Cecil Dale Sanderson was born on July 7, 1914, on a farm near Aurora, South
Dakota, in Brookings County. Raised
in the Lutheran faith, Cecil was with the federal extension service
before entering the service in March of 1942. The following is his
story, told in his own words.
Service Record: I took two years of basic military training during my first
two years at South Dakota State University. This was required of all
able bodied males at that time. Primarily for reasons of pay and
clothes--this was during the "dirty thirties"--I took two
years of advanced military training which gave me the military rank
of 2nd Lieutenant should I be called into military service. I
graduated from SDSU in 1937 with a BS degree in Animal Science.
I was called into military service in March 1942. I was
assigned to the newly formed 95th Infantry Division located at Camp
Swift near Austin, Texas. Since there was a span of time between
college graduation (1937) and the time we were called into the
service (1942) we were first required to take a three-month
refresher course at Ft. Benning, Georgia.
Our division spent three years stateside before going overseas.
We arrived in France in June of 1944 shortly after D-Day. The 95th
Division of which our infantry unit was part started at St. Lo,
France. In our trek to Berlin we were part of Gen. George Patton's
Third Army. They battled fiercely along the Moselle River amid heavy
casualties on both sides. Sanderson's company faced their final
battle east of the Rhine River on April 3, 1945. During the
surrender of German soldiers, Capt. Sanderson procured a rare and
valuable souvenir: a specially marked P-38 pistol which he took from
a German officer and carried with him for the remainder of the war.
Cecil recently donated the weapon to the Brookings County Historical
Society Museum in Volga, South Dakota.
Camp Encounter: Yes, we liberated a forced labor unit of about 2,000 men They
were very thin and undernourished. Of course, our first job was to
supply them with food and clothing. We also liberated a large group
of Russian prisoners, mostly men but a few ladies. There again we
responded to their food and health needs. One of our main problems
was to keep the liberated units from scattering among civilians.
Getting them settled down and their major needs satisfied was no
easy task. Few of them escaped to "get even" with local
civilians who were partly responsible for keeping them confined.
Awards: Bronze Star