In Memory of
Navy, SIC/ S2C
Ross Helmer Apland
Brookings, SD
Brookings County
November 13, 1922 -January 3,1944
Killed in Action in Bari, Italy

 Ross Helmer Apland

Brown-haired, blue-eyed Ross Helmer Apland was born November 13, 1922 on a farm seven and a half miles west of Oldham, SD. He was the first-born son of Ellsworth and Louise (Casper) Apland. Ross had three younger brothers named Duane, Glen, and Morris, who were also born near Oldham, SD.

In 1929 Ross' dad had an opportunity to buy his uncle's farm one half mile to the west. The stock market crash of 1929, and the drought in the 1930s caused the Apland's to lose their farm, however they were able to live on the farm as renters until 1939.

While growing up, Ross and his brother rode Shetland ponies to school. Ross started grade school in 1928, and went to a one-room, brick, school called Drakola District 26. The students were taught by one teacher, who taught all school subjects, to all eight grades of students. Ross finished grade school in 1936 and planned on waiting two years to go to high school, so he could be in the same grade as his brother Duane. Ross stayed out of school to help the family on the farm until 1939, when he went to Brookings High School, after the family rented a different farm in Brookings County and moved. Ross wanted to play football, but his dad needed his help on the farm. 

In 1941, the war began and several high school students dropped out of school and joined the military. When the students came home on leave, Ross talked with them and decided that he too wanted to join the military. It was during Ross' junior year in high school that he convinced his dad to let him leave school to join the Navy.

Ross trained at Great Lakes Naval Station near Chicago, before being shipped out on a Merchant Ship from the East Coast. He spent a few days home on boot leave before his departure. He often sent letters home, but he never could say where he had been when he wrote. One time, when his ship was in for another load, he had a five-day leave and went home; he was home for a day and went back to his ship. That was the last time that Ross saw his family.

With ranks of Seaman 1st Class (SIC) and Seaman 2nd Class (S2C), Ross Apland served as a gunner in the United States Navy. On his fourth trip overseas, he was shot and wounded in the Mediterranean area. The wounds received at war led to his death January 3, 1944, in Bari, Italy. One of the citations Ross Apland was awarded was for courageous conduct as a member of the United States Navy Armed Guard, aboard the S.S. John Bascom in action against enemy aircraft, in the harbor of Bari, Italy.

Ross died at the age of 21 years and 2 months; he had not married or had children.

His body was returned from Italy in November of 1948, and a memorial service was held at First Lutheran Church in Brookings. Ross' friend, Franklin Duff, placed the gold star on the Church's Honor Roll for Servicemen. Ross is buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Brookings, SD.

Ross' brother, Duane, is the only brother still living, as Glen and Morris both died of heart attacks in 1997.

Ross with his father Ellsworth, and brothers Glen, Duane, and Morris.

Ross with his father Ellsworth, and brothers Glen, Duane, and Morris.

I, Kali Lamp, 7th grade, Mickelson Middle School, Brookings, South Dakota,
respectfully submit this information about Ross Apland. Information for this entry
was provided by Duane Apland, brother of Ross, of Tuscon, Arizona, and Isabelle
Apland, sister-in-law of Ross, of Brookings, SD.