Share Your Story

 

As part of constructing the South Dakota World War II Memorial, we want to preserve the stories of South Dakotans during that period. Please share with us a story of your experience during that time.

 

Eric C. Jacobsen

Eric was a major in the U.S. Army.

Submitted 8/16/01

 

Edmund S. Jacobsen

Edmund served in the Army Air Corps in World War II.

Submitted 8/16/01

 

Gale M. Grinager

Gale served in the U.S. Army as a Staff Sergeant from May 3, 1944 to July 9, 1946.

Submitted 8/16/01

 

Lorne M. Nestrud

Lorne entered active duty on June 1, 1942 and was relieved from active duty on December 20, 1945.  He served in the European/African Campaign and the Middle Eastern Theaters of Operation.  He received the Purple Heart.  He achieved the rank of Captain with his service to Company C. 376th Infantry, 94th Division.

Submitted 8/16/01

 

Williard S. Grow

Williard was with the 506th Bomb Group in Italy with the U.S. Army Air Corps.

Submitted 8/16/01

Kenneth Linn

Kenneth was a 1st Lieutenant with the Army Air Corps.  He was a B-24 pilot and flew over 40 missions in the Pacific Theatre.

Submitted 8/16/01

 

Harold W. Wiese

Harold was a Coxswain in the U.S. Navy.  He served on board the USS Bridge and USS Arctic.

Submitted 8/16/01

 

Gerald Gaulke

Gerald was drafted and sent to Jefferson, Missouri for training.  He served in the Air force as a top tourit gunner on a B-17.  He served in England until the end of World War II.

Submitted 8/17/01

James Higgins

James served on the USS Ancor as a radio operator.

Submitted 8/17/01

 

Lucille D. Jans

Lucille served in the Navy Waves from 1943 to 1946.  She was honorably discharged as a Chief Yeoman. 

Submitted 8/17/01

 

Harold Jans

Harold served in the U.S. Navy as a second class gunner aboard the Aircraft Carrier, the Bon Homme Pichard, with the Third Fleet.

Submitted 8/17/01

 

Robert F. Phillips

Robert was drafted on June 17, 1943 and served until November, 1945.  He served with 110th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division in Europe.

Submitted 8/17/01

 

Base E. Phillips

Basil enlisted in the Navy on September 1936 and was discharged In October 1945.

Submitted 8/17/01

Margaret E. Tarpley

Margaret served in the WAVES in the U.S. Navy.

Submitted 8/17/01

Darrell Leslie Marks

Darrell was inducted into the army at Ft Snelling, MN on May 19 1945.  He was transferred to Jefferson Barracks in St Louis MO, then onto Camp Walters, Mineral Wells, TX where he completed his 3 months basic training.   In August, 1945, he was transferred to Camp Hood, TX where he completed his advanced sniper training.  In September, 1945, he was transferred to Ft Ord, CA for duty to the Pacific.  While on maneuvers contracted blood poisoning and couldn’t go to the Pacific but instead was sent to Camp Pickett, VA for duty to Europe.   He sailed across the Atlantic in military transport and landed at Lucky Strike Lehavv France.  In February, 1946, once landed in France, he was assigned as a Military Police to transport general American GI prisoners to a US Military Command Post in Wurzburg, Germany.   In May-June 1946, while in France, he joined the regular Army as you were given a date out if you enlisted.  He then became a Sergeant T5.   He was shipped to Bremen Haven Germany then onto Ft Dix NJ and honorably discharged in November 1946.

Submitted 8/19/01

 

Maurice Wika

Maurice was a Lieutenant in the 131st AAA Gun Battalion with 3rd, 9th, & 1st Armies in Europe including the Battle of the Bulge, the liberation of Paris and was responsible for guarding (captured) Germany SS troops at Berchtesgaden, Germany.

Submitted 8/17/01

 

Floyd C. Short, Jr.

Floyd enlisted in the US Navy January 10, 1942. Having a Brother whom had survived the attack on Pearl Harbor this was the thing he had to do. He took my Boots in San Diego. After Boot Camp, he was transferred to an Aviation "A" school at Great Lakes, IL and Detroit MI. After the school he was transferred to an Aviation "B" school in Chicago, IL where he specialized in Hydraulics and Rigging. In December of 1942 he was assigned to Torpedo Squadron 9 of Air Group 9. In January of 1942 they went aboard a brand new Aircraft Carrier, CV9 the USS Essex After a shake down cruise they went through the Panama Canal and into the Pacific. Their first mission in the Pacific was the raid on Marcus Island, which is only 989 miles from Japan, after which came the raid on Wake Island. On Armistice Day, November 11, 1943, was a big show for us. The whole fleet got the see most of the action

It was the raid on Rabaul Harbor. Besides the damage to Japanese shipping in the harbor, Air Group 9 set a record of shooting down 62 aircraft while loosing only two of ours. We got both of our pilots’ back. Then it was on to the Gilbert Islands and Tarawa. Then came the raid on Kwajalein and the occupation of the Marshall Islands. It was here that they joined Task Force 58. In February 1944 we were in on the First Raid on Truk Island and later the first Raid on Saipan. In March 1944 they were ordered back home to go into dry dock for 30 days. When he got back to the ship after 15 days leave he had been transferred off of the Carrier along with the rest of the Air Group. His new orders were to go to Carrier Aircraft Service Unit # 4 on the Puninia Navel Air Station on the Island of Maui in Hawaii where he stayed until the war ended. He was discharged on November 11,1945.

Submitted 8/19/01

 

Donald E. Short

Donald enlisted in the Navy in the summer of 1941. He had gone to California to seek work and wound up in the Navy. He took his boots in San Diego and was sent to Sub Base in Pearl Harbor right after Boot Camp. He spent the next three years plus servicing the U S Navy’s Sub Fleet in the Pacific. He survived the attack on Pearl Harbor. Most of the Japanese Aircraft came in right over the Sub Base to get at the Ships in the Harbor. Late in the War he was transferred to the Sub Base in New London, CT.

Submitted 8/19/01

 

Loyal Christopherson

Loyal was a PFC and a machine gunner.  He came back on the Queen Elizabeth after serving in the European Theater.  Some war stories we were told like, I saluted General Eisenhower, and we stuffed straw in our boots to keep our feet warm. Many years later, he was awarded the Bronze Star. 

Submitted 8/19/01

 

Fred, Donald, Herbert and Joyce Harms

Mr. and Mrs. Harms have three sons and a daughter in the army, and all are graduates of Tripp High School. Cpl. Fred H. Harms entered the army in January 1942, and left the United States in September 1943, for Ireland.  He went from England to France and was in the invasion on D-Day.  Sgt. Herbert Harms entered the army in August 1942, and has been located in all parts of the United States.  Lt. Donald Harms entered the army in October 1942, and left the United States in January 1944, for Hawaii, and is now in New Guinea.  Miss Joyce Harms is a cadet nurse and entered in June 1944.  Mr. and Mrs. Harms received word from the war department March 10 of the death of their oldest son, Sgt. Fred Harms, 30.  The notice stated he was killed in action February 27.  He was a member of a reconnaissance group.  He had just been awarded the Purple Heart for wounds on his hands when a booby trap exploded while he was on patrol duty in Germany.  Apparently he recovered sufficiently to return to action on the German front and then lost his life.  Mr. and Mrs. Henry Harms received word their son Lt. Donald had been killed in action in Luzon.  A few months ago they received a similar message telling of the death of another son Fred in France.  This is a double blow for this family and one can well imagine their grief.  Another son is expected home this week.  His outfit is about ready for overseas service.  Donald received the Purple Heart for wounds received in action east of Olongapo.  He recovered from his wounds and was back in action when he was killed.  Lt. Harms was a platoon leader of Company F, 152nd Infantry, and saw action in his regiment’s 16-day battle for strategic and heavily fortified Zig Zag Pass, east of Olongapo, which opened another route to Manila.  He was with the 38th (cyclone) Division on Luzon.  He also received the Asia-Pacific ribbon with three Bronze Stars and a Bronze Arrowhead and the Philippine ribbon with two bronze stars.  These ribbons were awarded to him prior to March 21.  While stationed at Luzon, Don contracted Dangue fever and was hospitalized.  He recovered after two weeks, and was sent back into active duty until his death.  

Submitted 8/19/01

 

Grandon E. Tolstedt

Grandon served in the U.S. Army, the 104th Infantry Division, which fought in Belgium, Holland, and Germany.  He was wounded in action November 20, 1944.  He was discharged in August 1946.

Submitted 7/27/01

 

Byron O. Brekke

Byron served in the U.S. Navy, from September 1943 to August 1945.

Submitted 8/19/01

 

Ellis B. Brekke

Ellis served in the U.S. Marines, from May 1946 to June 1947.

Submitted 7/27/01

 

Elvera L. Janke

Elvera served in the war as nurse during the war.

Submitted 7/27/01

 

Everett Francis Wendt

Everett was sworn in with the U.S. Army at Fort Smelling, Minnesota on August 14, 1944.  He served in the 10th Mountain Division in the Italy area in 1945.

Submitted 7/27/01

 

Robert D. Klatt

Robert served in the Navy, Occupation Forces in Japan.

Submitted 7/27/01

 

Robert Lee Darlow

Robert served in the Airforce.  He was drafted in August 1941 and served 25 years or longer.  He retired as a Master Sargent. 

Submitted 8/19/01

 

William Monrad Swenson

William served in WW II.

Submitted 7/27/01

 

Rolland (Rol) E. Kebach

Rolland served in war service.  He served from January 1, 1942 to June 1, 1943, in Anchorage and Nome, Alaska, 81st Field Artillery (Cpl. Communications).  From June 10, 1943 to November 1, 1944, he served at Camp Hale, Colorado, 10th Mountain Division – 605 Field Artillery (Communications Chief).  From November 15, 1944 to August 20, 1945, Roland was in Italy with the 10th Mountain Division (Communications Chief/Acting Communications Officer).  He was awarded the Bronze Star U.S. Army, Military Action in Italy.

Submitted 8/19/01

 

Leonard Lange

Leonard was a first wave veteran on the D-Day invasion.

Submitted 7/27/01

Merton Glover

He was in the service 4 years, 9 months, 20 days.  He was drafted for 1 year of service.  He picked up the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, and 5 campaign ribbons across Europe.

Submitted 8/19/01

Fourth Cavalry Association

The 4th Cavalry Regiment stationed at Ft. Meade for 23 years prior to shipping out to E.T.O., December 12, 1943.  The 4th Cavalry was originally comprised of men from North and South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa.  Elements of 4th landed on Isle’s San Marcouf off Normandy Coast on two hours minus “H” hour.  The remainder landed D-Day June 6, 1944.  The 4th Calvalry Group crossed Europe, all five campaigns and met the Russians on the Elbe River.  Some troops took 90% casualties.

Roster of KIA from South Dakota

Collins, Wayne C.            Sioux Falls
Elveseater, Anton I.          Presho
Hennings, Harold             Sioux Falls
Johnson, Alfred B            Brandt
Anderson, Arvid C.                     
Bird Horse, William H.
Chmela, Earl F.
Cooper, Charles H.
DeBoise, Glen S.
Foos, Charles W.
Foster, Leslie W.
King, Alvin I.
Knute, Myhren

Roster of South Dakotans Who Returned Home (4th Cavalry)

Henry Smith               Hermosa
Fred Smith                 Hermosa
Verlin Hunt                 Custer
William Gould            Custer
Ronald Hacker           Iona
Charlie Thompson     Iona
Lyn Lyman                  Murdo
Albert Joyce               Wall
Leo Gage                   Dupree
Lloyd Warnock           Deadwood
Martin Parker
Arthur G. Ring             Norris
Arnold F. Davis          Chamberlain
Gottlieb Pfeifle            Mobridge
Norman Peterson       Huron
Ray Potter                  Clark
Homer Red Eyes       Kyle
June M. Sundstrom   Mud Butte
Owen Last Horse      Allen
Harold A. Orr             Spearfish
Walter J. Scales        Plankinton

Submitted 7/30/01

Ralph E. Trople

Ralph served in New Caledonia and was discharged February 10, 1946.

Submitted 7/30/01

 

Floyd “Kid” Trople

Floyd was killed on April 18, 1945, in Italy. He is buried at the American Cemetery in Florence, Italy.

Submitted 7/30/01

A Little Story behind the Official Missing Air Crew Report

During a visit to the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach on the coast of Normandy, I chose a headstone to stop by and rest for a while.  The almost 10,000 headstones each representing a young life lost was a rivetingly somber sight.  The name of a First Lieutenant killed on May 14, 1944 was engraved simply and starkly.  It read First Lieutenant Lester Weiss, Serial Number 0-789843.  It also gave his Bomber Group and his Squadron Group.  He was probably the same age or even younger than I was during that time.  I was far luckier studying Japanese on a college campus.  I wondered if I could get beyond the name on the headstone and learn something of that young man who was one of the many casualties.  I wrote to various agencies hoping to find some details about his personal life from available military records.  I have attached a remarkable file generously copied for me by Captain Sergio J. Lopez Chief, Air Force Historical Research Agency.

Let me give you a bit of background on this particular mission from an 8th Air Force history book.  The bomber on which First Lieutenant Weiss served as a Navigator was part of a large force of bombers whose mission on May 11, 1944, was to bomb railroad marshalling yards located in Troyes, France, as part of a pre-invasion operational program.  The 487th Bomb Group “trespassed”(that was the official designation; I thought it was a rather benign description) into a heavy flak area over Chateaudun and caused much damage.  The raid had to be abandoned.  The plane, a B-24 Liberator which had a crew of ten, on which First Lieutenant Weiss served, was hit and crash-landed.  The pilot and co-pilot escaped from the plane, which exploded, on the ground as well as another crewman who bailed out.  The seven others perished.

Reading this account gives one a vivid sense of the human faces behind the official records.  The next-of-kin listing mothers, fathers, and wives from all parts of our country give a little clue into how ten ordinary American households were touched.  I believe the drama of what happened on that the almost prosaic reporting heightens day in May 1944.  These ten as well as so many others deserve if nothing else our humble remembrance.

Crew Members:
Captain Edward Brodsky, Pilot               Newell, South Dakota
Captain John Roberts, Co-Pilot               Trenton, New Jersey
2/Lt. Lee Johnson                                      Riverside, California
1/Lt. Lester Weiss                                     Yonkers, New York
1/Lt. Thomas Pearce                                New Holland, Ohio
T/Sgt. Walter Simoni                                 Wireton, Pennsylvania
T/Sgt. Clifford Nance                                 Plano, Texas
S/Sgt. William Murphy                              Skaneateles, New York
S/Sgt. Elton Tollett                                     Nashville, Arkansas
S/Sgt. Bronis Lipskas                               Boston, Massachusetts

Inscription on Memorial to the
487th Bomb Group
Eighth Air Force Museum
Savannah, Georgia
I remember you, my young brothers,
As we were, as it was
This is the resting-place of our memory
As it always will be.”

Submitted 8/19/01

Edward Brodsky

Captain Edward Brodsky is with home folks again since Monday, when his parents, Mr. and Mrs. J.C. Brodsky, met him at Rapid City.  He has 60 days in which to enjoy a visit in his old home and recuperate from his unpleasant experiences in Germany.  Shot down from a Liberator bomber of which he was the pilot, luckily one of only two survivors from a crash landing; spending over 11 months in different Nazi prisons.   Finally, on April 4, escaping with two other men; then traveling for a period of 12 days to reach the U.S. Army front (hiding during the daytime and traveling at night, during which time they subsisted almost entirely on raw potatoes dug from the fields).  Covering a total distance of some 75 miles in reaching the American lines.

Highlighting the good news, which has developed since our last issue is the information, contained in the following telegram received Tuesday by Mr. and Mrs. J.C. Brodsky from the U.S. War Department:  “Report just received through the International Red Cross states that your son, Captain Edward J. Brodsky, is a prisoner of war of the German government.”

On May 24th a laconic message came from the War Department say that Capt. Brodsky was “missing in action May 11th over France.”  Anxiety over the boy’s fate has since been intense, and now the fond hope that he might have parachuted to safety behind the enemy lines has been fulfilled.

Edward enlisted three years ago on June 15, 1941.  After an intensive training period as a B-24 (Liberator) bomber pilot, he was assigned to a bomber base in England in March of this year.  He had completed a number of successful missions over enemy territory with his crew before the big plane was shot down over France.

Eyewitness Report:

The following is the description of S/Sgt. Reetz, a member of a crew flying in the low squadron.

Lt. Brodsky’s plane, which was flying no. 2 in the lead squadron, left the formation, sheering off to the right, with the no. 3 engine on fire and flames streaming back into the wing.  About 15 seconds later it was below the formation and descending at an angle of approximately 45 degrees; it seemed that the pilot was still in control of the plane.  The fire had spread over the command deck.

About half a minute later there was apparently an internal explosion.  The left wing (not the one on fire) broke off and hung to the fuselage; the tail broke and hung about at the waist windows, and the nose broke off about at the flight deck, hung for a few seconds, and then dropped, about the same time as the tail.  By this time flames had spread over the remaining part of the plane.

About this time a splotch of white appeared at about the waist window.  It was difficult to distinguish but had the appearance of a streaming, unopened parachute with the person wearing it not yet free of the plane.  No person, however, was actually seen. 

Later I saw the remains of the plane burning on the ground.  There was no sign of any survivors nor did I see any parachute, either on the ground or in the air in the vicinity.

This was taken from a questionnaire of crash.  The order to bail out was not given as an attempt was being made to save bombs and thus return to England on remaining two engines.

After the crash he and several other crew members were trapped in radio compartment due to the escape hatch being jammed and the passage between the pilot seats being impassable because of the inter crossing of armor plating.  Weiss was uninjured after crash.  I asked him to hand me the crash axe, which he said he couldn’t find.  Brodsky and I then tried unsuccessfully to put out several fires, which broke out on each wing.  It spread swiftly until we were compelled to fall back, after which the tanks exploded engulfing an area of some thirty or forty feet in flames.  Lt. Weiss died when the gasoline tanks exploded. 

After the crash Brodsky and I started to run for a distant stand of trees but were immediately picked up by a German patrol in a truck.  They too us back to the vicinity of the burning aircraft then after awhile drove us to a village about a quarter of a mile away.  We stopped and a group of excited French town’s people directed our attention to a small pick up or delivery truck.  The said “comrade”, so both Brodsky and I jumped out of our truck when we saw someone inside, it turned out to be Tollett who was unconscious and moaning and appeared to be seriously injured.

I immediately ordered them to get him to a doctor the best I could in the little French I knew.  They comprehended what I wanted and two men jumped in the truck and drove off in the direction of Chateaudon.  That is the last we ever saw of Sgt. Tollett.  I suppose he must have died in a German hospital.  I endeavored to find out more about him after I was taken to Frankfort, Germany for interrogation.  However I was unsuccessful.  I believe Tollett must have been thrown from the plane after we first hit the ground and that a short time later he was found by the French and taken to the above-mentioned village. 

Submitted by his wife