the St. Anthony Village, MN Council, Homeowners' Boards in Westlake Village, CA and Reno, Board of Directors for the United Way, Northern Nevada Boy Scout Council, Regional Director of the Medal of Honor Society, Board of Directors of the Navy League, Chairman of the Bob Hope Patriot Award Dinner in 1976, and a participant in the seventh War Bond Drive. Rick was a member of the Marine Corps League (Life Member and Chapter Commander), 4th Marine Division Association (Life Member), Chapter Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, American Legion, VFW, Knights of Malta (Life Member), the Minneapolis Jaycees (Honorary Lifetime Member), and the Reno Rotary Club.

Rick enjoyed many years of hunting, boating, fishing, and traveling to many parts of the country and around the world. He was also an avid reader, historian, artist and craftsman, patriot, ardent dancer, and an adept chess and Monopoly player. As a wonderful Dad and Grandpa, he instilled passions for all these things in his children and grandchildren.

A loved man, a respected man, a dedicated man, a good man...he will be greatly missed.

A memorial service will be held on Monday, October 18, 2004 at 11:30 a.m. at Mountain View Mortuary, 425 Stoker Ave., Reno. A reception will follow.

Interment will be held with full military honors at a later date at Fort Snelling National Cemetery, Minnesota.

In lieu of flowers, a donation may be made to the Medal of Honor Society Scholarship Fund, National Headquarters, 40 Patriots Point Road, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464, (800-955-9859), or to your favorite charity.



2004, by Reno-Gazette Journal


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