Brainerd Resident Inspired by CRMC Nurse’s Outstanding Care and Military Service

Brainerd Resident Inspired by CRMC Nurse’s Outstanding Care and Military Service

During a routine medical appointment at Cuyuna Regional Medical Center, Brainerd resident Jim Knudsen found himself engaged in a conversation that weaved together tales of a shared commitment to our nation and those who selflessly served.

While Jim wouldn’t see the front battle lines, his uncle, Julius Knudsen, served during World War 2. Julius, a member of the 194th Tank Battalion from Brainerd, went missing during the harrowing Death March of Bataan. “My uncle is still the only MIA, missing since 1942. We’re still narrowing in on where he might be buried,” said Jim. Despite the passage of decades, Julius has remained the only MIA in the 194th Tank Battalion. Determined to bring closure to his family and honor his uncle’s memory, Jim embarked on a quest for answers, something he promised his late father.

“In the last ten years, I’ve used the Army’s DPAA staff, private researchers, and other internet experts, and we’ve finally narrowed down my uncle’s possible location,” said Knudsen.

During that time, Knudsen also joined the 194th Regiment’s non-profit volunteer group working out of the Brainerd Armory to keep the history and memory of the 194th Tank Battalion alive. Due to his involvement with the group, Knudsen received a 194th Regiment Challenge Coin. He would also receive a special coin from the head of all Army nurses, during a visit to Brainerd for a Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony. The coins represent a long-standing tradition for military personnel and first responders as a more informal way to recognize appreciation, standing in place of ribbons and medals.

While Knudsen admitted he met many wonderful people while receiving care at Cuyuna Regional Medical Center, one struck a chord with him: Certified Registered Nurse Theresa Blomer. For 25 years, Blomer selflessly defended our nation, serving in the North Dakota Air National Guard and the MN Air National Guard 133rd Airlift Wing out of Minneapolis. She deployed for 6-months to Kuwait, worked Homeland Security following 9/11, offered protection during the George Floyd riots, and worked countless hours during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“She (Blomer) worked in the guards and raised a family while working full-time. To do all of that and have the commitment to the National Guard, for her dedication, she deserves recognition,” said Knudsen.

Knudsen initiated a series of phone calls, diligently working to procure a Nursing Challenge Coin for Blomer to show his deep appreciation. The challenge coin would come with a special note from Colonel Hope Williamson-Younce, U.S. Army Commander and Director of Madigan Army Medical Center in Washington, “Absolutely phenomenal. Thank you for your steadfast service and compassionate care. Nurses like you who make personal impacts on the people around them are those who are truly working from the heart. Please continue your amazing work!”

Knudsen contacted CRMC to coordinate a recognition presentation in which Blomer was presented with the Nursing Challenge Coin, a 194th Regiment coin, and a certificate of appreciation.

For Blomer, the gesture was more than just a token; it was a testament to the profound impact one person’s kindness and dedication can have on another. “For somebody to take this time, I can’t put it into words. It’s just special to know that I made somebody’s day, and he made my day. These coins are earned, not something handed out. It means you did something extraordinary or left a special mark on someone.”