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West Fargo Legion post named Loren "Doug" Hagen Post 308

Loren "Doug" Hagen

Fargo-born Army 1st Lt. Loren "Doug" Hagen was killed in Vietnam on Aug. 7, 1971, when enemy forces ambushed his 14-person patrol.

Hagen was 25 years old.

On Tuesday, 43 years later, the newly formed West Fargo American Legion Post was named Loren "Doug" Hagen American Legion Post 308, in honor of the Army Green Beret and Medal of Honor recipient.

"We're both honored and humbled by the West Fargo American Legion's willingness to put my brother's name on their post in this way," said Mike Hagen of Aitken, Minn. "This is just one more way of recognizing and appreciating what he's done for all of us with his contributions in the Army."

Loren "Doug" Hagen was born in Fargo on Feb. 25, 1946. The family lived in Moorhead and moved to Decatur, Ill., when Doug was in ninth grade.

"He was my older brother. He was the most intelligent of us three boys, very studious," his brother Mike said.

"Doug was always very active in the community," he said. The Eagle Scout and honor student was student council and class president at Decatur's McArthur High School.

He would return to Moorhead each summer to work as a farm laborer and lifeguard. Doug was credited with saving a swimmer's life at the Moorhead swimming pool in 1968, according to Forum archives.

After high school, he enrolled at North Dakota State University, graduating in 1969 with an engineering degree.

That June, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, later graduating first in his officer training school class. He joined the Green Berets, graduated from jump school at Fort Benning, Ga. in spring 1970, before being shipped to Vietnam.

Two years earlier, his best high school friend, Alan Boyer, also a Green Beret, had been declared "Missing in Action" in Vietnam.

"That's really why Doug went into the service. He went to find Alan Boyer," said Mike. "It was his mission in life to find Alan."

Hagen was killed two months into his second tour of duty, less than a week from being promoted to captain.

Early on the morning of Aug. 7, 1971, Hagen's small, 14-person reconnaissance team, including eight Montagnard tribesmen, came under fierce assault from enemy forces. Outnumbered 107-to-one, Hagen and three others were killed in less than four minutes, according to the Simon and Schuster-published book "SOG: The Secret Wars of America's Commandos in Vietnam," written by Army Maj. John L. Plaster.

Hagen was awarded the U.S. Army's final Vietnam War Medal of Honor, according to Plaster's accounts.

With "total disregard for his own personal safety, Lt. Hagen crawled through enemy fire while returning small arms fire. Undaunted by enemy rockets and grenades, Hagen advanced upon his team's destroyed bunker, searching for team members, until he was fatally wounded," reads the Medal of Honor citation.

President Gerald Ford presented Hagen's father, Loren, the Medal of Honor at the White House on Aug. 8, 1974. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Mike and his brother, Jeff Hagen, Wayzata, Minn., are the only remaining immediate family members.

Loren "Doug" Hagen American Legion Post 308 held its first organizational meeting in December 2013 in the West Fargo Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7564, 308 Sheyenne St.

"We were told that West Fargo was the biggest city in North Dakota without an American Legion post," said Larry Reed, Post 308 commander. Ironically, the North Dakota American Legion headquarters is located in West Fargo at 405 Main Ave. W.

"Some people started talking and said, "Let's give it a shot,'" recalls Reed."We had to get 10 new members to get our charter started. We've gotten 54 paid members so far.That's very good for a new post."

Post 308 is always looking for new members, said Reed, an Air Force veteran who served in Vietnam in 1972. "I'm sure there's an untapped reservoir here in West Fargo," he said, referring to potential members.

The West Fargo American Legion Patriots baseball team will be using the Post 308 designation on their uniforms, Reed said.

Post 308 meets at 7:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at the West Fargo VFW.