Two Park County veterans were recognized on Thursday by Gov. Greg Gianforte for their service to the community of Livingston and Park County, through the Montana Governor’s Veteran Commendation.
Thirty-one veterans have received the 2021 Montana Governor’s Veteran Commendation award, for the positive impacts they have had on their community post service. Ed Gilbert and Darren Bergsing, members of American Legion Post 23, were voted by their peers for this award.
Darren Bergsing served 20 years in the United States Air Force, was deployed four times, and was a part of Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Southern Watch, and Enduring Freedom. Bergsing was raised in Livingston and knew that he wanted to serve his country and his community.
From cleaning up the highways to giving local veterans a lift to the bus stop or motel, to maintaining about 78 fatality markers in Park County.
“Every year, I go out and straighten them up, and paint them, and make sure they’re all good to go,” Bergsing said.
Bergsing’s mother, Kay Bergsing has five children, four of which served in the military. Pride is the word that comes to her mind when she thinks about the accomplishments of her children and the continuation of their service in the community.
Ed Gilbert, a Vietnam veteran and Commander with Post 23, reflects on his service—nearly 60 years ago.
“Of course, you’re nervous and scared. I left Bozeman and it was twenty below zero, and you get to Vietnam,” Gilbert said. “They open the plane doors, and man, the smell hits you and the heat.”
Gilbert helps organize different fundraisers and dinners and works closely with the American Legion Baseball league.
Even though the award bears their name, Gilbert and Bergsing agree that the award is for the entire Post 23.
“We got a good legion and a good VFW down here; I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for all of their help,” Bergsing said.
“We can’t do this without you guys and our family and everything behind us, supporting us,” Gilbert said.