Branch: U. S. Navy
Rank: Machinist Mate 3rd
Status: Killed in Action
Date of Service: WWII
Home Town: Weme
Arnold Irving Holm
Arnold Irving Holm was born July 1, 1921 in Clearwater County, Minnesota to Erick Edward and Clara Josephine Bjerke Holm. Erick was born in Lulea, Sweden and immigrated to the U.S. in 1912 when he was 19 years old. He was 24 when he married Clara Bjerke, who had grown up in Hill River Township, Polk County. Erick and Clara farmed in Roosevelt Township near Leonard for three years, then moved to Rosebud Township in Polk County in 1923 and remained there for nine years. Four sons and a daughter were born to them: Elmer (1918), Arnold (1921), Henry (1923), Parnell (1925) and Eleanor (1927). The children attended Pine Hill school in Fosston until the family moved to the Weme area (Eddy Township) in 1941, where they attended Lone Pine school and Fosston High School.
Arnold’s father Erick had served in the Army in WWI, just six years after arriving in his new country, inspiring a proud military tradition in his family. The Holm boys all answered the call to arms for their country. Henry had enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1941 before Pearl Harbor, and was called to active service on December 15, 8 days after Pearl Harbor. The bombing of Pearl Harbor was the impetus for brother Elmer to enlist in the U. S. Marine Corps on December 29, 1941. Not to be outdone, Arnold joined the Navy in January, 1942, a few days later. The youngest brother, Parnell, who was only 17, enlisted in the Coast Guard and was called to active duty in February of 1943. The Fosston newspaper ran an article about the Holm brothers on June 11, 1943 titled “Four Seagoing Brothers Fight for Uncle Sam.”
After training Arnold was assigned to the U.S.S. Maddox, a Gleaves class destroyer named after a Marine hero of the Battle of Santa Clara in 1847. The Maddox had been launched in September of 1942 and was given escort duties safeguarding fleet oilers between Norfolk, VA and Galveston. Then the Maddox began a series of transatlantic voyages escorting convoys from New York and Norfolk to North Africa. On June 8, 1943, the Maddox departed Norfolk for Oran, Algeria, where she became part of the assault force for the Sicilian invasion.
It was before dawn on July 10, 1943, when tragedy struck. The Maddox was on antisubmarine patrol about 16 miles off the coast of Sicily when a German JU-88 Luftwaffe bomber dropped four 250-lb. bombs on the Maddox, with one striking the after magazine and another the rear No. 5 gun turret. When the magazine exploded it demolished the Maddox’s stern, and the ship rolled over and sank in two minutes. Although 74 men survived, 211 men went down with the ship, including the captain. The Maddox has the unfortunate distinction of having been the fastest sinking U.S. warship to be lost in WWII.
Among the lost that day was F1c Arnold Irving Holm. He was declared missing in action and his body was never recovered. After a year and a day, the Navy declared Arnold dead. His death is commemorated on a memorial in the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery, and his family erected a headstone for him in Bethlehem Lutheran Cemetery, Fosston. He was posthumously awarded the rank of Machinist’s Mate 3rd class and awarded a Purple Heart. He was 23 years old.