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. We would like to post these stories on our website. 

Gaylon Souvignier

Captain in the U.S. Marine Corps.  Service with Company A, First Battalion, Ninth Regiment, Third Marine Division.  He was awarded the Bronze Star for outstanding bravery as well as the Purple Heart for his actions on Iwo Jima on February 27, 1945.  He was hospitalized for 13 months recovering from wounds that he received that day.  He died September 1, 2000.

Submitted by his cousin, 9/14/200

Roy Otis Nanson

Hometown—Sioux Falls/Crooks, SD.  Enlisted in U.S. Army in 1942.  He completed basic training at Ford Ord and other areas in California and Hawaii.  He fought for his country in the Aleutian Islands, Phillipine Islands and Okinawa.  He returned to the states on October 8, 1945 and was honorably discharged on October 16, 1945.  Roy died on July 5, 1997.

Submitted by his son and daughter, 9/20/00

Ellsworth John Karrigan

Hometown—Aberdeen, SD.  Ellsworth enlisted in the U.S. Army on July 2, 1942.  He was stationed in England and fought for our country from the beaches of France to the gates of Berlin.  He was honorably discharged in 1945.  Ellsworth celebrated his 92nd birthday on September 23, 2000.

Submitted by his sons, 9/20/00

Donald Gordon Whitman

Don was born in Timber Lake, SD and later moved with his family to Mobridge and Aberdeen.  He graduated from Aberdeen High School.  He attended SDSU and graduated from USD in 1939 with a degree in Business Administration.  He was a member of Delta Tau Delta Fraternity.  As a member of ROTC, he served as a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army at Ft. Snelling  in Minnesota and Ft. Benning in Georgia.   On August 29, 1940, he married Helen Leyse in Sioux Falls and together they sailed on the USAT Grant to the Phillipine Islands arriving on November 1, 1940.    He was stationed at Fort Storsenburg, approximately 60 miles north of Manila. On May 14, 1941 under government orders, Helen and all the other American wives were ordered by President F.D. Roosevelt to return to the U.S.  On December 7, 1941, the Phillipine bases including Fort Stotsenburg were bombed.  The Japanese captured the American soldiers and made them prisoners of war.  Don was among the soldiers in the Bataan Death March and remained a POW for 3 ½ years in Camp 2 at Cabantuan, north of Manila.  He was on a Japanese prison ship that was not marked.  American planes bombed the ship off the coast of Luzon Bay and most of the men on board were lost to sea.  That day was December 15, 1944.

Submitted by his wife, 9/20/00

James Peacock

Was at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and was also present at the Peace Treaty signing aboard the USS Missouri.

Submitted by his wife 10/5/00

John Minahan

Was killed in the Battle of Leyte Gulf on October 24, 1944.  His ship the USS Birmingham was fighting fire on the carrier Princeton.  His body was buried at sea on October 25, 1944.

Submitted by his sister, 10/5/00

Liechti Brothers

Four sons of the John and Mary Liechti of Seneca served in the military during World War II.  Alfred Liechti was a Tech-4 with the Headquarters Battery 147th Field Artillery as a radio operator.  He enlisted in the National Guard at Flandreaw on September 29, 1939 and was called to active duty on November 25, 1940.  He served in New Guinea, Luzon, and the East Indies.  He was discharged on June 15, 1942 at Ft Snelling, MN.  He died on June 25, 1942.

Walter Liechit enlisted in the National Guard on February 4, 1941.  He was a private, serving as a truck driver in Tunisia, and Italy near Naples and Foggia.  He was wounded on January 3, 1944 and received the Purple Heart.  He was discharged at Camp McCoy, WI on August 30, 1945.  He lived in Faulkton, SD until his death in 1988.

Ernest Liechti enlisted February 4, 1941 at Aberdeen and was a corporal in Battery D 749th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Gun Battalion and served as squad leader for squadron 745.  He saw action in France, the Rhineland, Ardennes, and central Europe.  He was honorably discharged on October 31, 1945 at Camp McCoy, WI.  He farmed near Seneca until his death in August, 1969.

William”Bill” Liechti enlisted in the Navy on January 14, 1943 and served in the Pacific Theather.  He received his honorable discharge at the separation center in Minneapolis, MN. 

Submitted by one of the brothers, 10/11/00

Orville A. Stangl

  Was enrolled in advanced R.O.T.C. at South Dakota State when was declared on Japan and Germany.  I enlisted in the Army Reserve on June 1, 1942, graduated from State in March, 1943 and reported for active duty to Ft. Snelling, MN on April 6, 1943.  I was ordered to Officer Candidate School at Ft. Benning, GA Infantry School and received my Reserve Officer Commission as a 2nd Lt. Inf. Reserve on August 2, 1943. 

   I served briefly in Texas training new recruits, then joined Co. D 409th Infantry of the 103rd Division on Louisiana maneuvers.  After maneuvers, we moved to Camp Howe, Tx for Advanced Combat Training.

   On May 1, 1944, I reported to Ft. George G. Meade, MD as an individual officer replacement destined for overseas combat service.  I became part of an Infantry Replacement Company of six officers and 200 enlisted men.  We were processed and trained at Camp Shouks, NY on the banks of the Hudson River near New York City.  We shipped out of NY harbor (Brooklyn) on June 16, 1944 on the U.S.S. Lejune.  We landed at Glascow, Scotland on June 29, 1944.  We proceeded by train to a Replacement Center near South Hampton, England.  We crossed the Atlantic in a large convoy of ships.

  On July 16, 1944, our replacement company landed on Utah Beach in Normandy.  On July 19, I was ordered to the 9th Infantry Division along with about 24 other Lieutenants and 500 enlisted men.  We were replacements for battle casualties as the Division had been in Combat since D plus 2.

  I joined M Company 60th Infantry 9th Division on July 20th.  On July 26th, I was wounded in the left lower leg by a shell fragment, as we were advancing down a narrow lane.  I was evacuated to England.  I got back to the outfit in early November, 1944, just inside Germany.  I served with M Company as a F.O. for 81 MM mortar and artillery, always up with the forward infantry units. On February 1, 1945, I transferred to I Company as a Rifle Platoon Leader.  We crossed the Rhine River on the Reunagen Bridge the second day we had it on March 8, 1945.  Enlarging and securing the bridgehead was out mission.  Casualties were heavy.  I was nicked in the neck by a shell fragment on March 13.  On March 18, I received a head wound from an artillery shell fuse and was evacuated to a hospital in Paris.  I rejoined my outfit about V-E Day in 1945.  I served on occupation duty till November 1945 and returned home.  I was released from active duty in December, 1945. 

Submitted by himself, October 19, 2000.