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Community remembers Michigan military unit that served in Allied forces during Russian Civil War

Michigan "Polar Bear" soldiers honored on Memorial Day
Michigan "Polar Bear" soldiers honored on Memorial Day 01:48

TROY, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) - A group of Michigan soldiers known as "Polar Bears" were honored and remembered during a special Memorial Day service in Troy. 

"Memorial Day weekend is all about remembering our fallen heroes," said David Krall, Vice President of White Chapel Memorial Park Cemetery in Troy. 

The Polar Bears were a military unit of roughly 5,000 troops from the 85th Division, 339th Infantry, and most called Michigan home. 

The Polar Bears were the American Expeditionary Force in North Russia and served as part of the Allied intervention during the Russian Civil War. 

The group fought against the Bolshevik forces from September 1918 to July 1919. However, many never returned home, not even their remains. 

It wasn't until an expedition under the Veterans of Foreign Wars that 86 more soldiers' bodies were recovered and returned to the U.S. in 1929. 

Krall said the White Chapel is the resting place for many of these heroes. 

"The Polar Bears are very near and dear to my heart because we have 56 men who are laid to rest here in front and around of this polar bear monument,'" Krall said. 

Krall said this year is the 105th anniversary of the Polar Bears returning home, but Monday is the 93rd annual memorial remembering and honoring their service. 

As families celebrated Memorial Day weekend by having a good time, he said not to forget the price these heroes paid. 

"You know, if we don't protect our memories of what our fallen heroes do, we lose our freedoms because we gotta know what the cost is; that cost is heavy; cost is not light; that is not something that should be taken for granted," Krall said. 

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