Two years ago, someone broke into Arlin Melgaard’s Bemidji home. The thieves made off with numerous possessions belonging to the 71 year old veteran and his wife. Forum Communications reports that the couple eventually replaced most of the items lost in the burglary, but could not replace a shadow box commemorating Melgaard’s 40 year Army and reservist career.
On Saturday, Melgaard received re-issued medals, badges and service stripes. His daughter Angie Kamin of Fargo surprised him with the replicas at his bedside at the Sanford Bemidji Medical Center.
“Of all the things I lost … that was the worst,” Melgaard said. “I wondered, ‘Why the hell would anybody take medals that weren’t even theirs?’ It was devastating.”
Earlier this year, Melgaard experienced heart issues and was hospitalized, then developed pneumonia. Melgaard said he didn’t expect to survive.
His health struggles motivated his daughter to replace the stolen military medals. She connected with her father's friends and former colleagues to track down the honors and collect them.
“I’d do anything to help my dad,” Kamin said. “He’s a very strong person, and sometimes we just need to be reminded of that.”