In Memory of
Army Pvt.
Moneer Assam
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Minnehaha County
July 13, 1925 -- December 25, 1944
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Moneer Assam  Moneer Assam

Moneer Assam was born on July 13, 1925, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to Hamad and Helen Assam.  He attended Mark Twain Grade School and graduated from Washington High School in Sioux Falls.

As a child, Moneer became interested in marksmanship.  He became so proficient that he could throw numerous coins into the air and shoot them down with a .22 rifle before any hit the ground.  Once on the way from Sioux Falls to the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota, he shot 50 pheasants which was the limit for him and all the friends with him.  He also won many rifle tournaments and excelled with all types of guns, becoming a South Dakota Marksman Champion.

At age seventeen, Assam enlisted in the army without telling his father.  When his father found out what his son had done, he was furious, but he finally supported his sonís decision.

On August 23, 1944, Moneer was sworn into the armed forces at Ft. Snelling, Minnesota. He then began his basic training at Camp Blanding in Florida where he stayed for several months.  Here he also broke all of the pistol, rifle, and machine gun records.  At this time the Allied Forces in Europe were in desperate need of reinforcements to counter a German attack at the Battle of Bastogne in Belgium, and the army was forced to get troops from basic training camps.  While still in training, Assamís unit was called to war.  The commanders at Camp Blanding wanted Assam to remain there as an instructor, but he refused and insisted on fighting because he was such a skilled marksman.

Since Assamís unit would be going to war, the army commanders allowed the soldiers to go back home to spend Christmas with their families prior to leaving for Bastogne.  Before boarding one of three Air Force planes headed to South Dakota, Assam was asked to switch planes so another soldier could ride the same plane as his comrade.  Assam agreed, and along with about thirty other men, he boarded a transport flight back home where he would spend the holidays with his loving family.  However, on December 25, 1944, the three aircraft flew into a snowstorm over Chicago.  Two of the planes were rerouted to Minneapolis and landed safely, but Assamís plane was rerouted to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  This plane was very low on fuel as it approached the Harrisburg airport, which was located between mountain ravines.  The plane struck a tree, knocking out the engine and causing the airplane to crash into Roundtop Mountain.

This tragic plane wreck caused sixteen injuries and eleven deaths.  Of the eleven soldiers who died, seven were South Dakota natives; the deceased included Private Moneer Assam. Unaware of the tragedy, the Assam family was planning to celebrate Christmas dinner with Moneer upon his arrival in Sioux Falls. While they were waiting at home for him keeping dinner warm, a telegram was brought to their home informing the family of his death.

Private Moneer Assamís life and death will always be looked upon with respect and admiration.  He will always be remembered for his willingness to serve selflessly and for sacrificing his life for the love of his country.

Fallen Sons and Daughters of South Dakota in WWII

This entry was respectfully submitted by Nick Jackson and Darren Jankord, Tenth Grade, Sioux Falls Christian High School, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, April 5, 2002.  Information for this entry was provided by South Dakota Veterans Bonus Records, various newspaper articles, and most importantly by Dr. Sam Assam, Private Moneer Assamís younger brother and only living sibling.