Clarence Palmer Haukland was born July 4, 1918 in Clearwater County, Minnesota to Peter Pederson and Clara Viger Haukland. Peter had emigrated from Norway to America in 1892 when he was 22 years old and Clara was born in Wisconsin to Norwegian immigrant parents. The pair met in Grant County, Minnesota where Clara grew up and where Peter was a farm hand. They married in 1895 and moved to Clearwater County to homestead their own farm in 1901. They settled on 160 acres in the southwest corner of section 11 in Nora Township, a farm which still remains in the Haukland family today.
The Hauklands raised eight children to adulthood: Olga, Alma, Arthur, Cora, Willie, Carl, Otto and Clarence. Emma and Cora both became country school teachers. The boys helped out on the farm once they graduated from eighth grade in the Nora Township school.
Clarence registered for the draft on October 16, 1940 in Moorhead. He was 22 years old. He was 5’6” tall, 145 pounds, with blue eyes and blond hair. Clarence enlisted in the Army on April 14, 1941. He was assigned to Battery A of the 125th Field Artillery. His brothers Willie and Carl were also in the Army.
Immediately following Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941), the men of the 125th had been mobilized across the southern coast of the U.S. to defend against a possible mainland invasion. After several weeks they returned to camp and in January, 1942, they were sent to Fort Dix, New Jersey in preparation for heading overseas. They boarded ships for Northern Ireland and arrived in May of 1942. There, the 125th spent seven months preparing for a joint U.S./U.K. amphibious assault on French North Africa. Then they headed to England where they boarded boats in Liverpool bound for North Africa, where they participated in the first major operation in North Africa, Operation Torch.
The 125th landed in Algeria and began pushing toward Tunisia across the desert. Landmines were common as well as enemy ground fire. By early May of 1943, the German and Italian troops in North Africa surrendered.
By this time Clarence was a TEC 5, an Army technician rank used during WWII. He was still addressed as Corporal, but he possessed specialized skills that were rewarded with a higher pay grade.
The 125th spent the summer of 1943 training at the Port of Oran, Africa for the Italian campaign. They were equipped with the newest American artillery guns — 105 Howitzers – which needed seven men to operate. Howitzers had a range of 7.26 miles and a barrage could level a small town.
The 125th landed on the beaches of Salerno in the fall of 1943. They pushed north through Italy for the next two years. German soldiers referred to them as “Red Bulls” because they wore a red steer skull division patch. The name stuck.
On February 7, 1944, the men of Battery A were being served food at the kitchen truck when an American plane flying overhead accidentally dropped a bomb on the truck, killing 25 men. More than half of all casualties of the 125th occurred on this day. Among the dead was TEC 5 Clarence Haukland of Bagley.
Clarence’s body was sent home to be buried in the family plot in the Nora Township Cemetery under a flat marble marker. He was 25 years old.