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Daughter surprises Minn father with medal ceremony

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 24, 2012 at 10:05 am •  Published: December 24, 2012
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In 2006, Melgaard retired from his civilian job — after 25 years as an administrator with Pine to Prairie Cooperative Center, which served 14 high schools in Northwest Minnesota.

He served as president of Minnesota Association of Career/Technical Administrators during the 2004-05 academic year. He was chosen as the 2004 Outstanding Career and Technical Administrator for the state of Minnesota.

Melgaard also served as an adjunct instructor at BSU for six years, and currently sits on the BSU Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Military and education played a large role in Melgaard's life. But music is his true passion.

The 188th Army Band provided an outlet for a career in music. Melgaard still plays today, taking his karaoke machine and guitar to nursing homes around Bemidji and entertaining residents.

"The people I play for are my same age," Melgaard said, noting his favorite musicians are Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and George Jones. "They listen to the same music I do."

Melgaard said Bradley, his buddy with more than three decades of teaching experience, was one of his biggest musical influences.

Bradley credits Melgaard's organizational skills in keeping their dance band, Rough Cut, going all those years.

"Arlin is a real fun-loving guy," Bradley said. "He has a real passion for playing guitar and singing and making music."

Together, in the Army band and their own band, the men played for distinguished military guests, crowds of thousands, and across the globe.

Melgaard's infectious laugh is evident when he shares the story about touring the Elvis Presley Estate in Palm Springs, Calif.

Two years ago today he was at the Presley home, one of a handful of tourists that day, when he struck up a conversation with the tour guide.

After the tour, Melgaard talked his way into playing one of Presley's guitars, which was lying on a couch at the home.

He still gets a kick out of telling the story.

"It was cool," said Melgaard, laughing. "If there were 30 people there, it would have never happened. It's funny how things work out. The right place at the right time."

Coincidentally, it was the next day — on Christmas Eve — in which Melgaard's home was burglarized.

Earlier this year, Melgaard experienced issues with his pacemaker, a medical device used to control abnormal heart rhythms. Recently, he went to the hospital so doctors could check on fluttering in his heart.

Once there, Melgaard said he developed pneumonia and then other complications. At one point, Melgaard said he didn't expect to survive.

"I kept fighting," he said.

Unbeknownst to Melgaard, that's motivated his daughter to replace the stolen military medals. She gave her father a pep talk, and enlisted help from Bradley and Reed, who were more than accommodating.

"I'd do anything to help my dad," Kamin said. "He's a very strong person and sometimes we just need to be reminded of that."

A few days ago, before Kamin presented her father with the awards, Melgaard said he was just trying to get through rehabilitation.

On Saturday, buoyed by the visit from his daughter and granddaughter, Melgaard said he's focused on getting better in the short term so he can spend more time with family.

"It was hard," Melgaard said of his recent health struggles. "I'm on the mend now."