The last men share some cognac on the Iron Range

It’s unlikely that Joe Marcella and Leonard Pylka, Iron Rangers by pedigree, wanted to be the last two of their group of 92 veterans, a distinction that allowed them to taste the cognac on Saturday that they bought upon their return from World War II.

There’s got to be an incredible amount of loneliness in knowing you’re the last two, and that was the deal when they bought the 30-year-old cognac; the last two get to sip it.

“It’s something I didn’t believe that we were going to be the last men but we are,” Marcella told WDIO as he sipped the cognac in honor of his mates. He reported it “tastes old.”

Marcella is 95. Pylka is 97.

Meanwhile, in Luverne, Minn., a bottle still sits on the wall at Glen’s Deli. When I visited the last men of Luverne in 2013, there were nine left. Fifteen mugs remained on the wall with the bottle, a tribute to those who’ve died.

Now there are just five.

  • Dave

    This is a tradition mostly for remembering those who have passed and honoring them. It connects a group while life moves on.

    There is no depth of love like vets have for those who where in mortal danger and depended on each other to protect.

  • Gary F

    That’s 100 year old cognac now.

    Thanks to all who could and couldn’t drink that cognac.

  • BJ

    Funny I had just went back and reread the “The last men of Luverne” post. I had shared it in 2013 on facebook and facebook pulled up that reminder thing.