A lifetime of Service

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People:Louie Boesel

By Tyler Franke, Contributing writer

Louis Boesel In his military uniform

Lifelong Oregonian, longtime Canby resident and World War II Navy combat veteran Louis Walter Boesel, better known as “Louie” to his many friends and admirers, was a remarkable individual who led a life full of adventure, courage, and dedication.

A young Veteran: Louis Boesel

Born Dec. 11, 1925, in Portland, he grew up on the Boesel Dairy Farm, located in an area known as “The Triangle” between the Willamette River and the Columbia Slough. As a young boy, he and his siblings would cross the Willamette River by boat to attend Sauvie Island School, long before a bridge was built to connect the islands.
In 1935, the Boesel family relocated to a dairy ranch on Highway 34, and Louie attended Albany High School.
In December 1943, at the tender age of 17, Louie enlisted in the United States Navy to serve his country during World War II. The following summer, after completing basic training, he was assigned the role of an anti-aircraft gunner aboard the USS John Rodgers, a Fletcher-class destroyer. This marked the beginning of an extraordinary tour of duty, during which Louie would participate in all 12 of the major battles of the Pacific theater.
He witnessed the harrowing scenes of Leyte Gulf, where the Allied forces secured a crucial victory in the largest naval battle of World War II, and by some criteria, the largest naval battle in history. He was present during the arduous Battle of Okinawa, which marked one of the bloodiest confrontations of the war. And he fought bravely during the Battle of Iwo Jima, alongside his Committed To The Community & Veterans“>Marine brethren who faced fierce opposition to secure the strategically important island. Now recognized as one of the bloodiest battles of the war, and the costliest in the vaunted history of the U.S. Marine Corps, the man who fought on the black sands of Iwo Jima did not initially regard it as the critical turning point it would later prove to be.
Iwo Jima was just a small [battle] as far as we were concerned,” Louie later recalled. “I mean, we went to everything else in the South Pacific. We were in every major battle.”
Even decades later, Louie didn’t like to talk much about his experiences of war, saying he “prefer[s] to sleep at night.” But he was one of the few who ever lived to witness the awesome and terrible power of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, and he and his crewmates watched from the deck of their ship when representatives of the Empire of Japan boarded the USS Missouri to sign the Instrument of Surrender, marking the end of hostilities in World War II.
Like many of those who have served in our nation’s Armed Forces, Louie’s service came at a cost. As gunners in that era did not wear ear protection, he suffered the loss of 90% of his hearing. He wore hearing aids for most of the remainder of his life.
On April 6, 1957, Louis married the love of his life, LaVina Mae Wells, in Albany. Together, they embarked on a lifelong adventure that spanned over 58 years of marriage. Louie retired from the Corps of Army Engineers in 1983, after dedicating 28 years of service to his country.
Following retirement, he settled in Blue River and later moved to Stevenson, Washington, before ultimately settling in Canby as their final home.
Louie had a great passion for the outdoors. He and LaVina would escape to Eastern Oregon each year, accompanied by friends and family, to engage in hunting, fishing, and camping. Louie was also a skilled handyman. He established his own business, “Louie’s Repair,” specializing in lawn mower repair and sales, and for many years, he continued to serve his community by fixing and selling mowers from his home.
Louis Walter Boesel peacefully passed away on June 7, 2023, at the age of 97. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife, LaVina Mae. His lifetime of service was celebrated in a memorial service on June 30 at Canby Alliance Church.
Seaman Louie Boesel’s unwavering commitment to his country, his resilience in the face of adversity, and his loving nature will forever be remembered.

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