|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.
David L. Colombe
David is 85 years old and still drives, mows his lawn, and does
most of the upkeep on his home.
He has be married for 66 years to Josephine and they are
both pretty active.
David is an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux tribe. He received numerous honors while in the U.S. Army.
He received the Distinguished Service Cross, the Bronze
Star, and the Purple Heart, the Presidential Unit Emblem, the
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with two Bronze
Service Stars, WW II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal
with Germany Clasp, the National 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
David was identified in a book about South Dakotans who were
decorated as follows:
“On November 26, 1944 in Germany, armed only with a trench
knife, leaped in to an enemy fox hold and single handily
captured two Germans.
Securing a hostile auto rifle 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.”
Eugene Earle Pugsley
Eugene served in the U.S. Navy as an Officer on the SS Accontis,
primarily in the South Pacific.
Donald Wayne Gardner
Donald served in the Navy as a radioman. He was killed in
Gerald Thomas Gardner
Gerald served in the Marines in Iwa Jima.
Annabelle Larson Wright
Annabelle served in the Navy and was stationed on a hospital
ship in the South Pacific.
Jack was a scout & radio operator under Gen. Patton in Africa,
was then shipped to England and was second wave at Normany.
He fought with his fellow soldiers all the way through
France and into Germany.
Jack stayed in Europe until the War was over.
Submitted by his Son-in-law
Hugo Jacob Schnabel
Hugo spent four years in the South Pacific during WW II.
Steve served in the Army during WW II.
Celestine began service, but was unable to continue due to
Served in the war during WW II.
William R. Lyon
William served in the Navy.
Bud served in the Navy.
Served in the Navy.
Served in the Navy.
Eva Spencer Osterberg
Eva served in the U.S. Army as a typist in London during the V-1
rocket attacks, went ashore at Normandy in July 1944, and
eventually served in the historical division in Paris.
Myron served in the U.S. Navy on an attack cargo vessel in the
Corp. C.E. Porter
Served in the U.S. Army.
Corp. L.L. Porter
Served in the U.S. Army Air Corp.
Mylo E. Porter
Mylo served as 1st Class Store Keeper-U.S. Navy Pearl
Mark Wayne Porter
Mark served in the U.S. Navy.
George H. Hanson
George served in the U.S. Army.
Kenneth L. Fritz
Enlisted in the Army Air Corp on September 11, 1941, with the
First Fighter Group, 71st Fighter Squad.
Returned to the USA July 30, 1945, Via Africa, Sardinia
and Italy with the top rank of Sargent.
Elwood C. Peterson
entered the Army in August 1942 from Beadle County and served 18
months in the U.S., and about 20 months in Europe, and receiving
his discharge on October 31, 1945
Donald E. Woodford
Donald entered the Army from either Spink or Edmund county,
served in the Pacific Theater during WW II.
Kenneth enlisted in the Air Force and was listed as missing in
action in July 1944 and later listed as killed in action.
He was from Beadle County.
Norman H. Foss
Norman enlisted in the Army.
His first assignment was at Camp Crudu, Mo., attended radio
operator school there.
Spent 37 months and discharged October 19, 1945.
Submitted by his wife
Leonard M. Cremer
Leonard enlisted in the Navy from 1942 to 1945 and served in the
The Honorable Mildred Ramynke
Mildred was one of the women pilots who shuttled air craft in WW
Arthur R. Moran
WW II vet and POW.
Robert B. Bailey
Robert enlisted in the Marines when he was only seventeen.
Harold (Bill) Feige
Harold served in Europe during WW II, until he was wounded.
Howard served in WW II as a B-24 pilot .
Donald served in the U.S. Navy, in the submarine corps on the
Nautilus, and was involved in the battle of Midway.
Ralph served in the U.S. Army as a B-17 co-pilot stationed in
Roger served in the U.S. Army in Europe.
John H. Ortmeier
John served in the 335th Engineer Regiment.
Kenneth C. Kightlinger
Kenneth served in the U.S. Navy, from 1942 to 1948, in both the
European and Pacific Theaters of War.
Mr. Kightlinger served on U.S. Navy ship that was the
first to enter Nagasaki, Japan after the atomic bomb was dropped
Arnold (Bus) Lawrence Korkow
Arnold served in the Navy.
He was a Second Class Boatmate.
Lawrence is a WW II veteran.
These are the medals he received while he was in the service. Bronze Star, Good Conduct Medal, European-African-Middle
Eastern Medal, WW II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation with
Germany Clasp Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Honorable Service
Lapel Button, Purple Heart Medal.
Helmuth R. Papendick
Helmuth was a paratrooper during WW II.
Leo served in the Pacific Theater, and was a Silver Star
Dean served in the U.S. Navy
Wayne served in the U.S. Navy
Gene served in the U.S. Air Force
Joseph G. Zdenek
Joseph was stationed in the Aleutian Islands.
Mr. Abernathy served in WW II in the 101st Airborne.
James H. Lanpher
James served in the Navy, on a carrier in the Pacific and
received a few honors.
Merle Daniel Harsh
Merle served in the Navy, aboard the USS Bunker Hill.
Darrel Perishing Drake
Darrel served in WW II as a Fighter Pilot.
Robert Royal Miller
Robert served in Army Air Corps with the Mediterranean Theater.
Joyce H. Miller Quyle
Joyce served in U.S. Marines, Stateside Service.
John D. Miller Jr.
John served in the Marines, he was a Career Officer, Pacific
Edgar served in the Army.
He was in Corregidor death march, while being taken to Japan as
a POW, his ship was torpedoed by U.S. Forces, the ship of Japan
not being marked as a mercy ship.
Oscar served in the Navy and was stationed in the Aleutian
Submitted by his daughter
George W. Blair
George served in the Army Air Corps and was a B-25 bomber pilot.
He survived being shot down over the South Chine Sea.
In my eyes, he is one of those “silent heroes”.
He rarely talks about his war experiences unless he is
with other veterans.
Submitted by his daughter
Tom served with the 109th Engineers.
Frank survived the sinking of the USS Abner Reed off the
Submitted by his niece
Glen B. Julm
Glen served in the U.S. Army Air Force.
He was Capt. Of U.S. Air Force Reserve.
George M. Vandel Jr.
George served with the 20th Air Force as an E-6
flight engineer/gunner with the
Submitted by his son
B-29’s flying out of Guam during World War II.
He flew numerous photo recon missions over Japan.
John enlisted in the Navy in 1945.
Mary Jo Grassel(Vetter)
Mary Jo served as 1st Lt. in the Army Nurse Corps.
Captain Wayne L. Peterson
Wayne was in the 42nd Rainbow Division in Europe.
Walter Ray Lawhon
Walter served as a Staff Sgt. in Japan.
drafted into the Army in 1943 at the age of 31 and the father of
6. Served with the 37th
Infantry Division in Bougainville, New Guinea, and the
Philippines. Took part in the Invasion of Luzon in the Linguyan
Gulf on 1-9-45, and fought for the liberation of Manila. Awarded
the Bronze Star for heroism in combat - (His lieutenant was
wounded and laying in the middle of a street in Manila, another
soldier had tried to get to the Lt. and had gotten shot, he ran
out under fire and got them both back to safety.), and Oak Leaf
Cluster for meritorious service - (While advancing up a road
near Balete Pass his company came under attack by 2 enemy
machine guns. He was laying in one ditch and his captain in
another and he had the radio on his back. When the captain
hollered for "radio" he ran across the road with the 2 machine
guns firing at him. He made it unscathed).
He was very proud to have
served the country he loved so much. He often said that no one
could pay him enough to go through again what he went through in
the war but he wouldn't trade the experience for anything
LeRoy D. Jenks
in the ROTC at Brookings and entered the Officer Training School
at Ft. Benning, GA in July of 1943. He served in France,
England, Germany and Czechoslovakia, also the Battle of the
Bulge, with the 5th Infantry Division. He was
discharged as Captain in December 1946.
Banks Connor Bartley, Jr.
served in the Navy from May to November 1944 as a Seaman Second
Class in Farragut, Idaho.
John was a
POW in Germany for nine months and landed on D-Day. He was a
Tech 5 Corporal and drove an armored car during the invasion in
France June 6, 1944. He was captured on June 13, 1944.
John was a
pilot during war.
Robert H. Newby
served in the USAF during the World War II and the Korean War.
He was killed in France in 1963 in an aircraft accident while
serving in the Air Force as a reconnaissance pilot.
Otto R. Johnson
in the United States Air Force from 1942 to 1945 in the European
Theatre. He was a Sergeant with the P-38 Ground Crew.
Alfred Edward Briggs
served in the European Theatre with the National Guard Unit from
Brookings, SD in January 1942. He served until 1945.
was a Navy ensign and a pilot. There were 12 men aboard when
they were shot down off the coast of Norfolk, Virginia. It was
presumed a Russian submarine shot them down and in the following
year after the war ended we attended several films of the war
department. They thought we might be able to trace him but no
trace was ever found of any of the twelve men.
served in the US Navy during World War II and he remembers the
gratitude he felt when he received the “veteran’s bonus” which
South Dakota granted in 1946 to every SD service person. His
family received it when they were living hand to mouth in Texas
and doing graduate study.
Jim was 17
years old in 1942. He had to have his parents consent before be
sworn into service in the US Navy. After Boot Camp at the Great
Lakes Naval Station, he was assigned to Fleet Sound School I in
Florida. From Florida, he was assigned to the USS Destroyer
McKee that was being built in Orange, Texas. Upon completion of
shake down and training, the USS McKee eventually arrived in
Guadalcanal. Nearly three years were spent aboard the USS McKee
in the Pacific area. During battles, Walker was a 20-mm gunner,
and was given credit for shooting down a Japanese Betty torpedo
plane. Walker was discharged from the Navy in December 1945.
McKee earned even battle stars on the Asiatic-Pacific Area
Service Ribbon. McKee was under air attack 229 times, he was on
radar picket 49 times, he refueled at sea 129 times, he rescued
11 pilots, 3 air crewmen and 10 others, and he had 11 star
Leroy James Zimmer
served in the US Army with the 636th Tank Destroyer
Division in the European Theater.
Harold Richard Zimmer
served in the US Army with the 11th Field Artillery
in Battery C in the South Pacific Theater.
served in the US Army in the Photo Recognizance Unit in India.
Donald LeRoy Swanson
served in the US Army Signal Corps in the South Pacific Theater.
in the Navy on a repair base in the South Pacific.
entered the service on May 26, 1944 in the Infantry. He was
killed in action on February 11, 1945 in Germany during the
Battle of the Bulge.
served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, Corps of Engineers from
1942 until 1946. He served in many of the European Countries as
well as several of the Pacific Islands and Japan following VE
Day. The Corps of Engineers were the first soldiers in,
following the front line troops, and it was their responsibility
and duty to rebuild roads, bridges, railroads, and airstrips for
the troops which fought many of the main battles.
Harlan R. Kant
a member of the 16th Ordnance Battalion served
overseas on Oahu, Iwo Jima. He supervised and directed the work
of 36 mechanics in the assembling and exchanging engine and
overhauling of the M-4 Tractors, amphibian vehicles, and all
types of Army trucks and automobiles. He inspected, tested and
approved or disapproved completed work. He kept mechanic
reports, job orders and the registers and records of vehicles
repaired. He also did the more difficult repair work. He was
in the Battle of Iwo Jima.
John and Mary Cole
Mary had six sons in the military that served over 15 years of
wartime overseas duty during World War II. They represented
most every theater of the war areas from the Pacific to the
served in the 21st Infantry, 24th Division
from 1941 to 1945. He was at Pearl Harbor during the bombing.
served in the U.S. Airforce from 1943 to 1945.
Herman G. Selken
served in the U.S. Air Force from 1943 to 1945.
served in the Navy from 1943 to 1945 on the Hopewell Ship.
killed in action in Italy.
Willis C. Wagner
a staff sergeant on the 63 Trp. Carrier Group in the U.S. Air
Harold C. Steele, Sr.
served on two different ships that were sunk and yet managed to
come home. He served on the St. Helena.
Alphia H. Schumacher
a POW in Germany. He was an Aerial Gunner. He received the
European African Middle Eastern Service Medal, World War II
Victory Medal, Good Conduct Medal, and American Service Medal.
He served from December 21, 1943 to January 28, 1944.
A. Marie Smith
served in the Civil Service in Washington, D.C. in the Army.
Mary and Bill Hardy
Bill moved from Lead, SD to Portland, Oregon to help with the
war effort. Mary worked for the Air Force as a volunteer at an
aircraft-warning center. She also spent many hours-knitting
hats, sweaters, mittens, socks, etc., which were given to men
when their ships came into port. She worked with a Christian
Science knitting group. Bill worked in the shipyard as an
electrician, wiring the new ships that were built.
Selmer E. Langager
killed in action in Normandy in June of 1944.
Howard D. Gallentine
enlisted in February, 1942 and served in the 10th
Mountain Ski Troops and received his honorable discharge in
William R. Degnan
was a Pearl Harbor Survivor. He was in the USS Helena when it
was hit in Pearl Harbor.
James L. Crisp
a private who was killed in the Battle of the Bulge.
Thayne C. Smith
served on the USS Shark1 and was killed in action on February
George D. Specker
a Major who served in the European Theatre as an engineer with
the 360th Engineers in the U.S. Army. He specialized
in deactivating mines and booby traps.
in the Army Nurse Corps. She had her Captain bars presented to
her by General Patton in the war torn field somewhere in Europe.
Frank L. Whitney
served as a Chaplain in the 8th Air Force, 390th
Bomb group and was stationed in Eye, England for the duration.
Murdoch C. Johnson
served with the 1st Armored Division. He was overseas
for three years and seven days. He was in the following
campaigns—Tunisia, Naples/Foggia, Rome/Arno, North Apennines and
PO Valley. He was discharged June 15, 1945.
Wayne C. Kennedy
served as a flight control officer in Scotland from February
1944 to April 1946.
Richard C. Giblin III
was a member of the South Dakota National Guard Battery D of the
147th Field Artillery.
L.J. “Bud” Maher
Bud was a
major in the U.S. Army who served in the South Pacific.
Doris G. Maher
a 1st Lieutenant in the US Army Medical Corp. She
served in Europe as a dietician in Army Hospitals.
Donald G. Kleppin
a Second Lieutenant in the 331 Infantry Regiment, 83rd
Division of the US Army during World War II. He received the
Silver Star and Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster. He was
killed in action July 18, 1944. He is buried at the Normandy
American Cemetery, St. Laurent-sur-Mer, France.
Oliver C. Hesla
in the Army Air Force. He was stationed in England from
December, 1943 to 1945.
Laurel Aaron Iverson
a Chief Motor Machinists Mate in the U.S. Navy. He trained at
the Great Lakes and served overseas in Italy. His service was
from December 7, 9142 to December 6, 1945.
was a Colonel and the commanding officer for the 147th
FA. The 147th left Pearl Harbor a week before the
bombing. Les later became the Governor of South Dakota.
John F. Forchtner
completed basic training at Fort Francis Warren in Cheyenne,
Wyoming. He was stationed at Camp Robinson and Camp Chaffee in
Arkansas. He completed Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning,
GA graduating as a Second Lieutenant. As a Second Lt., he was
assigned to the 77th Infantry Division, 305th
Regiment serving until November 20, 1943.
with 15th Infantry. He received a Bronze Star and
Purple Heart for his participation in World War II.
served in the armed forces from April, 1942 until November 15,
was a gunners mate in the Navy. He entered the service on
October 6, 1942 and served until November 10, 145. He served on
the heavy cruiser the USS Salt Lake City.
Kenneth R. Black
entered the army on June 22, 1941 and was attached to the 128th
Infantry. He was killed in action on the island of New Guinea
on December 28, 1942.
Lloyd D. Bucher
Lloyd enlisted on November
8, 1939 and served until December 6, 1945.
Robert C. Craig
was killed in action in France on December 1, 1941. He was a
Tech 5th Grade.
William M. Cassidy
was killed in World War II.
Elroy D. Munck
was an in the Infantry in England. He participated in the
Ianer M. Munck
was in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific during World War II.
Donald joined the
Navy during World War II and was eventually assigned to the
Heavy Cruiser USS Chicago (CA 29). While onboard the USS Chicago
they were sent to patrol the area around Guadalcanal. While
there they protected the withdrawal of the Marines from the
island, and also the landing of the Army Units to be stationed
While on patrol,
they received word of a Japanese Task Force moving towards
Guadalcanal. The USS Chicago was one of the ships ordered to
find and intercept this task force. The USS Chicago was
operating in the area of Rennell Island, when Japanese Planes
first attacked it. These planes came in over the island under
the radar, and were not spotted, until they were almost on the
ship. The USS Chicago was struck by 1 plane, and took several
other hits, but managed to stay afloat. Their sisters ship then
took the USS Louisville the USS Chicago in tow the USS
The next day a
sea tug hooked up to the USS Chicago to tow it in for repairs. A
short while later Japanese Planes attacked again, and the USS
Chicago took more hits. The order to abandon ship was given, and
Donald had to jump from the deck of the ship into the water.
Which for Donald was no small accomplishment as he could barely
swim. Luckily was picked up by a life raft.
While waiting for
re-assignment, Donald worked with the Tug and Barge Units
operating in the Solomon Islands. He was later re-assigned to
the newly commissioned refrigeration ship the USS Arequipa
(AF-31). Here he served out the rest of his time during the war,
until returning home after the Japanese Surrender.
Submitted by his son.
Dr. Robert M. Winjum
Robert was a
glider pilot and flight officer with the 9th Air
Force, 436th Group of the 81st Squandron.
Thomas A. Newland
Thomas served in
the Army and Army Air Corps from July 10, 1942 to July 30, 1946.
George E. Larson
George lost his
life on Okinawa on June 16, 1945.
Donald G. Ryan
Donald was in a
Captain in the U.S. Marine Air Corps. He was a pilot in the
Victor A. Wiser
Victor served in
the U.S. Infantry from February, 1942 to October, 1945 and was
in five major campaigns in the ETO.
Francis (Frank) Higgins
Frank died in
combat over New Guinea during World War II.
Donald J. Spomer
Donald was a
Corporal in the U.S. Army Air Corps for 18 months.
Virgil T. Olson
Virgil was in the
Battle of the Bulge beginning to end. He served with the
Wesley W. Wilcox
Wesley was a
private with the 307th Infantry Division. He was
killed on Iwo Jima on May 17, 1945.
James A. Boocock
James was a
Brigadier General who led a company during the D-Day Invasion.
He served in the European Theatre during World War II.
John served in
the SD National Guard in 1937. He was in service as a full time
air force officer from college graduation in 1940 on.
Orlyn joined the
military enlisting at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas on January 22,
1942. He served overseas as a Sergeant in the Infantry in
Rhineland and Central Europe during World War II. During his
service he received the Bronze Star. He was discharged on
November 13, 1945.
William A. Hauff
William was a
Major with the 82nd Airborne Division during the
invasion of Normandy. He participated in the Battle of Bulge
and the liberation of Holland.
William C. Hauff
William was a
RMIC who served aboard a naval LST during the engagements with
the enemy in the Pacific Theater.
Herbert E. Skalinder
Herbert served in
the U.S. Army Air Corps against the enemy in the European
Ashton was killed
in Action during combat on Okinawa in the Pacific Theater.
Roland was a 1st
Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He served from June 2, 1943 to
August 9, 1946.
Floyd P. Stapf
Floyd was a Petty
Officer in the U.S. Navy. He served from December 8, 1941 to
the end of the War.