Get to know RWC residents who served in U.S. Armed Forces
In 1959, CDR (Commander) Ret. Harlan Oelmann was a recent graduate of Iowa State University and commissioned into the U.S. Navy. The farm boy set sail to see the world and serve his country, a career that would last 22 years.
From Morocco to the Suez Canal and from Kuwait to Cuba, Oelmann held various roles including as a scheduler who assigned personnel to Vietnam and served in surface warfare, among others, while also holding assignments that took him across the U.S.
Along the way, Oelmann met and married his wife Dorothy, and they grew into a family with three daughters. His last assignment landed him at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., where he retired and worked a few years as a civilian. With a daughter living in the area and with friends at Rappahannock Westminster-Canterbury, the Oelmanns sold their home and moved to RWC in June 2021.
The Oelmanns still own the family farm in Iowa. For that, he’s grateful, just as he is for his time in the Navy. “I was on one of the first ships to visit the new country of Kuwait. The Cuban Missile Crisis was a major event during my time. And I served on the ship that the U.S. president would escape to if necessary. The Navy allowed me to see and learn things I never would have had the chance to experience otherwise.”
Oelmann is one of 63 RWC residents who served in the military and whose photos and stories will be displayed as part of RWC’s Veterans Wall of Honor exhibit, held each November in RWC’s Gallery Hall. Collectively, these vets gave 659 years of service to their country. The exhibition is open to the community throughout November.
RWC’s veterans also will be honored in an annual Veterans Day breakfast and patriotic concert.