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. 

Wallace  “Bud”  Kamopp

Born on February 2, 1925 on a farm near Ferney to Louis and Ida Karnopp.  He graduated with the class of 1943 from Groton High School.  In March 1944, he went to Farragut, Idaho for boot camp and twelve weeks in gunnery school, graduating Seaman First Class.  He came home for a brief leave in October, then reported to Shoemaker, CA.  He was assigned to the destroyer, USS Hull, with the Third Fleet in Novembers.    As the Third Fleet was preparing for the invasion of Luzon, Phillipines, a typhoon struck.  Tankers were unable to refuel the destroyers due to winds topping 110 knots.  With their fuel tanks empty, their massive guns and ammunition made them dangerously top heavy.  The ships were thrown on their sides.  On December 18, 1944, the USS Hull sank, trapping most of the crew, out of the 250 man crew only 62 survived.  Admiral Nimitz said the typhoon, “represented a more crippling blow to the Third Fleet than it suffered from everything the Japanese had thrown at them in action.”  The Third Fleet lost 790 lives, 21 ships were damaged (nine put out of action) and 150 planes were destroyed.  Wallace Kamopp was lost at sea.

Submitted by his sisters, 6/15/2000


Edwin Rieger

Served in World War II in the Southwest Pacific.  He was awarded four Bronze stars for New Guinea, Southern Phillipines, Bismarck Archipelago,  and East Indies Campaigns.  Also received the Good Conduct Medal.

Submitted by his children, 6/16/2000


Ralph Christensen

Native of Badger, SD.  He served as the copilot of a bomber group stationed at Diss, England.  He flew missions over Germany and had to walk through France after a forced landing. 

Submitted by his daughter, 6/23/2000

Dr. Norm Meriweather

Native of St. Lawrence, SD.  He did not fight in the war but trained officers in Ft. Benning, Georgia.

Submitted by his daughter  6/17/200


Robert F. Wehrhamp

Sioux Falls resident. Inducted on August 18, 1942 and discharged on November 25, 1945.  He was wounded on the Moselle River, France, September 10, 1944.

Submitted by his daughter, 6/14/2000


Joe A. Kukal

Inducted into the service at Kadoka, SD.  Served in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1946.  He spent two years overseas in France and Germany. 

Submitted by his wife, 6/11/2000


Elmer M. “Swede” Gulbranson

World War II veteran who served in the European Theatre and was at Bastogne, France during the Battle of the Bulge.

Submitted by his son 6/14/2000


James David Gilbert

Served in the US Army as a 2nd Lieutenant in the European Theatre from 1944-1945.  He earned a bronze star and other decorations.  He participated in the Battle of the Bulge.

Submitted by his daughters 6/15/2000


Marvin Melius

Served in the U.S. Navy from 1940 to 1945.  Was stationed at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and is a member of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association.

Submitted by his children, 6/10/00


Paul P. Kleinsasser

Served in the army and a survivor of the Normandy Invasion.


Benjamin J. Larson

Served from 1942 to 1945.  T. SGT, 1st Armored Division, Italian and North African Campaigns

Submitted by his wife.


Marvin V. Green

Served from 1943 to 1945.  CPL, 283rd AAF Base Unit, Galveston, Texas, Air Operations Specialist.

Submitted by his sister.


William Hook, Col. Ret.

Grew up in Oelrichs, SD and entered the army on June 25, 1942.  Commissioned in May, 1943 from OCS.  Became a Company Commander in November, 1943 and took a company of combat engineers into Normandy on June 10, 1944.  Served in the Korean and Viet Nam Wars as well.

Submitted by self, 8/18/2000


Charles Hartman and Bill Hartman

Killed in action, both as bomber crew members.  Chales was a gunner on a B-17 that disappeared and was presumed shot down over New Guinea early in 1942.  His brother was a flight engineer on a B-29 that was shot down over Tokyo four days before V-J Day in August,1945. 

Submitted by their nephew, 8/16/2000


Bill Robbenolt

Flew P-61 night fighters off Iwo Jima and Saipan in 1944.

Submitted by his son, 8/16/2000


Stanley Ellis Price

First LT. Serving in World War Ii in the African Campaign and in Italy. During his tour in Italy, he received a serious leg injury and received a Purple Heart.  He was awarded a Bronze Star, and a battlefield commission.  He passed away at his home on March 25, 2000 in Buffalo, SD.

Submitted by his sister, 8/11/2000.


Ruth Gilbertson and Rev. Edward A. Gilbertson

Ruth and Ed both served in World War II.  Ruth served 2 ˝ years overseas and was a combat nurse in three battles in New Guinea and the Phillipines.  She was awarded three battle stars. 

Submitted by her husband 4/7/2000


Ira Fern Bayne

Served in the Army’s 95th Division Infantry.  He was wounded November 27, 1944 in Metz.  He was awarded several medals. He died February 1, 1974.

Submitted by his sister in law 4/24/2000