In Memory Of
U.S. Army Technician Fourth Grade
Leo Bestgen
Sturgis, South Dakota
Meade County
November 5, 1916 – June 5, 1943
Killed in Action in Algiers, North Africa

Leo Bestgen

Leo Bestgen was born November  5, 1916, at Whitewood, South Dakota. His mother and father were John and Jessie Bestgen; he had two brothers, Philip and Steve Bestgen, and five sisters: Justine Bruch, Connie Gray, Veronica Bogner, Patricia McDermott, and Elizabeth Bestgen. Leo attended rural schools and St. Martin’s Academy in Sturgis, South Dakota, from where he graduated with honors. Before joining the service, he worked as a carpenter. Leo was considered “a fine, honest, hardworking and with the same spirit gave up his life for his country,” according to the Sturgis Tribune.

On December 21, 1940, he joined the National Guards. He was inducted into federal service on February 10, 1941. He was in Combat BN 34 DIV 109th Engineers, landing in Algiers, North Africa, in November of 1942. He then oversaw carpenter work in his company. The men who worked with him were preparing for the Allied-landing onslaught in North Africa, building roads and bridges for the troops to follow.

While in action in Algeria, Army National Guardsman T-4 Leo Bestgen was killed on June 5, 1943, by a “butterfly bomb” while trying to dismantle it. Leo was the first soldier to be killed from Meade County. He was buried at Plot I, Row 20, Grave 8, North Africa American Cemetery in Carthage, Tunisia.

This entry was respectfully submitted by Nicole Fonder, 8th Grade West, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota, February 8, 2000. Information for this entry was provided by Philip and Darlene Bestgen, Whitewood, South Dakota, brother and sister-in-law of Army National Guard T-4 Leo Bestgen, and the Sturgis Tribune, 6/24/43 issue.