U.S. Army Private First Class
Harold A. Belson
Elkton, South Dakota
October 29, 1923 – March 5, 1945
Killed in Action Northern Front in Germany
War Is Hell the headlines
of the nation’s newspapers read, including The Elkton Record in the year
Harold Belson was born on October
29, 1923 at Elkton. His parents were Clyde Belson and Ethel Mae. His father
was born in 1891 and came from upper New York State in 1905 to reside in Elkton,
SD. His mother was born during 1892 in the Elkton area.
Thirteen men from the Elkton, SD
area gave their lives in WWII. These men were F.V. Karstens, Emery V. Risch,
Francis Chrystal, William Cassidy, George H. Haley, John M. Gebhart, Marvin D.
Risch, Earl Bolte, Donald Mangan, Harold Anderson, Eugene Belson, Lambert
Hegerfeld, and also among them was Private First Class Harold A. Belson.
The Belsons received a message
from the War Department announcing that their son PFC, Harold Belson, had been
killed in action in Germany on March 5, 1945. Belson was 21-years-old.
“Belson, Gebhart and the Risch
brothers were killed in the Crossing of the Rhine Battle (Germany),” said
Anastasia Gebhart, administrative assistant of the Elkton Museum and a long-time
Elkton area resident.
Belson entered the Army at Fort
Snelling and was sent from there to Camp Howse, TX for basic training that would
qualify him for the Army Air Corps.
Jack Hegerfeld, an Elkton area
resident, affirmed that Belson had been part of the Air Force Training program.
After training, Belson attended the Northwestern State College at Elva, OK for a
period of five months before going to San Antonio, TX for further training.
While there, he was transferred to the infantry, just as many others were, due
to the shortage of men in that division of the Army. Belson was sent to Camp
Polk, LA, for training before being shipped-out to England and later to eastern
France and Holland.
Harold Belson attended the Elkton
Public School until graduating in June 1941. There were 28 in this graduation
class of 1941.
During high school, Belson
played the trumpet in the school band all four years. Also, he portrayed Ed
Burns, a chemistry student in the Junior Class Play. In addition, Belson played
on the football team his junior year.
On December 18, 1939, a
record-breaking crowd gathered in St. Mary’s Hall to learn what happened when
Spring Fever hit Brookfield College, the scene of the Junior Class Play
directed by Miss Chester. This was one of the biggest events of the year for
the Junior Class members along with the Junior-Senior Banquet that was held on
May 2nd, at the Evangelical Church in Elkton, SD.
“They were a private family that
had an acreage on the north side of Elkton. In 1923, Clyde had a 23-acre
cabbage field and did other jobs around town…truck driving, too. Harold’s
mother, Ethel Mae, gave piano lessons. The war was a hard time. Things were in
short supply. Material to make dresses was hard to come by,” Gebhart said.
Belson had two sisters, Lois and
Maxine. Lois Belson, graduated from Elkton High School in 1940, one year before
Harold, and Maxine Belson graduated in 1949. Belson also had three brothers,
Eugene, Mervale, and Curtes.
Lois stayed in the Elkton area
while Maxine married and moved to California. Eugene also died in the war.
Clyde Belson died in 1968 and Ethel Mae died on May 21, 1980.
This information is respectfully submitted by Mary Jensen, seventh grade,
Mickelson Middle School, Brookings, SD, May 2002. Information for this profile
came from the following sources: Anastasia Gebhart, administrative assistant of
the Elkton Museum (2002). Jack Hegerfeld, a veteran and Elkton area resident
(2002).The Brookings Register, March 28, 1945 edition. The Elkton
Community History, 1879-1999. The 1941 Elkton Annual.