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John "D.J." Guerrero

June 24, 1936 - July 29, 2016

Funeral Service - Saturday

August 13, 2016
- 10:00am

St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, Fargo

Visitation - Friday

August 12, 2016
5:00pm - 7:00pm

Boulger Funeral Home & Celebration of Life Center, Fargo

Prayer Service - Friday

August 12, 2016
- 7:00pm

Boulger Funeral Home & Celebration of Life Center, Fargo


Boulger Funeral Home

John "D.J." Guerrero

June 24, 1936 - July 29, 2016


John Guerrero, fondly known as “DJ”, passed away Friday July 29, 2016 at the age of 80.

Born June 24, 1936 to Hope (Martinez) Guerrero and Ben Guerrero in a little town near Reno, Nevada called Hazen. DJ’s mother, Hope, named him after the celebrated June 24 Feast of St. John the Baptist. He went to the orphans’ home in Carson City Nevada in 1940. John was adopted out in 1947 and moved to Sacramento California. When John was about 12 years old he started work in a Chinese grocery store called the Eye Street Bridge Market.

John joined the California National Guard in 1950 at age 14. Enlisted in the US Marines in 1953 at the young age of 17. After basic, he deployed to Korea serving in the First Marine Division Infantry as a machine gunner. After 17 months, John returned stateside in early 1955. John’s military services included member of the Military Police in Port Chicago, CA as a Special Weapons Currier, Marine Corps Rifle and Pistol Team as a shooter, returned overseas with the 3rd Marine Division to Okinawa, Japan, went to the Red Sea and Philippines and back to the Persian Gulf returning state side in 1959.

In 1963 John was called back to join the Marine Corps at the age of 28 and was sent to Viet Nam for the first of 4-tours. His companions in Viet Nam gave him his moniker D.J. It was a Swede for Minnesota who respectfully told John the meaning of this nickname, DJ or “Dirty John”. Severely wounded in 1967 he transferred to Tripler US Army Hospital in Hawaii where he would spend the next 22 months recovering from his injuries. His last tour was at Millington Naval Air Station near Memphis, TN retiring in 1970. During Johns dedicated service to this country he was the recipient of many honors and awards with his most recognized accolades being the recipient of FIVE PURPLE HEARTS. Immediately following retirement DJ moved to Fargo ND. He attended college at North Dakota State University, Fargo ND. John married Patricia Kukowski of Beach ND and two boys were born of this union, David Paul and Nicolas Guerrero.

In the course of his life in Fargo, DJ has met many fine people and worked with a host of enlightening individuals. His involvement in the Fargo community crossed many arenas. He owned his own insurance agency for 9 years. D.J’s involvement and volunteer work with the Special Olympics began in 1997. The State Summer Games moved to Fargo because of the flood in Grand Forks forcing that entire city to evacuate including the host site of the State Summer Games. With three weeks to put the six-sport, two-day event together, Special Olympics needed three hundred volunteers, equipment, and food. D.J jumped at the challenge and became our number one volunteer. He was honored that year with special recognition at the State Awards Banquet for his hard work and tenacity and the only one ever given out – the Angel Award. Since 1997, D.J has spent countless hours doing whatever is necessary to make sure that the State Games run smoothly, helping with several aspects.

John was a dedicated Bison fan and spirited NDSU sports team volunteer. He enjoyed many years volunteering for the USA wrestling tournament held at the Fargo Dome, Fridays every fall were devoted to Team Makers luncheons at the Holiday Inn, Fargo and most recently, he directed his time and effort to include the NDSU women’s basketball team.

DJ was grateful to the folks he met that treated him well and brought fullness to his life. The compassion, thoughtfulness, and goodwill of the people in the area has been appreciated and he wishes blessings upon each and every one. He especially enjoyed his friendship with his tailgating buddies, Sharon Goldsmith is to be mentioned because of her unwavering friendship and devotion and lastly cousin Kathy Valdez who was a constant companion throughout his entire life.

In his retirement, he enjoyed working with Father William Sherman in researching and documentation on North Dakota ethnic history from which several books were collaborated.
Member of ND Special Olympics, USA Wrestling out of Colorado Springs CO, NDSU Teammaker, NDSU Alumni Association, Life Member DAV, VFW, Marine Corps Association, First Marine Division Association, Second and Third Marine Association, Kiwanas, Member of the AmVets, Volunteer VA Hospital, Reunion Committee member for the prior listed Marine Divisions.

Survived By: Brother Raymond Olvera, West Sacramento, CA; Sisters: Mary Erler (Bill), Honolulu, HI and Lisa Parrish, Orlando, FL; Sons: David Guerrero and Nicolas Guerrero.

Preceded in death by parents Hope and Lupe Olvera, and biological father Ben Guerrero. As well as his dear cousin Kathy Valdez.

Memorials are preferred to the ND State Special Olympics

Prayer Service will be Friday evening, Aug. 12, 2016 at 7pm Boulger Funeral Home Fargo ND with visitation from 5-7pm.

Funeral service will be held Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016 at 10am with visitation 1 hour prior at St. Anthony at Padua Catholic Church, Fargo ND.


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28 responses to “John “D.J.” Guerrero”

  1. dan deutsch says:

    DJ: always cheerful and optimistic… Dedicated loyal Bison fan and friend. I remember him roasting whole pigs at the Newman Center during the 70s. He did massive amounts of sociology of ND ethnic groups research with his dear friend Fr William Sherman.

  2. Paul Bannerman says:

    dj I always enjoyed our chats in the store. your passion for NDSU was unmatched. It was a pleasure to have gotten to know you more over the last 10 years. May you rest in peace. Go Bison!

  3. Judy Paulson says:

    D.J. What a loyal, dedicated Bison fan and good friend to many of the athletic teams at NDSU.I enjoyed getting to know you at tail gating and the pleasure of sitting with you in Frisco. Rest in peace. You now have the best seat in the house. Sure will miss seeing you at Bison events. Judy

  4. Dorothy Schneider says:

    I have known DJ since 1966 when he was patient of mine at Tripler Army Medical Center
    in Honolulu, Hawaii. He was one tough Marine and not too sure he wanted to take orders
    from a army captain who was his occupational therapist. But some where along the way
    we developed a friendship that the world to me. It was the book on The History of North
    Dakota that got him interested in coming to Fago, ND. He was avery special person
    and I will miss him. Oh there are so many stories I could tell about him.

  5. Mary Harles-Campbell Moorhead MN says:

    DJ, you will be missed by myself and the staff at the Holiday Inn. Never a time I saw DJ without a smile on his face and a hug from his heart….His stories of Vietnam and the pride he had serving our country will long be remembered. True Bison fan and true hero in my eyes….God Speed DJ

  6. Mike Borgen says:

    John: I will miss our chats about the bison, Vietnam and any topic that came up while we were waiting to go in for dialysis at six o’clock in the morning. You were such a kind man and very generous with your time and energy for many different causes as you walked through your journey on this earth. I can’t thank you enough for being my friend. I learned so much about the military and living life after being wounded in combat. You were a hero and inspiration to everyone that came into contact with you. Just think John, no more pain and no more needles being stuck in your arms 3 times a week. Oh happy day!

  7. KEITH MYERS says:


  8. Lenny Myers says:

    There are special people whom we meet as we journey through life, and are instantly on our top list. It’s as if we have known them forever. The common bonds of faith, hope, and charity are never lost or demolished. DJ was ALWAYS ready to help. Our mutual buddy, “Chesty” would have been proud. Semper Fi DJ.

  9. Paul L. Whitney says:

    Long before the Clint Eastwood character in “Gran Torino”, Fargo had D.J. Guerrero. He was a true American hero.. From humble California origins this “old school” patriot wore many hats. He went in the Marines as a teen and saw action during the 1956 Suez crisis, 1958 Lebanon invasion and served 4 tours in Vietnam. When he left Hawaii hospitals he come to Fargo in 1970. On his first day he met the mayor, NDSU president and his longtime friend Fr. William Sherman. From the 1980’s until recently he visited my high school history classes in Casselton and Breckenridge. With over 200 pieces of shrapnel in his body he lived with pain daily. He told kids that no one hates war more than a veteran. He gave countless hours to Special Olympics, wrestling, veterans and co-authored several books. I wrote “Prairie Peddlers” with him and Fr. Sherman. Rest in peace!

  10. Molly 'Sletten' Tabery says:

    I met D.J. while I was working for NDSU Team Makers. I will always be grateful at how welcoming he was to me right away. I sat at almost every Team Maker Luncheon with him while I worked for Team Makers and he also generously gave me football tickets more than once. I loved seeing his loyalty to NDSU sports and was sure to stop by his tailgating spot to say “hi” after I moved away from Fargo. I am sad I never got to say goodbye to him, but I hope he is at peace. I know he will still be cheering on the Bison from above. RIP D.J. and thank you for all of your kindness to me.

  11. Fr. James Cheney - Director - NDSU Newman Center says:

    DJ worked with the college students a lot after Vietnam with Fr. Sherman here at the NDSU Newman Center – he loved it and I think it brought him some healing after the horrors of war. He was a tremendous patriot who served his country with distinction by being a multiple recipient of the purple heart – I’m forever grateful for his service to the country our community and the NDSU Newman Center. I will miss him a lot and he’ll always have a forever spot of gratefulness in my heart. I’m thankful to God for the witness of his life.

    Rest in Peace

    May the Angels lead you into paridise

  12. Sandy Huseby says:

    Vaya con Dios, old friend

  13. Gary Arth says:

    Rest in Peace Brother, we will all miss you.

  14. Roger Berg says:

    “Once a Marine, always a Marine”. Semper Fi DJ, till we meet again

  15. DeeJae (Rodunce) Harlow says:

    I don’t remember when or where I first met D.J., sometime in the ’70s. The greeting was always the same no matter how long it had been between seeing each other – “Hi, D.J.”, “Hi, DeeJae.” Now it’s time for me to say “Bye, D.J.” I will miss your smile. Fargo will not be the same without you; you were almost an institution.

  16. Philip M. Henry and Sally McCravey says:

    Through our shared interest in, and support of Special Olympics North Dakota, we have known D.J. since we first came to ND in early 1999. D.J. was a special soul, and we always enjoyed his company. He will be greatly missed.

  17. Merry Helm says:

    DJ was a treasure. His sly sense of humor, his amazing stories, his resources — all were so generously shared with the people lucky enough to be in his path. We shared a deep interest in the military history of the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and he was quick to share what he learned. I’m deeply grateful that we had breakfast just a couple weeks ago, when he was eager to give me a copy of the new book The Frozen Chosen, which he devoured in two days. The most amazing thing about him was his ability to rise above the considerable suffering he endured as a child and as a Marine. He emerged from his travails with a savage wit and twinkling eyes, and he refused to feel sorry for himself. I admired you, my friend, and I will keep watch over your story so it never disappears.

  18. DEBRA ANDERSON says:

    the holiday inn family will miss seeing John at all the NDSU events. rest in peace my friend.

  19. Vince Dicks , Adjutant, DAV Chapter 1, Fargo says:

    On behalf of Francis J. Beaton, Chapter 1 of the Disabled American Veterans, DJ will be greatly missed by our group. DJ was always there for Brats and Hot Dog Sales, helped with our pancake breakfasts and always a solid supporter of everything we did despite his health. He always brought a smile and made us laugh during events no matter how he was feeling. A highly decorated and deserving Marine. During his service to our country, he gave a lot and we are so grateful for his service. Rest in Peace Marine.

  20. Kandy Hazard says:

    I meet D.J. through Father Sherman while I was taking a class. He was a cheerful person and I tried to get him to do a lecture later at Ft. Ransom State Park. At the time we met he was working on some glass plate photos that were found and I believe a diary he had found. I have often wondered if his enthusiasm and curiosity led him to finding what he was looking for. Thanks for the laughter and smiles. Blessings on D. J and his family and friends.

  21. Pam Burkhardt says:

    He had so much information about the collaboration with Father William Sherman about the years he helped document the vernacular architecture of predominately German-Russian buildings in North Dakota.He was more than willing to answer our questions.

  22. Jakki Onsum & family says:

    Our family grew up across the street from DJ and his family for 40 yrs. We have a lot of memories during those years. I am 4ever grateful of his friendship and helping hand with my mom, Kathy. I cherish his wonderful words and stories of their trips to Dickinson and research on our military family in N.D.,after she recently passed away. I have recently moved from Arizona back to my childhood home across the street from DJ again. I was blessed to have been able to see his smiling face and “across the street” waves. I helped him bring in groceries into his home- he was soo excited to show me his research and his 5 purple hearts and metals hanging on his wall. As much as he will be missed-Heaven has gained a wonderful man! I know my mom will show him all the great things up there! Rest in Peace Neighbor!

  23. Patrick Parrish says:

    To me John will always be known as my favorite Uncle John. He was the toughest and yet kindest person I’ve ever known. I remember when he got out of the hospital and came to visit us in Oklahoma, he was still pretty banged up but always had a smile on his face. As a kid, I always loved it when I got to see Uncle John. I would listen to the stories he would tell me for hours on end. He was Rambo well before there ever was a Hollywood Rambo. I am fortunate to have been able to have some long talks with him on the phone in the years before he passed away. I wish I’d had an opportunity to see him again before he passed. I will dearly miss my Uncle.

    Semper Fi Uncle John

  24. Bill Kiefer says:

    DJ was an outstanding member of the world we live in. May he RIP!

  25. Peter N Weingarten, MSG, USA(R) says:

    As a young college student in the early 1970’s, DJ and I went round after round about the Vietnam War. Though he was still healing from war wounds, he showed wonderful restraint and patience during our many volleys. Suffice to say, DJ was a major influence on me and my subsequent 26-year career in the US Army. Each time we ran into each other, he was always proud and supportive of my decision to serve in the military. And, I always felt we were kindred spirits. So, when I read in his obit that he was born on St. John the Baptist’s (birthday) feast day and named after that saint, the “feeling” was confirmed. My confirmation “Soldier of Christ” name is St. John the Baptist. May you rest in the Peace of Christ my old friend, brother in Our Lord Jesus and comrade-in-arms!

  26. Ron Samuelson says:

    Worker with John at Purolator Courier. He was a great guy. Sorry I couldn’t have been there.

  27. B.K.Lilja says:

    I find it a bleaker world with D.J. gone. Various adventures and (mis)adventures in the early 70s. Escapades with the NDSU vets and a sure and certain knowledge that I was in the company of one of the largest hearts and greatest souls put on this Earth. Though too many years have passed since we sat down over a brew, reviewed the then-current state of the world and reasoned out many practical and no-so-practical solutions, he remains a delightful and valued friend — now in memory burning bright. ‘Til we meet again.

  28. Bob Darby says:

    “Through these fields of destruction
    Baptisms of fire
    I witnessed your suffering
    As the battle raged higher
    And though they did not hurt me so bad
    In the fear and alarm
    You did not desert me
    My brother(s) in arms . . . ”

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