Clifford Bernard Sherping was born February 15, 1921 on a farm in Rice Township, Clearwater County, Minnesota to parents Olaf B. and Hannah Marie Berg Sherping. Olaf and Hannah had both emigrated from Norway around 1910. Hannah’s family had settled in Milnor, North Dakota and Olaf began working for a farmer in Milnor. The two were married on July 17, 1919 and settled on a farm in Rice Township near the tiny settlement of Zerkel. Clifford was the first son among eight children: Ilene, Clifford, Wallard, Alice, Helen, Wilma, Jenny and Kenneth. He attended country school through the 7th grade, then went to work on the farm. When the CCC began employing local residents, Clifford and his brother Wallard went to work; Clifford clearing forestry roadsides and Wallard as a fire guard. Olaf did some carpentry work on farm homes in the area.
Clifford registered for the draft on February 16, 1942 at age 21. He noted he was 5’8” tall and 145 pounds, with hazel eyes and brown hair.
It is not known what date Clifford was drafted, but it is known that by September 7, 1944 he was finished with basic and advanced training and had landed in France with the 415th Infantry Regiment, part of the 104th Infantry Division. Clifford rose quickly through the ranks and by the time he reached Europe he was already a sergeant.
By the 25th of October the Division had gone on the offensive on the Western Front. Known as the “Timberwolf Division,” it was responsible for a sector featuring a main highway leading from Antwerp to Breda, a Dutch village six miles southwest of a German strongpoint in the village of Zundert, Holland. By the end of the day on October 27, Zundert had been taken and the Division was no longer green at combat. According to “United States Army in WWII – Europe- the Siegfried Line Campaign,” (Charles B. MacDonald, Pickle Partners, p. 114) “No longer did men of the 104th wonder at the swish of a shell whether it was coming in or going out. They knew what it meant to kill men and to have their own killed. If a machine gun went “br-r-r-r-p,” it was German; if it went “put-put-put,” it was one of their own.”
Leur and Etten, municipalities in the southern Netherlands, fell as the Division advanced in a coordinated drive to the Mark River at the Dutch village of Standdarbuiten on November 2 and established a bridgehead. By November 5, Zevenbergen had been captured and the Division had reached the Maas River. Here, the Division recovered its wounded, buried their dead and moved on into Germany.
On November 16 the 104th Division began the attack – known as “Operation Queen” – on the Siegfried Line at Hamich. They commenced a two-pronged attack with the 1st Infantry Division on the right and the 104th on the left. Operation Queen featured one of the heaviest Allied tactical bombings of the war, but resistance by the 116th Panzer Division was heavy. After four days of fighting, Hamich was taken but the 1st Division had only advanced about 2 miles while suffering over 1,000 casualties.
One of those casualties was Sergeant Clifford Sherping. He was killed in action on November 17, the second day of Operation Queen. Clifford’s body was buried temporarily and returned to the United States three years later. His family buried him on December 3, 1947 in Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis. He was 23 years old.