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Community members honor legacy of Jim Sursely

Sursely always said his injuries on the battlefield were the best thing that ever happened to him, according to Rich Daly of DAVMN.

Posted: Jun 30, 2021 2:10 AM

ROCHESTER, Minn. - Community members honored the legacy of a Rochester native who dedicated his life to service, and speaking up for those wounded on the battlefield.

The American flag flew at half-mast over Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial Tuesday as a service remembering Jim Sursely marched on. Sursely passed away May 30th following decades of advocacy for disabled veterans that earned national acclaim.

The Lourdes High School graduate enlisted in the Army in 1966, before volunteering to serve in the Vietnam War two years later. A combat mission shortly thereafter would end in tragedy for Sursely, with the detonation of an enemy landmine forcing the amputation of both of his legs above the knee, as well as his left arm above the elbow.

After an extensive recovery, Sursely worked diligently to find success in the real estate industry. All the while, he continued fighting for his fellow disabled veterans, ultimately leading to his election as national commander of Disabled American Veterans, in addition to a range of other commendations.

Yet Sursely's impact went far beyond his resume, helping countless wounded veterans find comfort and security after life-changing sacrifices in the name of freedom.

"Wherever he went, he drew a group, and when he left, there was always healing," said Rich Daly, past commander of Disabled American Veterans of Minnesota.

Sursely's passing is an immense loss for veterans across Southeast Minnesota and beyond, Daly says, with his leadership matched only by his ability to listen.

"He never really wanted to talk about him, he wanted to know about the people in the room, and what they were dealing with," Daly said. "That put him in the position where it always seemed to be a healing event when you were there, and in most cases, when you saw Jim ready to leave a room, there were always people that wanted to come up and hug him."

During Tuesday's memorial service, Mike McElhiney of the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs announced a proclamation by Governor Walz recognizing June 29, 2021 as Jim Sursely Day. Sursely is survived by his wife, five children, and 12 grandchildren.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 915942

Reported Deaths: 9606
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Hennepin1786832038
Ramsey739711046
Dakota67683587
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Washington40545359
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St. Louis29591409
Scott25994186
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Crow Wing11213123
Chisago995379
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Otter Tail9813127
Benton9033125
Beltrami816997
Goodhue811798
Douglas7875101
Itasca772299
Mower733449
McLeod713084
Winona710258
Isanti700783
Steele685731
Morrison672879
Becker628574
Polk603187
Freeborn561246
Carlton546974
Mille Lacs532479
Lyon528461
Nobles525054
Nicollet522460
Pine515043
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Todd492843
Brown470759
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Martin386544
Wabasha375510
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Roseau316231
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Houston272017
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Cases: 525758

Reported Deaths: 7379
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Linn32838430
Scott27126295
Black Hawk22334382
Woodbury20736263
Johnson20150108
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Pottawattamie16215214
Dallas15573115
Story1398059
Warren8637107
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Clinton7928115
Webster7419124
Des Moines7153106
Marshall675494
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Jasper630591
Sioux622477
Lee5977106
Marion567697
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Plymouth493388
Henry427155
Benton414760
Jones413564
Bremer403873
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Washington395464
Carroll373355
Mahaska372366
Crawford355647
Jackson324047
Dickinson317555
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Delaware303255
Clay297636
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Tama282878
Page276133
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Union197141
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Mitchell184343
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