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Big event planned today at Alexandria VA clinic

Today is a big day for the Max Beilke family and area veterans.

The St. Cloud Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center will officially rename the VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Alexandria in honor of Max J. Beilke.

The ceremony will be held today, Saturday, at the clinic, located at 515 22nd Avenue East, at 1 p.m. Extra parking will be available at the Garden Center Lanes at 115 30th Avenue East, in Alexandria.

A bus will shuttle event attendees to the clinic for the ceremony.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Erik K. Shinseki is scheduled to give the keynote address.

Other participants include U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, U.S. Representative Collin Peterson and Major General Larry Shellito, Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard.

The Minnesota National Guard (MNG) Band will provide music and the MNG Color Guard will serve as Color Guard.

Beilke, a 1950 Alexandria High School graduate, made his mark in history for both a last and a first.

On March 29, 1973, he was the last official U.S. combat soldier to leave Vietnam.

Twenty-eight years later, on September 11, 2001, he was among the first to be killed when hijackers rammed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon.

The plane crashed into a window in the office where he had just attended a meeting to advocate for military retirees and veterans.

The tragic end to Beilke's life terminated a decorated and dedicated career of service to the U.S. Army and to his fellow veterans. He served 22 years active duty in the U.S. Army in Germany, Korea and Vietnam.

Beilke retired from active duty as the senior non-commissioned officer of the Army Intelligence Command, Fort Meade, Maryland in 1974. Following his retirement, Beilke worked as legislative counsel for the National Association for Uniformed Services before accepting a position with the Department of the Army as the deputy chief of retirement services in the office of the deputy chief of staff for personnel.

He was an advocate for Tri-care For Life (TFL), a Medicare supplement entitlement for Medicare-eligible military retirees and their dependents.

The public is welcome and encouraged to attend this event. Tours of the "Max J. Beilke Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic" will be offered following the ceremony.