HOTROD Moves On
Michael Bednar, born May 25, 1947 to John and Pam Bednar, deceased of Haugen, died on Saturday, November 23, 2019.
He was surrounded by the three most important people in his life. His wife, Susan Marie Hanson Bednar, married 1998 of Minong and spent 33 wonderful years together. His daughter, Lisa Marske of Spooner, and son, Jake Bednar of Madison.
He was so proud of and thought the world of his granddaughters, Taylor Bednar of Eau Claire and Summer Marske of Spooner, both of whom spent countless hours with him during his two and a half year battle with cancer.
Since the age of 13, he knew he wanted to be a U.S. Marine. After high school graduation, in August of 1965, he fulfilled that dream. He trained at Camp Pendleton, California and in 1966 he was one of the Marines who formed India Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. He further trained in Hawaii, Okinawa, the Philippines, Japan and then on to Vietnam. Mike made two beach landings prior to being lifted into the northern highlands for Operation Hastings, one of the largest operations in Vietnam. He was the 1st Commander’s radio operator when his platoon became surrounded by the Vietcong. After being shot twice, he played dead while the Vietcong went on to stab him five times. As reported in Time magazine, he lost consciousness throughout the night. Hearing the Medevac choppers the next morning, he crawled to the sound of their rescue with his insides hanging out. He was 19 years old at the time. He was awarded the Cross of Gallantry with bronze star by the Republic of Vietnam for bravery in action. According to the commendation the Marine on July 24, 1966 “showed great courage by advancing under a hail of enemy fire to rescue wounded during Operation Hastings. The noble and grave action of Cpl. Bednar won the deep admiration of military personnel of all ranks in the unit.”
Other medals and commendations he received were the Purple Heart, USMC Good Conduct, Presidential Unit Citation Medal, Vietnamese Service Medal with two Devices, Vietnamese Campaign Medal with Device, and the National Defense Service Medal.
He spent many months and underwent numerous surgeries recovering from his wounds. The mental scars would last decades.
He finished his tour of duty stationed in Gitmo, Cuba, as a brig chaser and at the U.S. naval base in Keflavik, Iceland. He was honorably discharged from Camp Pendleton on April 1, 1969.
Settling back into civilian life is never an easy road, but he found his nitch and a new battalion of comrades working for the Union Pacific Railroad, formally the Chicago Northwestern. He retired from there after 36 years of service.
The Haugen Bar was the venue of his retirement party, where all his favorite foods were served. As we all know, Mike was a huge foodie and a excellent cook. Cooking for him however was never fun, as his comments about your food sounded something like this. “It’s Good, But I’d Do This.” Even Aunt Gloria’s perfected 60 year old kolache recipe came under Hotrod’s scrutiny.
Retirement afforded him extra time to do all those things he had enjoyed so much in his younger years. Hunting at the Original Seven hunting shack, panning for gold out west was in his veins, ice fishing and catching northerns. But as the years increased, his joys were simple ones-playing poker at the Haugen Bar, heading on down to the corner bar(gas station) to have morning coffee with the guys or playing poker at the bar were the activities he enjoyed weekly. When his health no longer permitted him to get to these outings, the men came to him. Sue and Mike’s living room was always filled with these guys and Mike was always holding court. He had a presence about him that demanded you paid attention.
Even his last evening was honored by the presence of childhood friends and railroad buddies, wanting to say their last goodbyes.
Because of his horrific military experiences, it shaped his life and the kind of man he became. Sometimes in very challenging ways.
All of us sitting with him throughout that last evening felt pride as we listened to the U.S. Marine -Battle Hymm Of The Republic. We knew we were witnessing the loss of a very brave, wise and courageous man. He fought hard as a young man in Vietnam and again these last few years with cancer. In the end he again showed courage at his decision to stop chemo and “go out his own way.” That’s HOTROD.
Mike is survived by Cathy Rummel, who was married to him from 1970-1984 and the mother of his two children. He is also survived by his siblings, Jerry (Sandi) Bednar of Haugen, Moe (Bob) Hendricks of Minong, Jack (Donna) Bednar of Brill and his favorite cat, Buster Boy, who will be lost without Mike’s beard to snuggle up to everyday.
Graveside Services and Full Military Rites will be accorded him by the Haugen American Legion Post and members of the Marine State Military Honor Guard on Friday, December 6, 2019 at 1:00 p.m. at the Northern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Spooner, WI.
Visitation will be held from 4:00 unil 7:00 p.m. Thursday, December 5, 2019 at Appleyard’s Home for Funerals in Rice Lake, WI.
The family would like to thank Marshfield Medical Center Rice Lake Oncology Department and Lakeview Medical Center Hospice Program for their support and dedication to their patients and their families.