In Memory of
Navy, SIC/ S2C
Ross Helmer Apland
November 13, 1922 -January 3,1944
Killed in Action in Bari, Italy
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
died at the age of 21 years and 2 months; he had not married or had children.
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.
I, Kali Lamp, 7th grade,
Mickelson Middle School, Brookings, South Dakota,
respectfully submit this information about Ross Apland. Information for this
was provided by Duane Apland, brother of Ross, of Tuscon, Arizona, and Isabelle
Apland, sister-in-law of Ross, of Brookings, SD.