Announcing the 2012 Living Legend – Jim Dehlin

When we decided to honor our legendary wool cap by honoring a few living legends, we were pretty sure we’d meet some doozies. We never imagined we’d run into someone like Jim Dehlin.

According to the entry form sent in by Jim’s son, Jesse, Jim is a bona fide American hero. The U.S. Army even says so.  After losing both legs in a land-mine explosion in Vietnam, Jim managed to wrack up an impressive bucket list of accomplishments from the front-row seat of his wheelchair:

He became a pilot.
He raced dirt bikes in Spain.
He ran with the bulls.
He tried downhill skiing, got bored and tried downhill ski racing.
He learned to water ski.
He hunted caribou in Alaska.
He swam with sharks.
He served as a volunteer firefighter.
He backpacked across Europe. Twice.
He ranked nationally in wheelchair basketball.
He appeared in Poison’s “Something to Believe In” video.
He was mentioned in three books by Senators and a Four-Star General.

“It’s not the accomplishments that make my dad a living legend,” said the younger Dehlin, “it is the impact he has had on people throughout his life that make him so. Over the 42 years since his injury, he continues to inspire people to tackle life and to succeed.”

Take, for example, how he used his sense of humor to improve the morale of other patients at Valley Forge Army Hospital—while he was dealing with his own injury. Or how he worked two jobs to put himself through school (he became an aviation maintenance specialist, then an educator) and plowed snow in the winter—for free for those in need. Or how he continues to challenge life by pushing boundaries and inspiring those around him to do the same.

“I am honored to be the recipient of the inaugural Stormy Kromer Living Legend award. To be included in such an elite group of finalists has been a humbling experience. I am blessed in my life to have my family and friends who have always supported me,” said Jim Dehlin, the inaugural Living Legend Award Recipient. “I am especially thankful to my son Jesse, who honored me as his Dad by nominating me. Many thanks to Stormy Kromer and all who voted,” Dehlin added.

As part of his Living Legend status, Dehlin receives a $500 Stormy Kromer gift certificate and a donation to the charity of his choice. Three percent of Stormy Kromer sales between January 9 and January 31, 2012, will be given to Homes for Our Troops, which builds specially adapted homes for disabled veterans.

“We see ourselves as a bit of a legend up here,” said Gina Thorsen, of the company which created its iconic ear-flap cap in 1903 and dozens of hand-stitched outdoor apparel items since that time, “but when we started reviewing the entries into our Living Legends contest, we were humbled to the point of speechlessness. These are incredible people, and Jim Dehlin is truly a hero. On behalf of the Stormy Kromer name, we are honored to recognize him as our inaugural Stormy Kromer Living Legend.”

25 thoughts on “Announcing the 2012 Living Legend – Jim Dehlin”

  1. Congrats Jim…definitely learned a lot about you reading this, but what I know best is what a good friend to our family you’ve been. From early on in childhood, I knew you as a warm and heart-felt guy…what I learned through the years is what grace and courage it took for you to face life as a veteren returning from an unpopular war. Thank you for your sacrafices, and for being a personal example to our family.

  2. Congratulations Jim. I was very Happy to hear you won the contest. God Bless you and your Family. You are truly a Hero and inspiration. Marlene Heit

  3. Jim,

    Congratulations on this honor. You are a very remarkable man and an “old” friend. Perhaps next summer I can take the Harley to Roscommon for a visit.

    I’ve also worn Stormy Kromer hats for a few years now and not only are they as adverstised, but “yooper” made.


  4. Hi Jim, nice to read all the great accomplishments you’ve had along the way. Of course skiing was the one thing that always amazed me! You and Freddy rip pin

  5. Not surprized at your victory in this contest….Naomi Hult , one of the other contestants in this contest, sat in front of me at Bay College at a lecture by Father Frank Lenz on the History of mining in the U.p…and , if she had known that you were the winner, she would have congratulated me for helping you be who you are…she was Aunt Alice’s best friend when they were growing up….I wouldn’t be surprized if even SHE did not put in a vote for you…if not for her sake but for ALICE…we’re all proud of you…Ucnle Augie

  6. Jim is a true living legend, great friend, an inspiration, a fun, loving, intelligent man that shares his gifts with us all. I am so thankful that he did not leave us on that day in the fields of Vietnam. He has left his mark on us all and we are enriched from knowing him. Congratulations Jim. You are loved.
    Jeanne and John

  7. CONGRATULATIONS!! You are truly an amazing man. We are so honored to have been your friend for the past 46 years. We love you Jim.

  8. We’ve only spent brief and enjoyable times at Brent and Eli’s, but it was obvious that you had accomplished a great deal. Your positive attitude and determination must have inspired many; you are well qualified to have received the 2012 Living Legend. Congratulations Jim. Thank you for your service!
    From a fellow pilot,
    Bill and Carole

  9. GOOD JOB SK. You couldn’t have picked a more deserving person. I have had the pleasure of knowing Jim & Carol & family for many years now and have to say when God made Jim….he then broke the mold! Not surprising Jim also has a couple of brothers who might just be living legends too. Following in Jim’s footsteps….YES, I said footsteps. That’s because once you meet this guy,you will realize he is there to carry you anywhere you NEED to go. JIM, YOU ARE DA MAN!

  10. Congrats Mr Dehlin! I thought I was voting for a cool guy who treated me as one of the guys not just Bob’s little brother. (hope that makes sense) Enjoyed learning the many things that make you who you are. A very deserving and sincre congrats Jim.
    Rodger and Tracy

  11. Jim,I am glad you got the award someone from Michigan since I am a Upper from Ironwood Mich,Voted for BoBo Kolasar every day since I have know him for years etc.Anyway I glad for you ,best of luck in 2012. Just a Michigander BobJ

  12. Congratulations Jim. They found a living legend indeed. (Good work Jesse!) Let’s meet up sometime now that you’re livin under da bridge with the trolls again.
    Your Owosso buddy, Dan

  13. Hey Jim,

    Thanks to Jesse for telling your story. What you’ve done can give hope and inspiration to all humankind. No doubt your life’s achievements are the result of a strong and caring family. Congratulations to you, your family, and all your friends.

  14. I realize this award was given to this “legend” a year ago but I recently just found out. I was given a Stormy Kromer hat yesterday at Christmas by my younger sister Sandy and she enlightened me about the hat and history of them. She went on to tell me about Jim and all he has done in his life. I grew up in the same town and went to the same high school as he did. I lost track of Jim back in the 60’s but did hear of his injuries in Viet Nam. I am humbled by his “spirit” and all he has done in his life. He truly is an inspiration and well deserving of the Stormy Kromer award!! Every time I wear my hat I will think of Jim!! And wonder what new adventures he is up to. Amazing man…

  15. Such an inspiration!!! I cannot believe I met him! I’m humbled and honored to have met such an incredible man! His smile spread a unique warmth and radiance throughout the crisp Michigan air. I need to see this man again.

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