On Friday July 5th, Bob Olzweski was honored by Eide Ford Lincoln and the Bismarck Larks as the 2019 veteran of the year. Bob’s first pitch, was a bit high but we’d consider it a strike. Larks pitcher and first baseman, Brian Leonhardt caught the pitch and seemed to be ecstatic to be involved with the ceremony. Bob was sporting a patriotic outfit; a pair of blue jeans, his Vietnam veteran hat, and t-shirt commemorating the Vietnam War with a cartoon image of a rugged soldier and a faded American flag on the back. Bob then returned to his family in the Big Boy Bleachers, from there he presented his grandson with a Bismarck Larks baseball. The whole family seemed to be excited about the night ahead.
Throughout the early innings of the game, Bob conversed with several of the other 70 veterans being honored. Presumably about the military, life in Bismarck, and of course, baseball. At the midpoint of the second inning like at all Larks games, there was a moment where everyone who has ever served this great country can rise and receive recognition from the rest of the Larks fans. Bob quickly rose from his seat at this moment with a big smile on his face tipping his hat to the crowd as “God Bless the USA” blared in the background. He was disguised in the crowd, almost indistinguishable from the other fellow veterans in attendance. Little did he know how much that was about to change.
At the top of the 4th inning, both teams lined up along the foul lines and a great silence came over the crowd. Suddenly, the public announcer began introducing Bob as he walked out towards home plate accompanied by his family. He was greeted by Bismarck Larks General Manager, John Bollinger and Eide Ford Vice President, Jesse Peterson. Bob was selected out of 90 nominated veterans for this special recognition and deservedly so. Bob served in the military for forty years, during this time he earned a Purple Heart along with a plethora of other awards. Tonight was about the Bismarck community learning what anyone who associated Bob knew all along, he is a hero among us.
Once Bob’s introduction was completed, he was presented with a $1,000 check. Bob immediately let it be known that the money would be donated to his charity of choice, the Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Mandan. The crowd roared for Bob’s gesture, Eide Ford’s generosity, and all vets in attendance but the giving had just begun.
As Bob was being honored at home plate a lot was going on behind the scenes. In right field a team of Larks employees were laying down a plywood track for Bob’s big gift, a brand new 2019 Ford F-150 courtesy of Eide Ford Lincoln! The truck snuck down the path laid out. Once in sight, the crowd began to erupt. Peterson of Eide Ford jokingly asked Bob if he was a Ford man and Bob’s face lit up like a Fetzer Electric Firework. The F150 cruised from right to center field with Clark the Lark and Merifeather Lewis riding in style in the flatbed, waving the American flag. Actual fireworks shot off in left field as the celebration continued, colored purple like the heart Bob earned over 50 years ago.
Bob couldn’t have been quicker to show his gratitude. He immediately began saying his thank yous as soon as he was handed over the keys. “I’d like to thank all the veterans out there, those current serving, my whole family, my wife, and of course my niece who nominated me.” Bob then rode off into the sunset with his brand new F150, his loving family and some new fans.
Do you know a deserving veteran?
Check back next year and find out how you can nominate a veteran in our community…
Together with Eide Ford we made it our mission to pay special tribute to veterans in our community. These brave individuals have dedicated their time, commitment and service to our country. Together, we want to recognize their heroic efforts in a unique and memorable way. Be sure to check back next year and find out how you can nominate a deserving veteran.