In Memory of
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
July 13, 1925 -- December 25, 1944
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
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
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
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.