Albert WiestAl Wiest, retired US Army Colonel, died peacefully but unexpectedly at the age of 98 on December 30th, 2012, in his home in Beachcrest, rural Olympia, WA. He was born on August 22, 1914, in Jamestown, ND, where he came to be called “Bill”, to couple him with his identical twin brother Bob.
Al Wiest, retired US Army Colonel, died peacefully but unexpectedly at the age of 98 on December 30th, 2012, in his home in Beachcrest, rural Olympia, WA. He was born on August 22, 1914, in Jamestown, ND, where he came to be called “Bill”, to couple him with his identical twin brother Bob. Al grew up in Jamestown, graduated from high school, and spent the rest of the 1930’s Great Depression years in a wide variety of pursuits wherever work could be found. Among other things, he was a semi-professional baseball player, grain harvester, airport builder, store clerk, importer of used Model A Fords from Detroit to Jamestown, deliveryman, meat cutter and member of the Civilian Conservation Corps. His favorite sideline was Company H, 164th Infantry Regiment, North Dakota National Guard, which he joined in 1933 and stayed with until the unit, with the possibility of war looming, was taken into federal service in 1941. In that year, while serving in Louisiana, he married his hometown sweetheart, Arla Newton. She was a devoted army wife, following the colors with son Richard, and later daughter Mary, until happy retirement. Sadly, Mrs. Wiest died in 2001 after almost 60 years of marriage.
During WWII, then Lt. Wiest served in the South Pacific, where he became an infantry heavy weapons company commander and his regiment achieved a modest immortality as the first US Army unit to see offensive action in the war, reinforcing beleaguered Marines on Guadalcanal in October of 1942. The 164th shared in the Naval Presidential Unit Citation awarded to the 1st Marine Division, probably the only complete army unit to receive this distinction during the war. He loved the army and stayed on, serving in the US, Japan and Germany, including two combat tours in the Korean War. Retiring in 1964, he helped build his dream house, picked apples in Eastern Washington for a season, and later sold sporting goods to the Army/Air Force PX system for many years while pursuing fish, elk and the perfect cigar in his spare time. He kept a special spot in heart for his North Dakota roots and his WWII regiment, regularly attending the annual reunions, including his last one in 2012.
A man of ready wit and rich humor, good storyteller and a natural leader, known as “The Skipper” to his men on Guadalcanal, Col. Wiest was active in the Beachcrest Community Association and St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church, Lacey. His is survived by son Richard and daughter-in-law Inta, (Lynnwood, WA), daughter Mary, son-in-law Frank and grandsons Kyle and Paul (Oviedo, FL) granddaughter Bethany (Atlanta) and nieces and nephews in ND and TN.
A graveside service with full military honors will take place at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, February 9th, at Woodlawn Cemetery, 5930 Mullen Rd SE, Lacey, WA, followed by a celebration of life at 11:30 at St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church, 540 School St SE, Olympia, with reception and lunch afterwards in the church hall.
The family suggests that in lieu of flowers, a donation be made to a charity of choice or the National World War II Museum