Blue Earth County Fair's inaugural Outstanding Veteran honoree is a former Seabee who now has a big role in Mapleton's annual Snowflake Dazzle celebration.
Lanny Cox, of Mapleton was nominated by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5338. "He's 6 foot 4 and he grows a white beard. The kids like to pull it to see if its real. Saint Nick, aka Cox, helps out Mapleton Chamber of Commerce during its holiday promotion, Snowflake Dazzle.
He stays active in his VFW Post by placing American flags on veterans' graves and along Highway 30 for observances such as Memorial Day.
"Lanny is the first to volunteer to serve as honor guard at a vet's funeral," Swanson said. "To me, he typifies what it means to be a citizen-soldier from the Vietnam era."
He served in the U.S. Naval Construction Battalions, better known as the Seabees and was sent to Vietnam twice.
"I was in Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 121. In 1967-68 I was there for eight months. After a break of about three months I returned again for another eight months," Cox said. "We were north of Da Nang, near Hue — the Imperial City — during the Tet Offensive."
Cox was a member of a Bloomington VFW post before he and his family moved to Mapleton about 40 years ago. He is a past commander for Post 5338.