Gerald Timm Named County Legionnaire Of The Year
If you have attended a funeral or flag raising involving the Martell-Mursau American Legion Post 325 of Goodman in the past two years or so, you have probably seen and heard Gerald Timm participating as post bugler. At his own expense, he obtained the bugle and the full dress uniforms for both the U.S. Air Force and Marines to go with it. He performs regularly at funerals, ceremonies commemorating fallen veterans, flag raisings and memorial dedications.
For that service, and many others in the 11 years since he joined Post 325, Timm was nominated for consideration as the Marinette County Legionnaire of the Year by Terry Flannery, Commander of Post 325. He was selected for the once a year award by county unit commanders and will be honored at the annual American Legion Banquet to be held at Newingham's Supper Club in Wausaukee on Saturday, May 6.
In his nomination letter, Flannery noted Timm is a retired Master Sergeant who served 20 years, 6 months and 11 days active duty, first as a member of the Marines during the Viet Nam War, and then with the Air Force after his enlistment as a Marine ended.
Flannery said Timm has been active in all events since joining their Legion Post 11 years ago, and in 2015 became the post bugler.
"Gerald saw a lot of the USA and the world as a soldier," Flannery wrote. "He served two presidents working on Air Force One. His wife is also a 20-year veteran of the USAF. His immediate family's service to their country is over 94 years.
"Gerald has been a great addition to Post 325 in Goodman," Flannery's letter went on." He said since acquiring his own electronic bugle Timm has participated at funerals, a flag-raising ceremony, and a veterans' memorial dedication, "and he performed beyond expectations." He added that having a Post bugler in uniform at functions is a great asset to their post, and commented, "Gerald is serving our Post as he served our country in the past. He is truly "Still Serving."
Timm was awarded a Post 325 commendation for his service in 2015, and nominated for the Legionnaire of the Year award for his service in 2016.
Flannery's letter included an impressive list of awards and medals that Timm has received, including the Air Force Good Conduct medal with four devices, the NCO Professional Military Education Ribbon, the Air Force Commendation Ribbon, Marine Combat Readiness Medal, Air Force Service Ribbon, Tour Device, National Defense Medal, Overseas Service ribbon with one device, Air Force Training Ribbon, Vietnam Service Medal with two devices, Outstanding Unit Award with one device, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with device, and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.
Timm and his wife, Yvonne, met at Andrews Air Force Base at Camp Springs, Md, just outside of Washington, DC, when they were both in the Air Force. They were married in 1981, and moved to their home between Goodman and Dunbar after they both retired from their military careers. They have a son, Charles, who moved with them to Dunbar in 1994. He also has a daughter, Catherine, who served four years in the Navy and was aboard ship for operations in Desert Storm and Desert Shield; and a son, Gerald, Jr., who did not follow a military career due to heart problems. There are five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Timm said he was born and raised in Milwaukee, and came from a family of seven. His father served in the Army, as did one brother. He and another brother were in the Marines, and two brothers joined the Air Force, as he did after his Marine enlistment was up.
"We tried to talk our sisters into joining the Navy, but they wouldn't do it," Timm said. "They were both engaged at the time."
Timm said he was 19 and had dropped out of high school when he joined the Marines. His brother, Richard, was only 17 at the time, but he wanted to join too. Being under age, he needed his mother's signature. She signed, but wrote to their commanding officer with a request that the brothers be kept together, so they were both sent to Vietnam in 1966.
Timm said he was furious when he learned what his mother had done. He wrote a letter home saying he had not wanted them to be together because if they went into bad fighting together they would have both been killed instead of one or the other.
As it turned out, they both came home safe, but for him there was at least one very close call that actually hinged on that little word, "OK".
He worked as a driver, bringing supplies and personnel to the front lines. He was set to replace another Marine, who told him he wanted one more week on that job because he hadn't yet earned his Purple Heart. Timm said he would agree to let him make that last trip only if their commander gave his OK. The commander said the magic word. Timm stayed behind and the other driver made the trip. On the way back he was killed when the vehicle Timm would have been driving hit a land mine.
After their year in Viet Nam was up, Timm and his brother were assigned to duty in Washington, DC, where Timm drove sedans for military personnel of all branches, mostly to and from the Pentagon. He said at one point he was the lucky one chosen to drive a Rolls Royce for Felix W. de Weldon, the man who designed and sculpted the Marine Corps' Iwo Jima Memorial.
While the Timm brothers were based in Washington, DC they met and married girls from Albany, Ga. They lived in Washington for a while. After the brothers were discharged all four moved to Georgia.
Six months later, Gerald Timm and his wife were divorced. Timm said he tried to re-enlist in the Marines but after being told he would need permission from the Marine commander who held a lower rank than he did, decided to join the Air Force instead, which he did in 1972.
He attended Technical School for Non Destructive Inspection, and then was assigned to Seymour Johnson Base in North Carolina, then to Iceland, then to Charleston, and finally back to Washington, DC., where he was working in 1981 when he met and married Yvonne, who was also in the Air Force.
Timm said his work involved using a type of penetrating dye to detect cracks in aircraft components.
Both Gerald and Yvonne had top secret clearances, and both did work connected with Air Force One, the plane used by United States Presidents and their families.
He did regular safety inspections on the plane, and Yvonne worked in Presidential Supply. She said they had a "goodie room," that was used to supply everything needed for Air Force One, including the Presidential china, playing cards, snacks, and more. She said every president's wife except Nancy Reagan had the Presidential china, crystal and silverware changed to her own preferred pattern. She said Mrs. Reagan kept the tableware used for her predecessor, declaring she would not waste the taxpayers' money that way. However, whatever plane the President went on, the Presidential china went on it as well.
Timm said when he retired he was given a vice president's deck of playing cards, complete in a velvet pack with the presidential seal on it. He has a photo of Air Force One with its crew, signed by each crew member.
Yvonne said she was "an Air Force brat," and was born in England. She joined the Air Force right out of high school in 1974, and served until 1994. The farthest she got was Alaska.
Timm retired from the military in 1988, but Yvonne served her 20 years, the final four of them in Grand Forks, N.D.
When she retired in 1994 they decided to move to Wisconsin because his family was here, and she has family near Nekoosa, in the central part of the state. They agreed they did not want to live in a big city, so they drew two lines across Wisconsin and decided to move to Dunbar, which they did in October of 1994. Their son, Charles, graduated from Pembine High School, and then attended Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich.
Eventually he joined the American Legion, as well as the DAV (for which he has not yet attended a meeting) and the VFW Post in Armstrong Creek. Yvonne said she was invited to join the Legion Auxiliary, but declined, since she is eligible to be a Legionnaire in her own right.
Timm today has some severe health issues due to his military service, including prostate cancer from Agent Orange in Viet Nam, PTSD from some of his experiences in "Nam, and COPD from chemicals he was exposed to while in the Air Force. He has had two heart valve replacements.
His decision to buy the electronic bugle came after the cassette player their Legion Post used for ceremonial events had some problems. The Legion and the VFW were going to buy the electronic bugle jointly, but there was some discussion as to who would play it and who would have custody of the instrument after it was purchased.
Finally, Timm said to resolve the disagreement he told them, "I'm going to buy it and I'm going to keep it and I'm going to play it." He said the instrument costs about $1,000 and plays Taps, Revile, Call to Colors, Retreat, and other ceremonial-type music. To go with the bugle he bought both Air Force and Marine Dress uniforms. He is entitled to wear both, since he was in both branches of service. On Memorial Day, he performs at cemeteries in Goodman, Armstrong Creek and Fence. He participates in the ceremonial flag burnings and on the Fourth of July at Lake Hilbert. He said he also uses the bugle for funerals, but "so far, fortunately, this year there have been hardly any." He said the first year he had it there were 11 funerals. There were only two last year. When he is out of town, the Legion has an Army veteran who fills in for events when the bugle is needed.
He said if he and Yvonne ever decide to move away he will probably give the bugle to the Legion Post with the understanding it is to be used by the VFW as well.
Meanwhile, he will continue being official bugler for Legion Post 325, and wear whichever of his two dress uniforms is most appropriate for the occasion.
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