Share Your Story

 

As part of constructing the South Dakota World War II Memorial, we want to preserve the stories of South Dakotans during that period. Please share with us a story of your experience during that time.

 

Martha Tieszen Maher

Martha was a First Lieutenant in the US Air Force Nurse Corps.

Submitted 6/12/01 

Edna L. Schlamann Wilkinson

Edna was a 1st Lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corps.

Submitted 6/12/01

 

Myrtle V. Sanders Schlamann

Myrtle was a 1st Lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corps.

Submitted 6/12/01

Donald Wayne Gardner

Donald was in the Navy as a Radio Man.  He was killed in action.

Submitted 6/11/01

 

Gerald Thomas Gardner

Gerald was a marine in World War II serving at Iwo Jima.

Submitted 6/11/01

 

Annabelle Larson Wright

Annabelle was a Navy nurse.  She was stationed on a hospital ship in the South Pacific.

Submitted 6/11/01

 

Ralph Burdette Traver

Ralph enlisted in the U.S. Army.  He served in Europe in the D-Day Invasion and the Battle of the Bulge.

Submitted 6/12/01

 

David L. Colombe

David is an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and received numerous honors while in the U.S. Army.  He received the Distinguished

Service Cross, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Presidential Unit Emblem, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with two Bronze Stars,  National WWII Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal with Germany Clasp, the Naitonal Defense Service Medal, the Korean service Medal with one silver and one Bronze service star, Expert Infantryman Badge, Combat Infantryman Badge, Honorable Service Lapel Button and the Sharpshooter Badge with Rifle Bar.  The following is a description of David’s participation in World War II.

“On November 26, 1944 in Germany, armed only with a trench knife, he leaped in to an enemy fox hole and single handly captured two Germans.  Securing a hostile auto rife, he worked his way behind the enemy lines killing seven Germans and wounded many more as they were attempting to withdraw.  His deadly fire demoralized the enemy force, resulting in the collapse of their defense.  Colombe has much of the blood of the original Americans running in his veins and this feat reflected not only great credit on the American Army but on the Sioux Nation as well.

Submitted 6/8/01

 

Eugene Earle Pugsley

Eugene served in the United States Navy as an Officer on the USS Accontis, primarily in the South Pacific.

Submitted by his daughter, 6/8/01

 

Jack Lessaard

Jack was a scout and radio operator under General George Patton in Africa. He was then shipped to England and was part of the second wave at Normandy.  He fought with his fellow soldiers all the way through France into Germany.  Jack stayed in Europe until the war was over. 

Submitted 6/11/01

 

Hugo Jacob Schnabel

Hugo spent four years in the South Pacific during World War II.

Submitted 6/8/01

 

Dick Noteboom

I was selected to go the Civilian Conservation Corps in June, 1933.  We were shipped from Pierre, SD to Ft. Meade, SD. There were two other boys from Murdo to go at the same time.  We were organized into companies and after a few days taken out to a camp in the Black Hills.  I was assigned to 1791 Company.  The camp location was West of Custer, SD.  Our work project was thinning timber stand.  We were dressed in Army uniforms left over from WWI.  Each man was issued a double bladed ax with a sharpening stone to keep it sharp.  I stayed eleven months.  The pay was $25.00 Per month, $20.00 was sent to folks, the enrollee got $5.00 in camp.  I was promoted to Asst. Leader for the last few months.  Also managed the camp canteen, candy bars, pop, gum, postage stamps, and writing materials.  Several of the boys came from the cities in the East.  This was great for them, they learned to work and were in the outdoors.  $20.00 went home for the of their parents.

U.S. ARMY, FOURTH U.S. CAVALRY, FT. MEADE, SD

I spent the summer of 1935 working as a farm hand for John Boesvelt on a farm two and one-half South and three miles West of Inwood, IA.  The winter of 1935-1936 I stayed with Uncle Bert and Aunt Anna, two miles North of Inwood.  During the winter I had decided to enlist in the U.S. Army. Uncle Bert being a WWI vet, he encouraged me.  I was called, accepted and sent to Ft. Meade, SD.  I was sworn in as a Recruit, in the grade of Private on March 30, 1936.  I was promoted to Private First Class before my enlistment expired.  March 30 1939 I reenlisted.  The war was beginning in Africa.  The U.S. was not getting involved and trying not to. The training was increased and men were being to duty for one year at the start.

December 6, 1941, Pearl Harbor Day—An unexpected attack by Japan on the U.S. Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  This was a Sunday.  Monday morning we were informed that our enlistments were extended for the duration and 6 months.  Civilian clothes were to be gotten rid of, shipped home or whatever.  Anyone found wearing any other than uniform was to be considered a deserter.  Congress declared war that day  December 8th, 1941.

January 20, 1942—We were shipped men & equipment by rail from Rapid City, SD to Indio, CA.  Camp Young, California, Desert training camp.  Unloaded our equipment off the train and proceeded to Camp Young in the Mojave Desert, South of the Jousha Tree National Monument.  This is an open desert area, cactus, sage brush, sand and rocks.  We lived in a tent city.  In January days can be warm, but nights are cold.  Our training and conditioning became more real.  General Patton”s army had trained here before going to Africa.  Here we were under field conditions.  No bear joints, hamburger or ice cream stands.  Food as much and of what were provided in the issue.  We learned to eat “C and K” rations.  Showers were taken at Shower Points along the Metropolitan Aqueduct.  The Metropolitan Aqueduct is the water supply for the City of Los Angeles.  The water comes from Parker Dam, water from the Colorado River.  Water was rationed and mother nature provided the heat.  When on a problem we had a one-quart canteen per day.  No ice water, so long as it was wet we were glad to get it.  In May we were moved farther out in the desert, Camp Coxcomb, near the Iron Mt. Pumping station.  June and July the day time temperature did reach 125 to 130 degrees.  We started our day early and had a two hour noon break.  There were weekend passes to L.A. and San Bernadino.  I went to San Bernadino once to visit cousins.  Late July we were loaded on a train at Rice Station, California a 

railroad stop out in the desert with a water tank and side tracks.  We shipped to Camp Maxey, Texas for firing of individual weapons and small arms in preparation for going overseas.  November found us on the move again.  We turned in our vehicles and small arms to Red River Ordnance Depot at Texarkana, Texas.  We were now soldiers without a weapon!  Only the higher-ups would know why.

Form Camp Maxey, Texas, we were shipped to Camp Shanka, NY.  This was by rail pullman cars and baggage cars.  The kitchen was set-up in a baggage car.  Meals were cooked and served in mess kits aboard.  Our trip lasted some three days.  Afterwards we were told we had traveled in Canada part of the time under cover of darkness.  At Camp Shanks we had our final processing for overseas it was to be Africa or England.  We were given a 6 hour pass New York City at least we had a look.  The day arrived for our departure, we loaded on train with our bags, darkness and taken to the docks of New York City, immediately put aboard ship in darkness and assigned our place below deck.  The ship hadd been to Argentina for a cargo of frozen beef, which was in the lower holds.  We had the upper decks.  We slept in hammocks.  (Slept hardly at all.  You had to be careful when turning over or it would flip you out.  Best you stayed on your back.)  The next morning early we were taken up on deck and assigned life boat stations.  The life jackets were given to us when we came aboard.  The life jacket was to be worn at all times.  We had our last look at the Statue of Liberty before down below again.  The ships were formed in a convoy.  Mostly Liberty ships carrying freight.  All ships traveled in convoy due to the threat of German submarines.  Destroyer escorts were out on the flanks, in front and behind.  After eleven days at sea, mostly windy, cloudy and wet we landed at Bristol, England.  We were transported by lorries (British for trucks) to a camp in the forest Southeast of London in Sussex County, near the city of Chichester.  Here we were issued individual arms (Carbines) and all the other arms and equipment from stocks that had come to England ahead of us.  The Battle of Britain was being waged.  There were continuous night time air raids.  Sirens wailing, everything was blackout.  Barrage Balloons tied all over to ensnare the low flying bombers.  Looked like enough balloons to hold the island up.  Bus Bombs, V-2 Rockets came often.  They were often low enough so we could see them, the fire came spewing out the back.  When they began to cough and sputter, they were about out of fuel and would come down soon.  Much of the winter weather is wet and foggy in England.

Late May, 1944- We moved to Bournemouth on the South coast to be staged to go across the Channel and make the invasion on the coast of France.

June 6, 1944 – “D” Day –When D Day was picked as to be June 4, the weather was not right, so the invasion was delayed.  The weather ovservers said June 6 would be better.  General Eisenhower said “GO”.  The group I was in did not land until D plus 10.  We landed on Utah Beach.  The line was not yet across the Cotain Peninsula.  We lost our first man that night to a sniper, he was on guard around the bivouac.  We moved into the hedgerow country.  Saw where the paratroopers had landed.

FRANCE, BELGIUM, AND ON INTO GERMANY

Moved on into the Hedgerow area.  Passed through the area where the paratroopers had landed.  Found parachutes entangled in the trees and hedges.  The hedgerows are constructed of a wall of mud two and three feet thick, four to five feet high with trees and shrubs growing in them.  This was a considerable obstacle for our forces.  A device was constructed to put on the front of tanks to break a hole through them.  The Germans had their “88” artillery targeted on spots where we would likely get trapped.  By August 3 were moving across France.  The Germans staged a counter-attack in the vicinity of Mortain, France, known as the Mortain Picket.  Brother Case became a casualty in this area.  We did not get in the Liberation of Paris.  General Patton’s Army got in the “glory” of that, we passed to the East.  Most of October we were in a holding pattern near Achen, Germany.  December saw us in the Hurtgen Forest where the Germans tried their counter-attack to break through our lines.  We became cut off from the U.S. forces.  For a few days we were attached to General Montgomery’s First British Army.  After the cold and snow of the Hurtgen Forest, we spent time in the area of Melmadey, Belgium.

We crossed the Rhine River on pontoon bridge near Bonn, Germany.  We were now on German soil, “The Fatherland”.  Old men, boys, women, and children is all there are left.  The men are all gone to war.  Germany is now fighting on two fronts; the Western Front and the Russian Front.  Their resources are being used up very fast.  The only food found in the houses is a few pieces of dry sour rye bread, a few potatoes, and sauerkraut.  ‘They have begun to use scientific fuel for the vehicles and aircraft.  I remember the first jet planes.  They sounded like a blow torch. 

April we were in the Hartz Mts. General Patton’s forces are headed for Berlin, hoping to take the city ahead of the Russians.  The Three Power Summit decided to let the Russians take the city, much to the disgust of General Patton.  German units are surrendering to U.S. forces intact, officers and men, whole units.  They do not want to become prisoners of the Russians.  General Patton’s forces link up with the Russians at Elbe River.  We are staying pretty much in place, the surrender is near.

May 8, 1945- The surrender has taken place.  Decisions are being made as to who will occupy what area.  The ground we were on when the surrender took place has become part of the Russian Zone of Occupation.  We withdraw and go to the area of Zalsburg, Austria.  We are designated Constabulary and have the mission of patrolling the area.

July 1947- Returned to the United States.  Assigned to Company “A”, The Ordnance School, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.

1952- Assigned overseas.  Ordnance Section, Headquarters, Eight US Army, Seoul, Korea.  Transfer to Special Services Detachment, US Army, Japan.  Assigned duty as NCO in charge at “Mora Hotel” in Tokyo, Japan.  We are operating a chain of hotels for servicemen coming to Japan for R&R leave. Harriet comes to Japan and we are married November 23, 1953. Assigned duty at Nikko Kanko hotel for a time.  This is on the shores of Lake Chozingze in Nikko National Park.  A beautiful area in the mountains and away from the city.

August 1953- Time for rotation back to the United States has come.  We return aboard an Army transport ship and land at Ft. Mason, California.  I am now assigned to 617th FA Bn,  Ft. Sill, Oklahoma.  We set up our home off the post in Lawton, Oklahoma.  We buy a house and our furniture arrives from Japan.

May 31, 1956- RETIREMENT DAY – Having served in the United States Army for 20 years and 2 months, I retire from active service.   TWENTY IS PLENTY.  Retired after 20 years of active service in the grade of Master Sergeant.  Earned all promotions in the Fourth Cavalry.  Served as Squad Leader, Section Sergeant, Platoon Sergeant, Supply Sergeant, First Sergeant, Sergeant Major.  Enlisted in Machine Gun Troop, Fourth US Cavalry in the grade of Private March 30, 1936; left as a Sgt. Major, Fourth Cavalry Recon. Sqdn.  The last 10 years of my service were in the First enlisted grade.  “Shuffled lots of papers, sharpened lots of pencils, answered lots of telephone calls.  Made detail, duty rosters, settled arguments.  Was plenty scared at times during the war, glad to be alive and not to have been wounded when it was all over.  JUST PLAIN TIRED * RETIRED* WILL FADE AWAY.

MEDALS AND DECORATIONS
Bronze Star (Meritorious Service)         Occupation Medal (WWII)
Good Conduct                                   Distinguished Unit Badge
Pre Pearl Harbor                                Commendation Ribbon
American Theatre                         Korean Presidential Cit.
European Theatre w/5 stars                         Korean Service Medal
Victory Medal                                    Nat’l.  Defense Service Mdl.

Submitted 6/6/01

 

Robert Sherwood

Robert served with the 10th Airforce that supported “Merrills Marauders” in Burma.

Submitted 6/13/01

 

Lawrence Hettich

Lawrence was a Navy ant-aircraft Gunner who served in the Pacific. 

Submitted 6/13/01

 

Laddie Svatos

Laddie was in the Navy during World War II.

Submitted 6/13/01

 

Marvin King

Marvin was a tankman in World War II.

Submitted 6/13/01

 

Edmund Thomas Martin

Edmund was in World War II as a Mess Sergeant in the Army Air Corps.  He served mostly in India and Burma. 

Submitted 6/13/01

 

Dale M. Coughlin

Dale spent 21 months on a P.T. boat in the South Pacific.

Submitted by himself, 6/18/01

 

Robert A. Torkildson

Robert was a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy serving from 7/27/1942 to 10/3/1945.

Submitted  6/18/01

 

Stanley M. McKay

Stanley was killed in action over Hamburg, Germany in December 1944

Submitted 6/18/01

 

Ernest J. Hoffman

Ernest served for 4 ½ years in World War II, two years in the Korean War and 1 year in the Berlin Crisis.

Submitted by his wife, 6/18/01

 

Orville T. Graslie

Orville was a Combat Infantryman in Army Air Force.  He served in the Battle of Rykukyus.  He received the distinguished unit badge, Asiatic Pacific Service Medal, Phillipine Liberation Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Victory Medal, and Army of Occupation Medal (Japan).   He served from October 2, 1944 until September 2, 1945.

Submitted by himself, 6/15/01

 

Albert W. Lampson

Albert served in the U.S. Army Anti-aircraft Division.  He enlisted January 12, 1941 and served in the Reserves until April 7, 1953.  He obtained the rank of 1st Lieutenant.

Submitted 6/15/01

 

Cornelius G. Noteboom

Cornelius was killed in Service.  He served in the 69th Air Service Squadron as an airplane and engine mechanic.

Submitted by his brother, 6/15/01

 

Mrs. Edmund Slattery

Mrs. Slattery was named the South Dakota’s American Mother of 1944 by Governor M. Q. Sharpe.  Mrs. Slattery is from Spencer, SD.  She has eight sons and one daughter in the service.  She also has one grandson in the army and one in the navy and a granddaughter in the waves.  Her nine children in the service were as follows:  Richard, fireman junior grade in the merchant marines.  He previously served 11 years in the navy overseas.  Donald , chief sea fitter in the navy 11 years.  Eugene was in the Marines.  Huett was a first class fire controlman in the navy.  Byron who was in a Lieutenant in the Army.  William served as pharmacist’s mate first class in the Navy serving two years overseas.  Louis was a  pharmacist’s mate third class in the Navy.  He served one and one-half years overseas.  John served 1 ½ years overseas in the Navy.  Rose was employed in the office of Brig. General Loucks, Chief of Chemical warfare service at Rocky Mountain Arsenal in Denver.

Submitted 6/15/01

 

Donald John Turnquist

Donald served as a MOMM 1st Class.  He was in the Navy from October, 1942 to November, 1945.  He crossed the English Channel on D Day.

Submitted by his wife, 6/15/01

 

Wenhard E. Strube

Wenhard served in the Pacific aboard the Cruiser U.S. Cleveland.  His rank was ship’s cook 1st Class.

Submitted by his wife, 6/15/01

 

Thomas Morgan Bradbury

Thomas served in the Navy and died at sea on Liscomboy Carrier in 1943.

Submitted by his sister, 6/18/01

 

Delbert H. Schultz

Delbert served in the U.S. Navy from January 14, 1941 until June 8, 1946. 

Submitted by his wife, 6/18/01

 

LaVerne M. Mann

LaVerne served as a demolition specialist in the 533rd.  He received the WWII Victory Medal and was part of the Occupational Forces.

Submitted by his wife, 6/18/01

 

Stanley V. Heath

Stanley served in World War II from April 7, 1942 to November 18, 1945.  He served in the invasion of Utah Beach on June 14, 1944.  He obtained the rank T/3 in the 257th Ordnance MM Company. 

Submitted by himself, 6/18/01

 

Alvin R. Schwarze

Alvin served in the 81st Amphibious Infantry Division in the Pacific Theatre during World War II.  After being involved in the battles on the Pacific Islands, our division started training for the Invasion of Japan.  Thanks for the atomic bomb the invasion was not needed.

Submitted by himself, 6/18/01

 

Frank Willms

Frank volunteered for the U.S. Marine Corps on May 3, 1944.  He received his boot training at the Marine base at San Diego and was sent to Camp Pendleton at Oceanside, CA.  For further training until going overseas to Hawaii on September 10, 1944.  He received further training in a bomb and mine disposal school for about four months.  He was then stationed on Guam, Marshall Islands and took part in the campaign of Iwo Jima, for which he wears a battle star and Presidential Unit Citation.  Before returning to the United States on July 15, 1945, he served with the occupation forces on the Japanese Island of Kyushu for eight months.  He was discharged from service on July 22, 1945.

Submitted by his sister, 6/18/01

 

Weldon Leroy McCleerey

Weldon served in the Phillipines.  He was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart.  He and his platoon were in battle and were crossing a river when both he and a fellow soldier were wounded.  Although Weldon suffered a gun shot wound to his head, he picked up his wounded buddy and carried him across the river and back to his base.  Weldon recovered but his buddy later died of a gun shot wound after making it back to the base.

Submitted by his granddaughter, 6/18/01

 

Irving E. Jenner

Irving was a WWII veteran stationed in Germany.

Submitted by his daughter, 6/18/01

 

Cromer O. Hooker

Cromer served from September, 1944 until January, 1947. 

Submitted by his daughter, 6/18/01

 

Henry L. Peterson

Henry served in the army in Europe with the 3rd Army 87th Division 549th Army Antiaircraft Artillery.

Submitted by himself, 6/15/01

 

John Gapa

John served stateside in Sioux Falls, San Antonio, TZ and Rapid City at Ellsworth AFB.  He was a staff sergeant in the Air Force.

Submitted 6/6/01

 

Frederick W. Bollinger

Frederick was a Captain in the Army Air Corps.

Submitted 6/14/01

 

Mary Bollinger Erling

Mary was a US Navy Hospital Corpsman.

Submitted 6/14/01