Richard Louis "Buddy" Olsen, Jr. was born on November 11, 1925 and was raised on the Atlantic coast on Sapelo Island, Georgia. Part of a maritime family he joined the merchant marine upon graduating high school and served on Liberty ships in the South Pacific. He described the extensive training received including nine months on merchant vessels in the South Pacific. He received a commission to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and was there when the Japanese surrendered in August 1945. He served for the next nine years transporting goods to war-damaged countries in Europe and Asia as part of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency under the Marshall Plan and bringing back passengers, including war brides and displaced persons. In 1955, he joined the U.S. Navy and served for 21 years in transport and supply service. Serving both at sea and ashore from a variety of stations, Olsen was part of the Commander of Naval Forces in Vietnam staff for one year in Saigon where he worked with the South Vietnamese in preparing them to take over the naval bases there. He died in St. Cloud, Minnesota, on February 28, 2013.
In an oral interview conducted by Mike McDonald on September 6, 1993, Robert "Bob" Duoos discussed his training and service during World War II as a member of the 80th Infantry Division in Europe. Duoos was born on January 15, 1923 and was raised in St. Paul, Minnesota. Duoos was drafted in to the U.S. Army in December of 1942. In this interview, Duoos described his experiences in the European Theater, including his interactions with the foreign civilians and the time he spent in England, France, Germany, Luxemburg, and Czechoslovakia. In this interview, Duoos discussed his participation in the liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar, Germany. He described the horrors of "The Beast of Buchenwald" from his own experiences and recounts the stories he heard from survivors of the camp. Duoos voiced his opinions on the leadership of General Patton and General Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Pacific Theater of World War II.
Lee Trunnell was born on July 10, 1922, and grew up in Monticello, Minnesota. He was 19 when America entered the war and served as an aircraft mechanic in the Pacific theater. Trunnell discussed his experience as a member of the Army Air Corps as an aircraft mechanic. In his interview, Tunnell described his training and preparation for his duties as a soldier in Guam. He included experiences and thoughts on homesickness, rebuilding Guam, the role of African Americans and women in the war effort and interactions with Japanese POWs. Trunnell discussed camp life in Guam and the impact on the maintenance crews when crewmen or planes did not return from missions. Trunnell also shared his participation in preparing the Enola Gay for its mission over Hiroshima to drop the first atomic bomb.
Chester Judd was born on Apr 2, 1916 and served as a first lieutenant in the Air Force during World War II. . He was stationed in England from September 1944 to late 1945 and was a B-17 copilot on 35 missions. Judd described camp life, including food and lodging, and explains how the planes were organized for actual missions. He described several combat experiences and how pilots and crew dealt with the strain, particularly flying his final mission. He returned to the United States and flew C-47 cargo planes to transport wounded veterans to hospitals across the country. After the war he became a farmer. He died on November 15, 1995.
Matt Kremer was the ball turret gunner on a B-17 plane during World War II. He was drafted into the army and trained in several camps around the United States. Throughout the interview Kremer described camp life including morale, food, discipline, and personal pastimes. Kremer participated in five bombing missions before being part of the second Schweinfurt Raid in 1943 over Germany, which cost the 8th Air Force over 60 planes and 600 casualties. Wounded by enemy fire, Mr. Kremer bailed out of his plane after it was shot down. Doctors amputated his leg and Kremer spent the next year in a German prison hospital recovering from his wounds. Kremer described his interactions with other prisoners and his doctors throughout the interview. He returned to the United States as part of a repatriation of wounded prisoners and sailed on a neutral Swedish vessel. Kremer described his efforts to readjust to civilian life after the war and the impact his wounds had upon his post-war life.
E.V. "Gene" Sundberg was born on February 2, 1925. A native of Brainerd, he enlisted immediately after high school in the Army Air Corps and trained to become a gunner but eventually became a B-17 pilot stationed in England. Despite flying 23 missions mostly over northern Germany, his crew suffered no wounds and his plane was never severely damaged. However, Sundberg told many stories of planes that were lost, comrades who did not return from missions, and of several near-misses for his crew. Sundberg described the many difficulties involved with a successful mission including flak fire, fighter escorts, the ever changing weather, the dangers involved in flying in tight formation, and flying with dangerous cargo. Sundberg also described base life, including food, dress, discipline, comradery, and specifically how quickly crews from other planes not returning from missions. After the German surrender in May 1945, he flew for the Army Airways Communication System where he was able to celebrate the Japanese surrender in London. He died on July 19, 2001, in Brainerd, Minnesota.
In an oral history conducted by Kris Wiggs on September 27, 1992, Clifton L. Gawtry discussed his experience as a flight instructor for the United States Navy during World War II. Gawtry was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa, on September 29, 1923. In 1941, after graduating high school in Minneapolis, Minnesota, he enlisted in the United States Navy in the V-5 program. After various flight schools for eighteen months, Gawtry became a flight instructor in Jacksonville and Pensacola, Florida. Gawtry recounted his experiences and comments on various aspects of flight and flight instruction. In 1944, he married his wife, Alice, and had four children. From 1949 to 1963, Gawtry served in a reserve squadron until he retired. He died on April 2, 2000 at the age of 76.
In an oral interview conducted by David Overy on September 4, 1992, Clair A. Dziuk discussed his experiences in the construction of the Alcan Highway, from 1941 to 1943. Dziuk was born April 5, 1907 in Benton County, Minnesota, where he was raised. In this interview Dziuk describes the day to day life of building the Alcan Highway, from working with Canadians and the Army, camp life, and the wildlife of Canada.
In an oral history conducted by David Overy on August 5, 1992, Kenneth J. Porwoll discussed his experiences as an armored tank battalion sergeant and Japanese prisoner of war during World War II. He born on April 13, 1920, in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Porwoll was raised in Brainerd, Minnesota. In 1938, Porwoll joined the National Guard, and was activated into the service in 1941 as sergeant in an armored tank battalion in the Philippines. During World War II, he was captured by the Japanese in 1942, and participated in the Bataan Death March. He was then imprisoned for the next three and a half years in Japanese prisoner camps. In addition, he detailed the day to day life in the camps, living in a tropical climate with little to no food, water, and personal space, and living with illnesses like dysentery, malaria, and dengue fever. Porwoll described the kindness of the Filipino people. The Filipino would go out of their way to provide food, water, and cigarettes to the prisoners whenever they had the opportunity, even risking the punishment of death. Porwoll discussed the guilt of being a survivor and the luck that was involved in making it through another day. After the war, Porwoll was informed that he would probably be unable to have children because of the malnutrition and abuse he endured. Despite that assessment and back pain, Porwoll and his wife Mary Ellen had nine children. Outside of his military career, he worked for Capital Gears for thirty years and was an active volunteer in Minneapolis VA Hospital and the Listening House in St. Paul. Kenneth J. Porwoll died on November 11, Veterans Day, 2013 at the age of 93.
In an oral history conducted by David Overy on August 5, 1992, James S. Gabriel discussed his experience as an executive officer in the 143rd Battalion of the United States Army during World War II. Raised in St. Paul, Minnesota, He enlisted in the National Guard in 1938 and joined the United States Army in 1941 when the United States entered World War II. In this interview, Gabriel described his experiences in the Battle of the Bulge and the demilitarization efforts of Germany by the Allied Forces. In addition, he discussed his impression of the various foreign civilians that he encountered while serving in Europe. After World War II, Gabriel discharged from the Army, but served on active duty for the U.S. during the Korean War. Lastly, Gabriel recounted his life as a result of his military experience, both good and bad. He had married his wife, Beulah, and had three children. In 1973, Gabriel married his second wife, Joan, and had three stepchildren. Gabriel retired at the rank of Brigadier General (BVT) and was a supervisor at Western Electric for thirty years. He died on December 17, 2001.
Clem Miller was born on May 5, 1922 in Duluth, MN. He joined the Minnesota National Guard in 1939 and was inducted into the Army in 1941. He and his unit, the 125th Field Artillery in the 34th Infantry Division, were sent to the European theater, and he saw action in North Africa and Italy. Miller directed artillery fire on the battlefield as a surveyor had a wide variety of combat experiences including artillery barrages, air raids, sniper fire, minefields, and friendly fire. In North Africa he patrolled the battlefield after the Allied victory and guarded POWs. In Italy, he served with the 100th Infantry Division and the 92nd Infantry (segregated units of Japanese Americans and African Americans, respectively). Throughout the interview, Miller gave his opinions on the quality of American troops as well as the German and Italian soldiers, their respective armaments, and the civilians he encountered. Miller wrote about his military experiences in a book entitled Some Things You Never Forget. He died on August 27, 2008 in Hermantown, MN.
Born on June 25, 1919, Lloyd Klosowsky was married and a father when he was drafted into the Army shortly after the start of the war. He described his infantry training in Texas and his travel across the Atlantic Ocean on the ship Queen Elizabeth. He saw extensive action throughout the European theater as a sergeant in the 90th Infantry Division. He was involved in the North African campaign where he frequently experienced artillery barrages as well as guarded POWs. He participated in the D-Day landings although this portion of the interview is missing and only his last comments about the invasion are available. He was part of the liberation of France and the Battle of the Bulge and shared many stories about his combat experiences in both. He managed to escape serious injury even though he was wounded during D-Day and nearly lost his feet at the Battle of the Bulge. Klosowsky, with the rest of the 90th Division, helped pursue a German Panzer Corps into Czechoslovakia until the Germans surrendered. The 90th then prepared to invade Japan until receiving word that the war ended. Mr. Klosowsky returned to Duluth after his discharge from the service in December 1945. He died in Stillwater, Minnesota, on November 27, 1996.
In an oral interview conducted by David Overy on October 30, 1991, Marcel Froneyberger discussed his experiences in United States Army in World War II and the Korean War. Froneyberger was born April 14, 1919, and was raised in Dupo, Illinois. In this interview, Froneyberger described his participation in rebuilding railroads and infrastructure in North Africa and Europe during World War II. He recounted his time on the frontlines on the Pusan Perimeter during the Battle of Bloody Ridge during the Korean War. In addition, he described how his military service affected his everyday life with family and employment, both good and bad. Froneyberger died December 19, 1996, and was buried in Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in Missouri.
Donald Jurgs was born on September 16, 1924 in Chicago, Illinois. Jurgs was drafted into the Army on March 1, 1942 and served with the 3rd Infantry Division. He was captured by the Germans in 1944 at the Battle of Cisterna in Italy. He was held as a prisoner of war in a various camps throughout Italy and Germany for fifteen months until being liberated. He spent time in large scale prisoner camps as well as working for almost a year in a 50 man work crew in a lumbering camp. Jurgs described aspects of camp life including food, clothing, and survival skills. He also describes the many acts of resistance the prisoners engaged in, the spirit and code among the POWs, interactions with guards and civilians, and the treatment prisoners of different nationalities received. After the war, Jurgs married, attended college to become a teacher, and was a father of three. Jurgs was active in the organization American Ex-Prisoners of War (AXPOW) and worked with the National Prisoner of War museum in Andersonville, Georgia. He died on March 11, 2001, and is buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.
Kenneth Skalberg discussed his induction and training in the Army Air Corps in 1943. He described in detail his training throughout the United States in fighter pilot school. During the interview he gave thorough descriptions of the benefits and failings of the P-39, the P-38, and the P-47, which was the fighter he flew the most. He also described the different types of training received including mock dog fights that would spontaneously occur when Army pilots came across Navy pilots. Skalberg was eventually stationed in the Pacific theater but the war ended before he saw actual combat. He also discussed his continued involvement in the military and his later participation in Vietnam. During the 1950s, he was the personal pilot for Air Force Major General Doubleday and then flew C-133 Cargomasters for the remainder of his career, including 55 missions into Vietnam. Skalberg shared many flight experiences including near-misses, accidents he observed, and delivering military cargo to airfields near the battles. He also discusses the variety of cargo that he flew around the world. Throughout the interview, Skalberg showed appreciation for his military career and the opportunities it provided him. Retiring in 1970, Skalberg settled with his family in Dassel, Minnesota.
Richard Johnson was born on August 9, 1924. He was a B-17 pilot stationed in England and later became a prisoner of war after being shot down in the fall of 1944 on his eighth bombing mission. He was a B-17 pilot stationed in England. Johnson thoroughly detailed his training including through basic training to various levels of flight training. He was sent to three different schools to eventually become a copilot of a B-17 bomber. Stationed in England, Johnson was shot down during a mission in the fall of 1944. Johnson described the mission, how he survived and was captured. He was held at Stalag Luft III until January 1945 when he and the rest of the camp marched westward. They were held in Stalag Luft 7A until April 1945 when American forces liberated their camp. Johnson described the basics of camp life including food and sleeping arrangements as well as the interactions with Germans. He was in France when Germany surrendered and was sent home with other POWs. He died on May 11, 2009 in Dassel, Minnesota.
In an oral history conducted by David Overy on December 28, 1990, Donald C. Grant discussed his experience as an artillery officer in the United States Army's 151st Field Artillery during World War II. Donald C. Grant was born on February 16, 1913, and was raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In 1928, at age 15, Grant lied about his age and joined the National Guard of the United States. In 1937, Grant made second lieutenant in the United States Army and went on active duty during World War II. While stationed in North Africa, Grant received a Silver Star for role in the Battle of Hill 609. Grant discussed his experiences in Italy at the Battle of Monte Cassino and the Battle of Anzio and the harsh realities of being an artilleryman. In 1941, Grant married his wife Norma, and had three children. Lastly, Grant described his thoughts and feelings about military service impacting civilian life. He also served active duty stateside during the Korean War. In 1967, then Governor Harold LeVander chose Major General Grant to head the Army National Guard�s 47th �Viking� Infantry Division from 1963 to 1971. Throughout his military career and after, Grant was employed by the Western Electric Co. He worked his way up from floor sweeper to retiring at warehouse supervisor. Grant died in June 1998.
In an oral history conducted by Daniel Lewis on May 18, 1991, Charles Arnold discussed his experience as a baker and typist in the United States Air Force during World War II. Raised in Preston, Minnesota, he was drafted into the Army in 1941, but enlisted in the Air Force and became a baker. In this interview, Arnold described day to day life living and working in the Matagorda Island Air Force Base in Texas. In 1945, Arnold was transferred to Fresno, California to attend typist school. In addition, he discussed his thoughts and feelings about his time in the Air Force and the several military bases he served on. In 1944, Arnold married his wife, Audrey, and had six children. Lastly, Arnold discussed life after the Air Force, becoming a farmer and raising his children. He died on December 9, 2009.
Born on April 4, 1916 in Plainview, MN, Forrest L. Klockeman was a hydraulic engineer and mechanic during World War 2. He served with the Army Air Corps in Cairo, Egypt and, from there, made several trips into Turkey before returning home. In Africa, he was largely responsible for checking aircraft as they were transferred to the African theater from other locations. In Cairo, he worked at Heliopolis Airport servicing C-46 cargo planes. Settling in Fountain, Minnesota, with his wife, he operated Klockeman Brothers Garage and raised four sons. He died on January 26, 1994.
In an oral interview conducted by David Overy on October 1990, William "Bill" Faber discussed his twenty years of military service in the National Guard, Navy, Air Force, and Army from 1937 to 1962. Faber was born on January 15, 1921, in Anoka, Minnesota, where he was raised. Faber enlisted in the National Guard in January 1937 as a member of the 125th Field Artillery, then joined the Navy in 1940, and later the Air Force as a sergeant first class. He would then transfer to the Army as second lieutenant. Faber"s military career spans multiple wars, he describes his role in the Battle of Midway in June 1942 during World War II and later his time as a member of the Korean Military Advisory Group after the Korean War. Throughout his various military roles Faber detailed daily life, food, foreign civilian interactions, and fond memories of his time in the service. In 1962, Faber retired from the Army as a major. He returned to Anoka and worked from the Telect Company as a quality control director. On January 18, 2008, Faber died in Little Falls, Minnesota.
In this oral history by David H. Overy, Carl F. VanderHaar details his service experiences in the Minnesota National Guard and U.S. Army from 1931 to 1952. VonderHaar was born in Albertville, Minnesota on June 21, 1913, and was raised in Little Falls where he spent his adult life. His service includes early surveying and construction at Camp Ripley, motor repair during World War II, and later quartermaster duties in both World War 2 and Korea. VonderHaar served overseas in Ireland, Africa, France, and the Philippines. In Minnesota, he ran several successful businesses between his terms of military service. VonderHaar also discusses Japanese internment, Vietnam and the Gulf War. The father of four he died on April 27, 2014, at the age of 100 in Little Falls, Minnesota.