Donald and Margaret Wickler

Description

Written Memory

Date

June 10, 2012

Text

Donald and Margaret Wickler:
Memories from the 1972 Rapid City Flood.

LTC Don Wickler, USAF (RET), Jackson, MN and Margaret Miller Wickler, Volga, SD, Married on 20 March 1948.

In the process of transferring from Elmendorff AFB, AK to Ellsworth AFB, SD we arrived back in South Dakota in early June ’72 leaving our two children, Dan and Tim, with grandparents in Volga. We arrived in Rapid City on 7 June and occupied guest quarters at the air base.

With mandatory retirement in the near future and a decision to remain in Rapid City, we spent June 8 with a realtor shopping for a single family dwelling. I purchased a pre-owned Volkswagon at 9 AM the morning of the 9th of June.

At 7:30 PM of the 9th, we were visiting Dottey Moe, wife of Bill Moe, Huron, SD, graduate Pharmic, SDSU Class of ’50. Also a USAF Lt. Colonel (Ret), a tanker pilot, and employed as a pharmic at the local hospital. He was at work and not due home until 9 PM.

It was raining “cats and dogs”! When Bill arrived at their home just to the west of Meadowbrook Golf Course, water was entering the finished basement. Bill and I proceeded to move possessions off the basement floor. At about 9:30PM, the girls called down to report that our cars (my VW and Bill’s new Ford Pinto), parked on the street, were floating away. Only a few minutes after leaving the basement, the concrete block wall on the west of the residence collapsed inward and inundated the basement. Our group of four climbed on to the roof and watched as the neighbor’s house next door moved off the foundation and into the street. Bill’s garaged Cadillac was in 3.5-4ft of water. His streetside mail box was not quite in the water.

We spent perhaps one hour on the roof and could see lights on in the dwelling to the south at somewhat a higher elevation. We trudged up the hill in ankle deep water and were uninvited but welcome guests at the home of the Mr. and Mrs. Pelky (sp?). . . perhaps thirty souls in the living room from midnight until first light on 10 June. Early that morning, we were rescued by the Army National Guard from Camp Rapid, jeeped to the guard camp for coffee and donuts and then to our quarters at the air base.

(Note: Bill Moe passed away perhaps 15 years ago. He had given up smoking cigarettes but on the night of 9 June, decided to give it another try!)

Collection

Citation

“Donald and Margaret Wickler,” Flood of 1972, accessed August 17, 2022, https://1972flood.omeka.net/items/show/480.