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.

 

Don Fischer 

After having been wounded at Brest, France on September 19, 1944, I enjoyed being in a hospital about 15 miles west of Oxford, England for several months. When the medics thought I was well enough, they gave me a choice of going home for a medical discharge or staying in the war in an S.O.S non-combat unit. I joined the 343rd Ordinance Company at Looneville, France just off the southwest German border. Shortly after that, the Hitlerites surrendered and we were on an eastward trek across southern Germany making stops at Bad Kissingen, Dachau, Munich and Salzburg, Austria. 

In Bad Kissingen, Germany, we were staying in the Kurhaus Hotel across the street from a park which had a managed mountain stream flowing through and a stone and mortar wall separating the park from the stream. 

To get to my story, the first full day of this stop, several of us went hunting in the black forest with carbines and a sporting Thompson sub-machine gun. We bagged a couple rabbits and two small deer. This accomplished, we cleaned and gave them to the company cooks. Not having enough game for the whole company, we were looking for more game. As we were strolling in the park the next day, we discovered a multitude of German Brown trout in the stream, so we decided to go fishing sportingly with hand grenades. This promised to be a sure strategy for a good catch. Downstream in the park, the stream was shallow and there was a waterfall there, where upon we posted several guys across the shallow stream above the
waterfall to gather the bounty that we were about to establish.

We began to hide behind the stone wall and throw hand grenades into the water. Upon explosion, the concussion caused the trout to go belly-up and float down stream to the guys posted there, where upon they scooped the fish up and we had assurance of the best meal in the whole war.

If a German game warden reads this and tries to look me up, I will categorically deny the whole story.
A member of the 29th Infantry Division and the 343rd Ordinance Company.

 

2LT Donald Schoenwether Morrison

15th AF, 454th Bombardment Group, 736th Bombardment Squadron Killed in Action 19 March 1944 on a mission near Cerkvenjak, Yugoslavia (now Slovenia) My Father died March 19, 1944, two days after his 25th birthday. As his only child and at 8 months old, I have no memories of him. Born in Brookings, SD, he was the fifth child and third son in a family of 3 daughters and 4 sons. All 4 sons served in WWII. The oldest, Maj. Joseph Wallace Morrison, was in the Army at the Academic Regiment Tank Destroyer School, Camp Hood, TX. Lyle Edward Morrison was a Navy radioman stationed at Alameda Naval Base in CA. Dad was Army Air Forces stationed in Italy when he was KIA. Sgt. Howard Warren Morrison was in the 4th Air Force as a Lower Ball Gunner on the B-17 and then Right Scanner on the B-29.

Dad enlisted in the South Dakota National Guard in January 1937, the year he graduated from Brookings High School. Discharged in January 1940, he re-enlisted in June, but received an Honorable Discharge when, after 3 years at South Dakota State College, he moved to California to work in the aircraft industry. His first college yearbook, the 1938 Jackrabbit, shows him in a photo of ROTC's "D" Company.

My Father dreamed of being a pilot and was accepted for Aviation Cadet Training. However, this opportunity disappeared when he married Bernita June Chambers, on November 15, 1941, since Cadets could not be married. Three weeks after their wedding, Pearl Harbor was attacked and the US entered the war. Employed by Lockheed Aircraft in Burbank, CA, Dad went from ROTC Aviation Cadet to PFC Army Infantry, with Basic Training March-November 1942 at Camp Roberts, CA.

Still aspiring to be a pilot, as rules eased and perhaps due to his earlier Cadet training, Dad applied to and was accepted by the Army Air Corps. Schooling was in Texas, so Mom returned to SD to live with her mother shortly before my birth. Four weeks later we joined him in Texas where he received his Wings in August 1943. After a month of bomber training in New Mexico, Dad was transferred to South Carolina, while we returned to Brookings to wait for war's end and his return.

Because of the intensity of the war raging in Europe, Dad was not allowed a final furlough before going overseas. Just before Christmas, 1943, he was sent to a base in Southern Italy where he flew bombing missions as copilot of a B-24 (Liberator) bomber. On their fifth mission, the plane was hit by flak and then downed by pursuit by enemy aircraft, killing six of the 10 crewmembers. Crewmembers were 2nd Lt. James R. Peters, S/Sgt. Lynn M. Ripley, S/Sgt. Melbourne M. Spencer, S/Sgt. Gus Bryan, S/Sgt. Luther F. Shipley, 2nd Lt. George E. Wade, S/Sgt. Harry G. Squires, S/Sgt. Thomas A. Inman, 2nd Lt. Homer F. Roland, and my father. The four survivors, Ripley, Roland, Squires and Inman, were taken POW and held until the end of the war. I'd like to share a letter dated July 7, 1945, sent by 2nd Lt Inman to Dad's mother as a tribute to him and the others. It reads,

Dear Mrs. Morrison:

    As I believe you know, I was radio operator and nose gunner on your son Donald's plane. Pardon me for not writing sooner, but I haven't gotten over the loss of these boys -- all such fine men and true buddies of mine. Not saying this because I'm writing to you, but your son Donald was one of the finest soldiers and most respected men I've known. He always looked out for his men first and himself last. The whole crew thought the world of him. The day we were shot down, it was by German Messerschmidt fighters, we were flying tail-end and there were just too many of the enemy for us. They shot our tail off and tore up the whole ship. Regardless of the condition we were in, Lt. Morrison stayed at his position with Lt. Peters trying to hold the ship up so his men would have a chance. I was in the nose, but I know he was in position until the end because I heard his orders over the interphone telling the rest to leave the ship, and he also cut the switches to avoid fire.

    After that, we went into a spin and in the pilots compartment they didn't have a chance to get out. I wasn't able to get out until about 400 feet, so I know that Lt. Morrison and the rest went down with the ship.

    Yes, Mrs. Morrison, your son was a real hero. I'm proud to have had the honor of flying with him and his kind.
  If there are any questions, or if I can enlighten you in any way, please write -- I'm at your service, Mrs. Morrison.

Very truly yours,
Thomas Inman

Submitted 9/4/01

 

Freeman J. Gilbert, MD

Dr. Gilbert.  He graduated from medical school in1941, went to Belle Fourche to practice, and was inducted into the army in the summer 1944.  He was stationed at Carlile Barracks, PA, andassigned to Mason General Hospital on Long Island.  Later to a hospitalin New Orleans and then to West Ashford General Hospital in Virginia.  later stationed at Newton D. Baker Hospital in West Virginia to care for returning GIS, most of whom were in need of psychiatric care along with their war wounds.He was discharged in 1946 and returned to Belle Fourche.  The Korean Conflict returned him to active duty from 1949 to 1950; as a Major in Camp Carson, Colorado and then to Ft Richardson, Alaska.

 

Col. Harry Jean Harper

Mitchell, South Dakota
October 28, 1901 - December 22, 1944
Survivor of Bataan, Survivor of Corregidor
Japanese Prisoner of War

Harry Jean Harper was born October 28, 1901. Jean served in the First World War for six months at the age of 16. His outfit was ready to be shipped across when the Armistice was signed. Jean entered the United States Military Academy at West Point where he graduated in 1925. From there he went successively to Ft. Russell, to Hawaii, to Ft. Lewis, to Ft. Sill, and to Oregon. In October 1941, after getting his family settled at home in Mitchell, he went off to help hold the Philippines.

As an officer in the field artillery, Jean fought at Bataan until its fall, then escaping to Corregidor, fought there until surrender May 6, 1942. After the fall of Corregidor, Jean spent the next two years as a prisoner of war. Although suffering intermittently from malaria, Jean never ceased to inspire his comrades, officers, and men with his own courage and hope. He never talked about how tough things were, but only about the good, hearty things that were to be done.

Harper was on a Japanese boat headed for Japan, which set sail from the Philippines December 13, 1944. The vessel was hit by a torpedo two days later in Subic Bay. Jean was among the survivors who swam ashore, but the exposure proved too much for his body already weakened by sickness and malnutrition. Jean died a week later with his head on the lap of his West Point classmate, Col. A. Hopkins. Jean's last words were the names of his wife and children.

The Legion of Merit was awarded posthumously to Col. Harper on September 6, 1945. Colonial Harper was cited for his work in the defense of Bataan from December 1941, until the fall of the Philippines in April 1943.

This entry was respectfully submitted by Meredith Ann Cash, great-niece of Col. Harper.

Information for this entry was provided by:
The United States Military Academy, West Point, New York
Association of Graduates

Photo of Col. Harry Jean Harper

 

Doyle M. Chambers

SM3C Doyle M. "Buster" Chambers, 08697946, died 20 May 1945 of injuries received aboard the USS LONGSHAW. On the morning of May 18, 1945, following a 4-day period of fire support, the USS Longshaw (DD-559) ran aground on a coral reef off Okinawa. As the USS Arikara attempted to tow the ship off the reef, a Japanese shore battery opened fire. The stranded destroyer attempted to fight back but, as she opened fire, her bow was completely blown off by a hit in the forward magazine. Of the 313 men on board, 86 of her crew died with their ship and an additional 97 were wounded. Buster Chambers died of wounds two days later.

The second son of four sons and a daughter born to George Louis Chambers and Muriel Emily (Felton) Chambers, Marion Doyle Chambers was born 10 October 1919 in Brookings, SD. Mr. Chambers' sudden death from an appendicitis attack in 1933, left his wife a widow with five children ranging from 15 to 3 years in age. Buster (13), older brother George Wyman (15), and their mother went to work to support the family, which was forced to leave their farm in Bushnell and move in with relatives in Brookings.

Working for Moxon's Dairy, Buster was exempt from military duty, but enlisted  (as Doyle M. Chambers) in the Navy on March 6, 1943. His remains rest in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, HI, in Section M, Grave 1372.

 

Leland L. Deuschle

Leland L. Deuschle of Bison SD was inducted into the US Army on 29 June 1944 at Fort Snelling, MN. After basic Training he was attached to Co. A 290th Engineering Combat Battalion and sent overseas arriving in Europe 26 February 1945. He participated in the Rhineland and Central European Campaigns. He was entitled to wear the Distinguished Unit Badge #11,Army of Occupation Medal, and the Germany, European-African-Middle Eastern Theater Service Medal. Hr was an electrician in civilian life and he continued this in his Military service. Corporal

Deuschle was discharged on 25 June 1946 at the Separation Center, Camp McCoy, WI. He married Bernice Ingrahm and the had three Daughters, Paulette, Rochelle and Marci.

Submitted by his Daughters

 

Frank Raymond Anderson

Frank Raymond Anderson was born in Bixby SD, raised and school in Bison in Perkins County.  He entered the military in 1942, being stationed first at Camp Barkley TX.  From there he ended up at Camp Stoneman near San Francisco.  It was here he left on the USS HERMITAGE in March of 1943.  The ship with 10,000 soldiers made its way to Melbourne Australia and then to

Bombay India arriving in May 1943.  Next it was across the subcontinent to Burma.  During his time overseas Dad worked in the G-3 section as Clerk and Chief Clerk.  G-3 dealt with Plans and Training.  From Shingbwiyand, the Ledo Road made its way through Burma for the purpose of delivering supplies to the Chinese.  A great many Chinese soldiers served with the Americans in

the CBI.  While serving Dad worked under General "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell and saw Lord Louis Mountbatten and General Merrill and the "Burma Surgeon" Gordon Seagraves.  When Myitkyina was liberated from the Japanese it was time to head home.  Dad left from Calcutta aboard the GENERAL W.F. HASE in June 1945, south and then across the Arabian Sea, through the Red Sea, the Suez Canal, across the Mediterranean, landing at last at Hampton Roads Virginia.  He and mom were married at Zeona SD on August 15, 1945.  After they were married Dad went to Ft. Leonard Wood Missouri from which he was discharged.  They then went to the U of South Dakota.  Dad taught high school history for 30 years before retiring in 1984.

 

Matt Hukki

Matt came to the United States in l906 from Finland. He served in the U.S. Army in WW 1 and eventually lived in Hecla, S.D. with his wife Laura. They had six sons and two daughters.. all sons served in the military.. 4 of them during WW2. Olaf Richard was in the navy, Leo Kenneth was in the army, Robert Bruce was in the navy, and James Harold in the Marines.

In addition, my husband, Harlan Kolden, was in the army and our two sons were also in the military, marines and navy, specifically. Ruth Adams

Ruth (Kruse) Adams, was employed by the US Civil Service with the Board of Economic Welfare in Washington DC from Feb. 2nd until Ienlisted it the WAVES, USNR on 11/15/42 ONOP Washington DC. as a Apprentice Seaman. On 12-15-42 I started Boot Camp at Ceder Falls, Iowa

USNT SchvCollege. Upon completion of this training, I was sent to US.NTSch at Milleggeville Georgia with a rating of S2c. I graduated Yeoman 3nd class and was shipped to Washington, DC where I began my duties that consisted of top secret work in the Casualties Department as assistant to Commander J.H. Sanders in charge of the Department. My job was to research the Jackets(files) of Navy men and compare their records with the ships Navy Log to see if they were actually on duty at the time of the disaster of a ship sank or other battle. Then it was my

responsibility to type a letter to the next of kin and advise the that their Navy man was mission in action or dead. This was a difficult task.I did some dictation for Commander Sanders regarding battles and casualties. I’m proud to have served my country during WWII. I was given an Honorable Discharge from the US Navy in Washington, DC on 8-26-45.

Submitted by Ruth Ell (Kruse) Adams Yeoman 2nd Class 446 26 19 USNR

Harold F. Buchheim

The Hyde County American Legion initiated a new segment into its Memorial Day Program Monday with their awarding of a "Freedom Fighter Award." The first recipient was Hyde County’s most highly decorated soldier, Harold F. Buchheim. Here is the presentation as it was read at the Memorial Day program held Monday morning.

Harold F. Buchheim entered the U.S. Army on April 7, 1942. He received his basic and specialized training in Heavy Machine Gun at Camp Roberts, Calif., and was assigned to the 144th Infantry Regiment. He later was assigned to Company ‘D’, 141st Infantry, 36th Division which entered combat duty in France on September 1, 1944.

On September 25, 1944, Harold Buchheim received the Combat Infantry Badge symbolic of combat in major battle. On October 23, 1944, while on the offensive in the Vosges Mountains of France, Buchheim and the 1st Battalion penetrated two and one-half miles behind enemy lines. But that afternoon, a strong enemy force surrounded his unit isolating them on a high ridge without rations, water, or communications. The command post desperately tried to get supplies to Buchheim and his unit by firing artillery shells filled with supplies and airdrops, which failed. The 1st Battalion became known as the "Lost Battalion".

Late on the fifth day, the air corps managed to drop the badly needed supplies to the Lost Battalion. The evening of the sixth day, Sgt. Edward Guy of New York was on an outpost when he noticed someone advancing the ridge jumping, yelling like crazy and laughing. He grabbed the approaching soldier and hugged him. Pfc. Matt Sakamot just looked at him, and with a lump in his throat said, "Do you guys need any cigarettes?" The Lost Battalion had survived. For six days, without any supplies, Buchheim and his fellow machine gunners repelled numerous German attacks inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy.

For his heroic achievements and leadership, SSgt. Harold Buchheim was awarded the Bronze Star. His Citation reads: SSgt. Harold F. Buchheim, 37249163, Company D, 141st Infantry Regiment, for heroic achievement in combat in France. Sgt. Buchheim was in charge of a heavy machine gun crew assigned a sector of Company D’s all-around defense. When the enemy launched an initial assault against his position, he swiftly opened fire and drove back the attackers. The second time the hostile troops charged his sector, Sgt. Buchheim ordered his men to hold their fire and let the enemy advance into a trap. When the hostile forces reached a point within 100 feet of his gun, he directed rapid and effective bursts of fire into their midst, killing at least 10 of them. During the day, the determined enemy launched three more attacks. Each attempt to overrun the position was frustrated by Sgt. Buchheim’s courage, sound judgment, and brilliant leadership. Later in the day, he personally killed two enemy snipers with accurate machine gun fire. You are awarded the Bronze Star Medal for heroic achievement in combat.

During the long, cold winter of 1944-45, while fighting on Alsace Plain in France, his company encountered the bitterest fighting and shelling thus far. On December 11, 1944, while protecting the right flank of Company ‘D’, the man from Hyde County so distinguished himself in the face of savage enemy attacks, that Harold Buchheim was awarded the nation’s third highest military decoration, the Silver Star for gallantry in action. A war correspondent wrote about the fighting men of Company ‘D’ this way, "No army had ever accomplished so much. That these men had managed to stand the grueling beatings which marked every encounter with the enemy is remarkable. The Germans last assault was with the elements of two divisions but they were driven back with massed firepower after 12 hours of bitter fighting."

His Citation reads: Harold F. Buchheim, 37249163. SSGT. Company D, 141st Infantry Regiment, is awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action. SSGT Buchheim was assigned the mission of protecting the right flank of Company D with his heavy machine gun. On December 11, 1944, during a savage enemy counter attack, the hostile artillery scored a direct hit on his gun position killing two members of his gun crew and wounding a third. The traversing mechanism was knocked off the gun and the water jacket was punctured. In spite of heavy artillery shelling, SSGT Buchheim recovered the weapon and moved it through direct small arms fire to another sector. Although handicapped by a shortage of men and by the damages inflicted on the gun, he swiftly put the weapon into action and again directed rapid, effective bursts of fire into the midst of the hostile attackers. From his new position, he inflicted 18 casualties on the enemy and was largely responsible for the repulse of the determined flank assault. His gallant actions reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States.

In the spring of 1945, Buchheim and his unit began their final march against the enemy penetrating the Siegfried line and advancing through southern Germany into Austria where the European War ended on May 8, 1945.

During his service to this country, Harold F. Buchheim was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, and WWII Victory Ribbon, the EAME Ribbon with Four Bronze Service Stars, the Combat Infantry Badge, and the Good Conduct Medal. On November 23, 1945, Harold Buchheim received his honorable discharge at Camp Carson, Colo., and returned to his farm north of Highmore where he still lives.

Harold and his wife, Alice, are the parents of six girls, Mary, Linda, Shirley, Gladys, Marilyn, and Thelma Jean, and two sons, Elmer and Melvin.

It is with great honor and with great pleasure that the Hyde County American Legion Frank Vopat Post No. 3 presents Harold F. Buchheim with the first Freedom Fighter Award.

Also present at the presentation were his brother Irving; and sisters, Eleanor Jensen, Alice Sampson, and LaVerna Kutz.

 

John Cole

John Cole was the first to go.  He enlisted in the Army Air Force in 1941 and served on medium bombers throughout the entire African Campaign.  After a brief rotation back to the States for R&R, he was then sent to Europe and remained there until Germany’s surrender.  He completed over 120 missions during his tour.  He was awarded the Air Medal with ten silver oak leaf clusters, the European, African, Middle East, American Campaign Ribbon, WWII Victory Ribbon, and the Good Conduct Medal.  He attained the rank of Staff Sergeant and was discharged in August, 1945.

 

Curtis Cole

Curtis Cole joined the U.S. Navy and trained for submarine duty aboard the U.S.S. Silversides.  After his completion of training, he was sent to the South Pacific where he served as an Electricians Mate, 2nd Class.  Altogether, he served 3 years, 8 months of which 35 months were spent overseas.

 

Hobart Cole

Hobart Cole joined the Army Air Force in 1943.  After basic training, he was sent back to Sioux Falls for radio training, and then to Yuma, Arizona for gunnery training.  He continued on to Casper, Wyoming and was assigned to a flight crew for combat training on B-24 Heavy Bombers.  When their training was complete, they picked up a new B-24 at Topeka, Kansas and began their overseas journey.  He was stationed in Grotaglia, Italy and was assigned to the 719th Bomb Squadron, 449th Bomb Group, 15th Air Force.  He flew 15 missions before Germany surrendered and was then rotated back to the States.  After a 30-day leave, he was sent back to Sioux Falls where they were to regroup and go on to the South Pacific.  While in Sioux Falls, Japan surrendered so no further training was needed.  Most of the crew had enough points to get discharged and Hobart was discharged at Lowery Field in Denver, Colorado in 1945.  He received 4 campaign medals and 4 battle stars and attained the rank of Corporal.  He presently lives in Hudson, S. Dak.

 

Coleman A. Lund

Coleman entered the Army on August 26, 1942.  After spending a week at Leavenworth, Kansas, he went to Camp Haan, California for basic training.  After basic training, he transferred to the 78th A. A. Gun Battalion.  He reported to San Francisco and shipped out on April 14, 1943 and remained on board ship until May 22nd.  He participated in the Invasion of Attu Island in the Aleutians and, after the successful invasion, remained there for the next 21 months.  During this time, he helped build up the Island defenses and continued to train.  At the end of the 21 months of duty, he boarded a ship and returned to the States and continued on at several different camps.  He received his discharge in November of 1945.  During his time in service, (31 months) he never received a furlough.  His present address is: Box 377, Hudson, S. Dak. 57034.

Submitted by Bergstrom-Bodeen Post No. 128, Hudson Legion.         

Harold Simunek

Harold Simunek joined the U.S. Army on October 3rd, 1943.  He received his basic training and Auto Mechanics training at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri.  He was then assigned to the 1380th Engineer Petroleum Distribution Company and his training continued at Camp Clarborne, Louisiana for the next four weeks.  He left for the South Pacific on August 8th, 1944 aboard the U.S.S. General George M. Randall and arrived in Australia where they waited for an escort to continue on to India.  While stationed in India, the Company to which he was assigned was responsible for putting in place all the pipelines and pump stations from India to Burma, supplying petroleum to the troops at the front.  When Japan surrendered in September 1945, they took all of their equipment to China by way of the Burma Road.  Harold was in the last truck in the convoy and was responsible for repair of any vehicle that broke down on this long journey.  He was then assigned to the 3731st Quarter Master Truck Company where he was in charge of the Motor Pool.  On January 3rd, 1946, he was shipped home and was honorably discharged from active duty on February 2nd, 1946 with the rank of Technical Sergeant.  A few of the decorations he received were the Good Conduct Medal, and the Asiatic/Pacific Theatre Ribbon.  He has a few pictures from his time in the Army but the one we all remember and are the most familiar with is the one of him seated upon an elephant somewhere in India, installing a pipeline.  Harold presently lives in Canton, S. Dak.

Submitted by his children.

Oliver A. Sorlye

Oliver entered the Army March 19, 1941.  After basic training, he was assigned to the U.S. Army Medical Corp and served with the 48th Surgical Hospital and the 128th Evacuation Hospital.  His major campaigns include:  D-Day in North Africa, November 8th, 1942, D-Day in Sicily, July, 1943, and D-Day plus four Normandy, France on June 10, 1944.  He served all across Europe to include Belgium and Germany.  He served 3 years, 11 days overseas and was discharged on August 22, 1945 at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin with the rank of Technician 5th Grade Corporal.  He presently resides on a farm north of Hudson, S. Dak.

Submitted by Bergstrom-Bodeen post 128, Hudson

 

Virgil Marvin Kroger

Virgil entered the service on 11/20/1943.  He served in the Pacific Theatre from 10/11/1944 to 0 7/01/1946 including action on Iwo Jima and the Occupation of Japan.

 

John O Randen

John O Randen, White Butte, SD was inducted into the US Army on 9 June 1942 at Ft. Snelling MN. After Basic training he was assigned to CO F 335 Engineering Battalion and was shipped overseas arriving in NATO on 13 April, 1943. He participated the Campaigns in Naples-Foggia, Rome-Arno, Southern France, Rhineland and Central Europe. He is entitled to wear the European-African, Middle Eastern Theater Ribbons and the Good Conduct Medal. Sgt. Randen was discharged 17 Nov. 1945 at the Separation Center Camp McCoy, WI.

  

Northern State College

Through the last century, Northern students and alums have been called to serve in every major armed conflict since the school’s funding.  More then 400 students, faculty or alumni fought in World War I.  World War II had an even greater impact.  Northern became the home to a U. S. Army school for glider pilots in 1942, and a navel flight training program beginning in 1943.  Lt. Cecil E. Harris, a Northern graduate, became the U.S. Navy’s second-leading fighter ace during the war.

A Cresbard native and graduate of Cresbard High School, Harris attended Northern State Teacher’s College sporadically from 1934 to 1941.  He received his teaching certificate and then taught in Onaka for three of those years.  Harris enlisted in the Navel Reserve program a year before the Pearl Harbor attack and completed the Civilian Pilot Training Course at Northern.  He joined the Navy in 1941, was at Jacksonville, Florida, for three weeks, then to Corpus Christi for flight training, where he won his wings in March of 1942.

Harris is credited with shooting down 24 enemy planes in South Pacific combat in less than six weeks during the second world war. He received numerous medals and honors for his heroic acts. Navy Cross, Silver Star Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, Five Gold Stars, American Defense Service Medal and more.

Gerald Krueger a Northern graduate Navy for 27 years.  He died in 1981.  In 1990, the wartime hero was inducted to the Carrier Aviation Hall of Fame. During a celebration welcoming Harris back to Cresbard from the war in 1944, he said: “Out there you fight in mud and rain and darkness-days of tireless activity, and you begin to wonder just what it is you are fighting for. . . But when you come home, and hear dad and granddad arguing about who should be president, and mother worrying about a pie she’s baking, and the youngsters having their kid fights-suddenly you know what you have been fighting for:  It’s just to see that no nation can come over here and spoil the fundamental, simple things of life for us”.

Kruger has spent the last two years researching Harris’ rise to war-time hero.   Krueger hopes to collect enough evidence to get the now deceased Harris yet another honor-The Congressional Medal of Honor.

Krueger got interested in Harris’ life as a member of the northern alumni board. “I started reading some things about him and I thought this was a real quality guy”, Krueger said. “He (Harris) really went up against the Japan’s finest pilots. . . he shot down 24 enemy planes he must have been so fearless and so good .”  Following the war Harris returned to Northern State, earned his BS in education, and returned to Cresbard to teach and later become the high school principal. In the fall of 1951, he was recalled to active duty. 

The influence of an unassuming college professor has helped head destruction on Uncle Sam’s enemies over the world’s battlefronts.

Northern State Teachers college’s mathematics professor, N. H. “Scout” Mewaldt has instructed a host of young flyers in the rudiments of aeronautics and an exceptional number of students have become outstanding members of the army and navy airforces.  Lt. Cecil Harris is one of those who received preliminary training under Mewaldt.  There are many others too, who have performed heroic deeds and received decorations for their ingenuity, resourcefulness and bravery.

The first aeronautics class was organized at NSTC in the fall of 1940, when the civil aeronautics-authority awarded Northern a contact for civilian pilot training.  President N. E. Steele was named coordinator of the program and Mewaldt was selected as chief ground school instructor and supervisor.

The first class completed 48 hours of ground school instruction under Mewaldt in navigation, meteorology, aircraft operation and civil air regulations.  Flight instruction was given by the Huron Flying Service, Inc.

The group completed its preliminary training here in January 10, 1941, and eight of the boys entered the service.

After the first class moved on, the course was changed to war training service and Mewaldt helped with the instruction of many more young men.

In the summer of 1942, the army stationed a glider school at NSTC and Mewaldt was named civilian ground school instructor