|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.
son of Levi & Louise (Janis) Amiotte
Born: Jan. 4, 1920 Martin, South Dakota
Died: Sept. 16, 1994 Phoenix, Arizona
U.S. Army Feb. 1943 to May, 1945
Heart /Wounded in Action March 1945 Magdeburg, Germany. Received
medal in Feb.1993, 48 years later.
& Campaign Medals:
Fourgerre Shoulder Lanyard.
Fourgerre Shoulder Lanyard,
Good Conduct, Army of Occupation,
Forces Reserve, National Defense Service,
II American Campaign, & WW II American Defense,
Tank Driver & Weapons,
Time Member of Disabled American Veterans
Entered the U.S. Army in Feb. 1943 and due to his
experience with operating bulldozers as a youth for the
Conservation Corp. during the Great Depression he was earmarked
for the armored corp. where he learned to operate
the newly developed 30 ton M4 Sherman Tank.
extensive training in the states Doug shipped out of the
Philadelphia Naval yard in early 1944 aboard the Queen Mary
which had been converted to the largest and fastest troop ship
of the war. Like a lot of US soldiers of the time he landed in
Scotland and then was shipped down into England via a troop
train. It was in England where he was assigned to the U.S 2nd
Armored Division, 67th Regiment, Maintenance Company
as a Tech
Sgt. and received more training for the upcoming invasion of
Doug entered France when he came across Normandy’s
Omaha Beach on June 28th, 1944 with the last elements
of the 2nd Armd. Division.
Shortly before his death in Sept. 1994 Doug was
interviewed by the magazine Native Peoples for an article on
American Indian WW II veterans in their Winter 1995 issue. In
his own words, he said this about his landing on Omaha Beach,
All I saw from my tank was what lay ahead. The French had
barricaded themselves in. We
to talk because of the explosions, the smoke, the frenzied
haste. We had to keep moving so the Germans were not given time
to recover. We advanced as fast as we could. It was chaos
His first major battle was the one known as the St. Lo
Breakout, where the entire U.S. Army pushed out of the Normandy
Beachhead on July 27th and spread fast and far
encircling the opposing German forces with in a matter of a few
weeks. It was the 2nd & 3rd Armd.
divisions that led the charge at the beginning of this campaign
clearing the way for the follow-up Infantry Divisions to make
their mark. Due to the veteran status of the 2nd
they were kept on the front line for as long as possible. This
included Tech Sgt. Doug Amiotte and his tank now known as
“Momma” where he saw action in a number skirmishes both
large and small.
By the fall of 1944 Tech Sgt. Doug Amiotte and the rest
of the 2nd Armd. Division where situated in Northern
Belgium waiting for the final push on into Germany as were all
Allied units. During the famed, Battle of the Bulge in Dec of
1944, all units of the 2nd Armd. had been turned to
attack in a south ward direction to help relieve the pressure
from the entrapped troops within the Bulge area. It was on
Christmas day of 1944 that Tech. Sgt. Doug Amiotte with the
other members of his division met and destroyed the German 2nd
Panzer division. This was a day long tank battle that took place
in temperatures way below freezing and after the division had
traveled over 120 miles in three days on frozen, snow covered
forest roads. With no warm food, little sleep and freezing
weather they fought a battle that kept the German armored
spearhead from reaching it’s final destination. As stated in
the Time/Life WWII series volume 15,
On this day the 2nd Armd. Division had earned it’s
well deserved nick name, of “Hell on Wheels”. For Sgt. Doug
his memories were of it being,” Just Cold, just down right
else seemed unreal but the cold. That type of cold was worse
than anything I had experienced growing up in Pine Ridge.”
One other action that
Sgt. Doug remembers vividly is in early March of 45’ when he
was with the lead elements of his Division and they were the
first to liberate the German Concentration/Death Camp known as
Buchenwald. He describes it best himself,” It was early in the
morning, not even sunrise yet. We did not know for sure where we
were, all we knew was that it was a camp of some sort. The smell
was nothing I had ever smelled before. There were smokestacks
with smoke still curling out of them. The Germans gave a brief
fight before fleeing. I climbed a flagpole to get this German
flag that was flying. I wanted it as a souvenir. After that we
took off chasing the Germans. But that smell just stayed with
me. It was later on that day that we found out it was Buchenwald.”
It was towards the end of March 1945 that Tech Sgt. Doug
was wounded in action near Magdeburg , Germany as the Allies
closed in on Berlin. His tank had hit a mine that had been
hidden on the roadway, which then caused it to flip over on its
side. As the tank caught on fire Sgt. Doug pulled himself free
of the piece of metal that had jammed itself in to his kneecap
and drug himself from the fiercely burning tank. At that moment
Tech Sgt. Walter Douglas Amiotte ’s war was over.
Again in his own words,” The tank overturned; I was
unable to free myself. Not daring to look, I pulled with all my
might. I was free. But a part of my leg stayed behind.”
After recovering in a hospital in Southern France he
remained in Europe for the following 10 months as part of the
Allied occupation force. It was in this period that he was
reassigned to the 2nd Armored which became the honor
guard for President Harry S. Truman has he attended the Potsdam
Conference along side Joe Stalin of Russia and Winston Churchill
of England. Doug Amiotte was a spectator and participant to all
this and more. At the time he was 25 years old.
by his son, 6/29/01
Belle Nelson Amiotte
daughter of William
& Mary (Martinez Red Nose) Nelson,
Dec. 19, 1922 Pine Ridge S.D.
resides in Phoenix, Arizona in the house she and Doug Amiotte
purchased with their VA benefits.
Nov.1944 to May 1946
Theatre Campaign Ribbon,
II Victory Ribbon,
Service Lapel Button,
of Satisfactory Service (Good Conduct)
Entered the U.S. Navy in May
of 1944 while living and working in Omaha, Nebraska. On a whim
Ida and three of her girlfriends, all American Indians, went to
the local recruiting station and signed up for the service. It
was only after all the tests were completed did Ida realize that
she was the only one accepted for Naval duty. As she states now,
“That was due to her Holy Rosary Mission School Training. The
other three went to a regular boarding school.”
training was at Hunter’s College in the Bronx section of New
York City. For 6 weeks starting in May 1944 she and the other
new recruits were trained in the ways of the U.S. Navy. Her
first full dress uniform marching exercise was viewed by the
then First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Her class was held over for
two weeks just so the First Lady could make a special appearance
at the dress parade. From New York Ida was assigned to further
duties and training in Farragut, Idaho.
was on this train journey west that Ida and her troop of newly
assigned WAVES were stopped in Chicago and made to march in full
dress uniform just so they could be filmed for the movie,
“Here Comes the Waves”. In Ida’s own words, ”What made
us mad was that it was the middle of the summer and we had to
wear those heavy wool uniforms as we marched through those
baking streets of pavement and the awful muggy weather of
Chicago.” It was also on this trip that all the WAVES were disciplined
for the actions of a few, who broke the code of silence. Again
in Ida’s own words,
” We were told to keep quiet and not tell any of our
family where we were headed. As luck would a have it and humans
being humans, a few of the ladies informed there families that
they would be coming through Minneapolis/ St. Paul. Sure enough
there at the train station where all these parents, sisters,
aunts and uncles waving flags making noise looking for their
daughter/sister/niece on the train. Well, this didn’t sit well
with any of the commanding officers and all through the rest of
the journey the WAVES were made to do marches at each and every
stop.” Needless to say Ida was in on the punishment to those
guilty of breaking silence. As it turned out the reason for such
strict punishment for the WAVES was that the train was loaded
with a couple thousand troops destined for the Pacific theatre
in Farragut, Id. that Ida acquired the skills needed to sort,
deliver, and censor all the various packages, parcels and
letters bound for and from U.S. Naval personnel. It was here
where she earned her rank as Mailman 3rd Class. After
7 months of training she was then assigned to work out of the
Seattle - Bremerton Naval base. Being within the 13th
Naval District, Seattle was home port for many of the Pacific
theatre war ships. It was here after the Battle for Okinawa that
the air craft carrier Enterprise was towed for repairs due to
kamikaze attacks by the Japanese air force.
When it came time for the removal of the many pouches of
mail from the ship, it was 3rd Class Mail-person Ida
B. Nelson who stood on the deck next to the damaged ship waiting
for the mail and watching in awe as the dead were still being
removed. Again in the words of Ida,” I just stood there with
tears streaming down my face as the bodies of all those young
American sailors were removed. The stench of death was
overbearing. And then this one stretcher came down with this
Military Police detail surrounding it. As they walked right by
me, I realized it was the body of the Japanese pilot who had
flown his plane into the carrier. For sticking out from
underneath the covering sheet was his scarf with Japanese emblem
of the Rising Sun. It was a sight that I shall always
after the Enterprise episode Ida was transferred to the Tongue
Point Naval Air Base in Astoria, Oregon where she finished out
her U.S. Naval enlistment tour as by then the war had ended. It
was then that she returned home to the Pine Ridge Indian
reservation for a long awaited reunion with not only her sister
Mary Cottier. But also her two brothers Tom Nelson, who had
joined the Navy and served in the Pacific theatre and Cleveland
“Moot” Nelson who had served in the North African &
Italian campaigns with the U.S. Army. At the time she was 23
by her son, 6/29/01
served as a radio repairman with the U.S. Army Signal Corps from
June 15, 1945 to March 9, 1946.
He served in the Pacific Theatre in the Phillippines, New
Guinea, Nagaski, Hiroshima, and Tokyo, Japan.
He received the Victory Ribbon, American Theatre Ribbon,
Asiatic Pacific Theatre Ribbon with one bronze star, the Good
Conduct Medal and three overseas bars.
He attained the rank of sergeant.
died in October, 1943 in World War II.
by his daughter, 7/3/01
served in the Pacific Theatre as an airplane mechanic in World
served in the Army Air Coprs from 1940 to 1945.
He was active during the Guadal Canal Campaign from 1942
to 1943 as a Staff Sergeant Pilot.
He received a battlefield commission in 1943.
served from 1943 until 1946.
He was a radioman third class on the sub-chasa ship SC650
in the Asiatic Pacific Campaign.
served from 1943 to 1946 as a MM/2/C on the USS Bougainville in
the Asiastic Pacific Theatre.
served from 1945 to 1946 in the 96th NCB in North
as a Japanese Prisoner of War in the Phillippines.
Lyla was a
grade school student during World War II.
He gathered milk weed pods, scrap metal, aluminum and
bought war stamps at school.
Harold Glenn Schooley
killed in action in France during World War II.
served in the U.S. Army in France during World War II.
served in the Air Force from 1942 to 1946.
was in the quartermaster division.
He received a medical discharge.
was a Sergeant for three years in Africa, Sicily, Italy and
served with General Patton’s Third army in Germany. He
attained the rank of Corporal.
Verle was a Corporal with a ground crew
in a bomb squandron of the army stationed in England.
Lewis was hospitalized in Texas after
serving in the Aleutians, the Phillippines and Marshall
Islands. He took part in three major combats and received
Eldon served as a Marine in the South
served as a air pilot in the army air corps.
He died November 30, 1944 on his 17th Mission
in a B17 bomber over Germany.
B. Gulbrandson, Jr.
served aboard the USS South Dakota from 1944 to 1946.
He also served in the US Army during the occupation of
Germany from 1947 to 1949.
He was with the 1st Infantry Division.
a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force.
He served as part of the ground crew that was stationed
in Alaska providing telegraphy.
was a Master Sergeant in the U.S. Army.
He was a platoon leader through Africa, Europe and
received various ribbons.
served as Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Marines during World War
II. He saw action in the Pacific Ocean on Marshall Islands,
Saipan, and Tinian. He
was killed in action on Iwo Jima Island on February 23. 1945.
He was awarded the Purple Heart.
He was with the Reg W Company 23rd Marines, 4th
Marine Division. He
joined the Marines so that his older brother would not have to
go. His family lived on a isolated ranch near Faith South Dakota
and his mother was a widow.
His older brother was the primary caretaker of the ranch
for his Mother. He
was a Chaplain’s helper at first and would always ask for
prayer around the time of another invasion.
He had written home to his family prior to the family
receiving notification of his death. He said they were going on an invasion and that there had not
been the usual pre-bombing in the area.
served as a private in the US Army.
He saw action in Mariannas Islands.
Lyman Smith, Jr.
served in the US Navy with action in the Pacific.
served from August 7, 1941 until October 22, 1945.
He was at Utah Beak to the Elbe River.
died on the Kwajalain Islands in World War II and is buried in
served in the Army Air Corps in World War II.
four years as a Tech Corporal of the United States Army.
He was drafted in 1941 and discharged in August of 1945.
He was in carpentry and artillery.
killed in action in World War II.
Missing in Action in World War II.
Tony was a
prisoner of war during World War II.
served in the South Pacific for 3 ½ years.
was killed in action.
was 20 years old when I was drafted and left for the service.
I was in the Army's 752 Tank Battalion (1944).
We were pushed into combat off the Angio Beach Head
(spelled correctly??). After
our Battalion took a good beating, my tank happened to be one of
the first into Rome with the newsreel.
At that point Rome had been declared an open city for 48
hours. We had the
opportunity to spend a full day in Rome after things quieted
down a bit. The
Italian women bid the German soldiers goodbye and then welcomed
the American soldiers with flowers.
We were considered heroes, although the war had far from
ended. It was a big
morale boost for all of the military during the 48-hour cease
fire. This was one
of the highs I can recall before spending 387 consecutive days
on the front line without relief.
Our tank battalion was the first to receive the
Presidential Citation in Europe during WWII.
joined the Navy at 18 years of age in 1943 and served in World
served in the Pacific for three years during World War II.
served in Germany, Italy and the was sent to the Phillippines
after the European Campaign was settled.
was a Staff Sargeant with Company A, 723rd Railway
Operating Battalion during World War II.
was a Tech 5 with the Headquarters Company of the 723rd
Railway Operating Battalion.
served in the US Army from February. 1943 to April, 1946.
is a Pearl Harbor Survivor having served on the U.S.S.
served in the Army infantry at the Battle of the Bulge.
in the U.S. Army in the South Pacific for more than 3 years. He
had basic training in Hawaii and was in 3 major invasions
including Saipan, Tinian and Okinawa. After a typhoon hit
Okinawa shortly after the invasion, Lyle's tent was the only one
left standing after the storm. We always joked with him that he
must have "welded it to the ground!" He was the sort
of person who always built things to last, and could build or
fix anything, and do it extremely well. In the U.S. Army he was
assigned to the "motor pool" and worked at repairing
trucks, Jeeps, tanks and other equipment.
was killed in France in 1944.
was in charge of anti-aircraft gun at Los Angeles, Ca.
He is one of ten sons of Harry Schofield who were
registered fpr the draft.
was at Fort Lewis, Washington with the 56rh Medical Battalion.
He is one of ten sons of Harry Schofield who were registered for
is one of ten sons of Harry Schofield who were registered fpr
was killed in action in Germany on April 23, 1945.
Charles Aukerman, Jr.
volunteered for the Army Air Force.
was drafted into the army infantry and was killed on Okinawa in
May, 1945. He is
buried at the Punch Bowl, Oahu, Hawaii.
served in World War II. He
received a bonus of $350.50 on January 16, 1950 from the State
of South Dakota. Harley
figures that if he had taken this check and invested in treasury
bills or certificates of deposit with an average interest rate
of 5% from the day he received the bonus until July 4, 2001, he
would have cashed a check in the amount of $4,057.63.
the service on October 3rd, 1943.
After basic, he received training at Ft. Leonard Wood,
Missouri as an Engineer in the Automotive Mechanics School.
His training continued at Camp Clarborne, Louisiana as an
Engineer for an additional 4 weeks.
He left for Australia
August 8th, 1944 on the USS Gen. George M. Randall and
arrived there and waited for an escort to continue on to his
next station. He
arrived in theatre and was stationed with the 3731st Quarter
Master Truck Company with the US Army Engineers in
China/Burma/and India for the next year and a half. He worked
with/supervised 6 other enlisted mechanics and approximately 200
Chinese laborers during his tour.
They repaired all types of military vehicles used in
conjunction with supplying the troops into Burma/India/and the
Pacific War theatre. On
the 3rd of January 1946, he was shipped home and was honorably
discharged from active duty on the 2nd of February 1946 with the
rank of Technical Sergeant.
He served as a member of the Guard in Canton for a short
period of time in the inactive reserve.
Among the decorations he received were the Good Conduct
Medal and the Asiatic/Pacific Theatre Ribbon. He has a few
pictures from his service time but the one we all know and are
the most familiar with is the one of him seated upon an elephant
doing road work somewhere in India/Burma.
His family thinks he is
the originator of the phrase, "clean your plate,
people are starving to death in China" as we heard it so
much while we were growing up.
We are all very proud of him and of his service to this
by his children