By Roz Kohls
The Dassel Cokato graduating class of 1998 is looking for about 35 more classmates for its 10-year reunion planned for Saturday, Aug. 9.
The class, totaling 143 members, is in for a special treat at the reunion in Peter’s on Lake Ripley in Litchfield. A presentation on their classmate and “hometown hero,” Jamie Michalsky, will be part of the program.
Class reunion organizer Stacy (Wozniak) Spurzem of Cokato, and Michalsky’s best friend, said a DVD about Michalsky’s life, friends, family and activities will be shown at the reunion.
Michalsky died Oct. 23, 2004, in a blast from a suicide bomber in a shopping area in Kabul, Afghanistan.
One of the requirements before she left for her nine months of active duty in the Army Reserve was to make this DVD. The DVD is similar to a last will and testament, but not as gloomy. It seems prescient now, though, because Michalsky died shortly after finishing her active duty, Spurzem said.
Spurzem was Michalsky’s friend since the two were in the second grade. They played basketball in high school together. The DVD shows fun activities such as that, and is set to music.
“It’s pretty cool,” Spurzem said.
“It is quite a tribute to her family and friends, as well as giving us some idea of what it was like to serve her country. She had pictures of her in full uniform helping locals in the countries where she was stationed, and even some footage at night of warfare going on in the distance from her military base.
“It was an awakening to believe that my friend saw things like that, and it makes you realize that there are soldiers who are neighbors, family and friends, who see those things every day as they serve our country. I hope my classmates will enjoy a brief look into Jamie’s life and remember her as a good friend, classmate, and citizen,” Spurzem said.
The reunion also will feature a buffet dinner and slide show about the class’s high school years. Registration and social hour are 5 to 6 p.m., she added.
Michalsky had been a Russian interpreter with WorldWide Language Resources Inc., in neighboring Uzbekistan, where it was relatively peaceful. There were nine suicide bombings in Afghanistan in the preceding six months, according to the story about Michalsky’s death in the Oct. 27, 2004 Enterprise Dispatch.
Michalsky was planning to come home to Cokato in two months. She had gone to Kabul to see a doctor about her hand that was hurt in a car accident earlier. She also was buying Christmas presents there for her family and friends, according to her mother, Lissa Michalsky of Minneapolis.
Michalsky, who was unarmed, just happened to be standing by a United Nations peacekeeping truck that was targeted by the bomber. Seven other people were killed in the explosion.
Her funeral was Nov. 3, 2004, at Holy Family Catholic Church in Silver Lake.
The DC class of 1998 needs information on these classmates:
If anyone has information about these people, contact Stacy Wozniak Spurzem at (320) 286-4477. Members of the group planning the reunion are Mandy Berggren Weinandt, Kristi Robertson Hiivala, Ruth Ann Jari Erickson, and Spurzem.
The class of 1998 also has a web site, www.dcclassof98.com, containing reunion information, a list of classmates, and a survey for a reunion commemorative booklet.