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Minnesota National Guard
Pine City National Guard leaves for war March 3, 1941

70th anniversary of departure
By Amy Troolin

Pine City’s National Guard has a long and fascinating history that began when J Adam Bede founded a Naval militia unit in Pine City in 1913 After Great Lakes duty on the USS Gopher in 1913-1916 and honorable service aboard the USS Massachusetts during World War I, the unit was reorganized as an artillery unit, namely Battery E of the 34th Division, Minnesota National Guard

As World War II raged in Europe in the early days of 1940, the United States began to prepare for its eventual entry into the conflict Battery E was among those getting ready to defend their country On Monday, Feb 10, 1941, the unit was mobilized and inducted into federal service as Battery E of the 125th Field Artillery of the United States National Guard The unit’s four officers and ninety-six men spent the next few weeks at the armory, preparing to “ship out” for Camp Claiborne, about 160 miles northwest of New Orleans, for a year of military training

The unit departed for camp in two contingents The first left Pine City by motor convoy on Feb 26 with one commissioned officer and twenty-four men On March 3, the rest of the unit left by train Pine City’s citizens had been planning a glorious send-off for their “boys,” complete with a tribute from the high school marching band Unfortunately, as often happens in Minnesota, the weather did not cooperate The town was struck by the second worst blizzard of the winter, but snow-covered roads and strong winds could not prevent a large crowd of parents, siblings, wives, sweethearts, and friends from gathering at the depot to wish Battery E a safe journey and a profitable and comfortable stay at Camp Claiborne

After arriving at camp on schedule on March 5, 1941, Battery E quickly settled into camp life The unit’s members were satisfied with their accommodations, which consisted of five-man “squad tents” with wooden floors, screens, and gas heaters Intensive basic training began March 10, but the young men of Battery E still have plenty of time for relaxation and fun, according to Private First Class Thomas F Bede, who wrote weekly columns for the Pine City newspaper that told the folks back home all about the unit’s training and quite a bit about off-duty activities, which included kittenball games, outings to area towns and lakes, dates with local girls and, of course, a good deal of the typical shenanigans that always occurs when a group of young men bunk together for any length of time

For most members of Battery E, a year’s training turned out to be four years of war When the United States entered World War II, the unit was shipped to North Africa From there, they made their way up the boot of Italy, into France, and finally across the Rhine into Germany They fought long and hard to win freedom, and when they finally returned home to Pine City, they were honored as heroes, which was, of course, exactly what they were

Battery E

Departing Thursday, Feb 26, 1941:
Dr Stratte; Sgt Henry Foster; Corp Oscar H Teich; Privates 1st Class Leonard F Whiting, Robert Moeding, Robert J Biedermann, Harvey K Brones, Kenneth N Meyers, Walter N Martinson, Robert L Madden, Robert L Swofford, Edward J Roubinek, Kenneth W Cox, Curtis E Broostin, Richard H Cherrier, Major L Greig, Anton V Libra, James L Cummings, Joseph E Blahnik, Jack H Manska, Kenneth E Wilson, John F Zalaznik, William J Rys, Robert K Wilson, and James T France

Departing March 3, 1941:
Capt WS McEachern; 1st Lieut DC Gottry; 2nd Lieuts JP Engel and Everette Johnson; Major CR Boo; 1st Sgt William J Stuck; Sgts John A Erickson, Emil F Gardner, Emil E Kruse, Fred E Kruse, Leo O Moriarity, Herbert C Teich, and Carl N Thore; Corps Howard E Hady, Marion H Hooker, John E Ingram, Robert R Peters, Carl F Teich, Ralph G Teich, and Dayton Thorstenson; Privates 1st Class John A Anderson, Thomas F Bede, Wallace W D’Aoust (bugler), Edward J Erhart, Robert V Ferguson, Clark W Foster, Earl J Foster, Paul B Frye, Donald J Greig, Orville E Harman, Joseph L Kasprzyk, Edward J Kubat, Raymond L Libra, Ray McClellan, John B McKusick, James J Poferl (battery clerk), Edward A Swan, and Cyrus N Swanger; Privates Edward R Bell, Raymond L Brekke, Philip Broz, Waldo W Carlson, Russel R Chase, Warner L Cyr, Herschel W Hahn, Roger T Hegman, George C Hoffman, Orrin H Ingram, Harvey I Jensen, Donald J Karsky, James J Karsky, Clarence C Kruse, Leonard J Kub, Lloyd C Lindeman, Wilbur R McFerran, Robert B McKusick, Wayne A Michael, Sylvan L Millwod, Dale L Moeding, Philip F Nordstrom, Norris E Olander, Robert G Reiser, Arthur B Richter, George W Schumacher, Wilbur Struiksma, Louis E Tauber, John A Wenborg, Clifford J Weiner, Lewis AJ White, Vernice H Whiting

Staff Sergeant Douglas T Stuck left the previous Friday morning with a car and house trailer

Corporal George W Franta was at the Pokegama Sanitorium Hospital with acute tonsillitis and planned to join the Battery later


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