Blackfoot Valley Dispatch - The Blackfoot Valley's News Source Since 1980

Obituary: Gary Oliver Ennen

 

Gary Oliver Ennen

On April 30, 2019, the world lost one of its toughest warriors. His friends and family grieve the loss of his big heart and count themselves lucky to have had the pleasure to have known him.

Gary was born Dec. 10, 1948 in Bellingham, Washington to Oliver and Margaret Ennen. After his father's passing in 1951, his mother remarried and the family moved to Woody Island, a small island off of Kodiak, Alaska. During his years on Woody Island, Gary developed a love of the outdoors. He became proficient in hunting squirrels and rabbits, fishing, and even became the captain of his own boat at a very early age. He travelled daily on his boat over to Kodiak to attend high school where he was active in sports and was loved by many.

After high school, in January of 1969, Gary joined the United States Army Special Forces, known as the Green Berets. His time in the service was not talked about often, but over the years the bits and pieces began to come together to show what a truly amazing soldier he was. His unit, the all-volunteer Military Assistance Command, Vietnam – Special Operations Group (MACV-SOG) was a highly classified, multi-service United States special operations unit that carried out some of the most dangerous and challenging operations of the Vietnam War. MACV-SOG made high-altitude, low-opening parachute jumps behind enemy lines, routinely carried out reconnaissance missions along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, penetrated deep into Laos and Cambodia, recovered downed pilots and attempted several POW rescues. Gary was a paratrooper and sustained many injuries during those years that plagued him for the remainder of his life.

MACV-SOG was forbidden to tell of their experiences in Vietnam for over 20 years. Once their actions were declassified, the SOG became the most highly decorated unit in Vietnam. All the soldiers were rewarded the Presidential Unit Citation.

In 1997, one of his fellow MACV-SOG brethren wrote a book about the daring exploits and exemplary accomplishments of their unit. In the book, Gary's whereabouts were listed as being unknown as he was unaware of the declassification. Once he learned his service time had been declassified, he joined a MACV-SOG group that met every year in Vegas for a reunion. Gary earned many commendations during his time in the Army and was a true patriot.

After his time in the service, Gary returned to Kodiak and established a wonderful life away from the tensions of war. His working years were spent dedicated to the National Weather Service as a meteorologist. In addition to his work with the NOAA, Gary was proud to be the owner/operator of a fishing charter service by the name of Dandy Charters. As the captain of his own boat, he took many people out on the water and helped them successfully catch their first halibut or salmon. It was amazing to see him in action, doing what he loved.

Gary served his community with as much dedication as he served his country. He joined the Masonic Lodge, serving dutifully through all the chairs, and even becoming the Worshipful Master. The Elks Lodge was also fortunate enough to have Gary as an active member for many years. Gary was proud to call Kodiak his home and enjoyed many wonderful years there.

In 2014, Gary moved to Lincoln to be close to his cousin Brent Anderson and family. He established a beautiful life in Lincoln and enjoyed hunting and fishing with his new Montana friends. As he got older, his tolerance of the cold waned and he became more of a fair-weather sportsman but still loved any time he could spend outdoors. Daily coffee stops at Bob & Trudy Armstrong's and his Thursday night Bunkhouse Poker Club were guaranteed to get him out of the house, even in the dead of winter. Without a Masonic Lodge or Elks Club in town to join, Gary served his new community by joining the Methodist Church in Lincoln and became a great supporter of the Lincoln Public Schools Music Department.

Gary was an especially talented guitarist. In his younger years, he played and sang for a local rock band. Later in life, Gary devoted countless hours to playing classical guitar. He even travelled to Paraguay to study under Renato Bellucci.

Without Gary here on Earth, the fish and the deer can rest easy but our fish will never be cooked quite right, our family dinners will be missing some noise, and we will never know who has achieved Meathead status in the world.

Gary was preceded in death by his sisters Doris Jolene and Carol Ruth and his parents Oliver Ennen and Margaret Sivers.

Military Funeral Services will be held at Fort Harrison on Friday, May 1o, 2019 at 11 a.m. The reception will follow at the Pizza Ranch in Helena, as Gary hated a cold sandwich and salad bar. In lieu of flowers, please send memorial donations to the Lincoln Volunteer Ambulance or a charity of your choosing.

The Lincoln Volunteer Ambulance

PO Box 455

Lincoln, MT 59639

 

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