Ken Dahlberg visiting the family farm in Wilson while on a leave during WWII. Submitted photo
Ken Dahlberg visiting the family farm in Wilson while on a leave during WWII. Submitted photo
WILSON, WI - Two years ago the idea of having an expanded park for the children of Wilson was discussed at a Village Board meeting. On Saturday, May 22 that dream will be realized with the dedication of the Ken Dahlberg Park.

A Park Committee was formed. The committee proposed that the village fund $50,000 toward the project. When members were informed that the village had no available funds, they looked for other ways to fund the project and to make the dream of an expanded park a reality.

Four committee members chaired by Village treasurer Tenaya Tison began fundraising with pancake breakfasts, bake sales and grant writing. Through a community member contact, they connected with a former Wilson resident who wanted to give something back to his old hometown.

This is "One Step Forward" for this small village in rural St. Croix County. "One Step Forward" is the name of the book about the life of Wilson native son Ken Dahlberg. A book so fascinating that it is impossible to put down.

You may have heard the Dahlberg name before, but you probably didn't know his family moved to a 120 farm just outside of Wilson in 1918 from St. Paul when Ken was one.

The 92 year old Dahlberg has had quite an interesting life since leaving the farm after his junior year in the small community school in Wilson. After graduating from high school, he worked hard in the hospitality and hotel industry before being drafted into Uncle Sam's Army where he went through basic training and by luck and hard work became a WWII Fighter Ace.

Dahlberg became one of only a handful of triple aces in WWII with 15 aerial victories during his service to his country. He was shot down three times, escaping twice back to his unit and finally held prisoner of war at Stalag 7-A in Moosburg, Germany for the last few months of the war.

Dahlberg was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation's second highest military honor, second only to the Medal of Honor by his friend Vice President Hubert Humphrey in 1967. This came after the nomination for the medal had been lost in a desk drawer in the Defense Department at the end of the WWII in 1945.

Dahlberg is a very successful inventor and businessman and is best known for his Miracle Ear hearing aid company.

Or perhaps you may recall his name from the famous Watergate scandal in which he gained quite a bit of notoriety in the 1970s.

Quoting from "One Step Forward," "Dalhberg's journey from his Midwest agrarian roots through the crucible of World War II to the founding of an international company is a classic retelling of the story of America's greatest generation. That is quite a story for a farm kid from Wilson, Wisconsin.

It was that farm kid who has made a generous contribution to the new playground park in Wilson. Although he was content to remain anonymous, the community refused to allow it. Instead, they have chosen to honor Dahlberg by naming the park after him.

The Village of Wilson is pleased to invite the public to join them this Saturday, May 22, 2010 at 1:00 p.m. for the dedication of the Ken Dahlberg Park, "One Step Forward."