Branch: U. S. Marines
Status: Killed in action
Date of Service: WWII
Home Town: Weme
Elmer C. Holm
Elmer Clarence Holm was born July 21, 1918 in Fosston, 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 married Clara Bjerke on October 30, 1917 in Crookston. Clara 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 in Fosston: 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, when they attended Lone Pine school and Fosston High School.
Elmer registered for the draft on October 16, 1940. He was 22 years old and working for the Civilian Conservation Corps in Middle River, Minnesota. He and his brothers were tall, light-haired boys. Elmer was 6’1” tall, 165 pounds with blue eyes.
Elmer’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. The bombing of Pearl Harbor was the impetus for Elmer to enlist on December 29, 1941 in the U. S. Marine Corps. His brother Henry had already enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1941 before Pearl Harbor, and he had been called to active service on December 15, 8 days after Pearl Harbor. Not to be outdone, brother Arnold joined the Navy in January, 1942, the very next month. 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.” Unfortunately, Elmer’s brother Arnold was declared missing in action in July of 1943 when his ship was bombed off the coast of Italy. His body was never found.
Elmer was first sent to Hawaii and from there to the Ryukyu Islands, Okinawa in particular. The Battle of Okinawa was a major battle of the War in the Pacific. The U.S. Tenth Army, composed of the 7th, 27th, 77th and 96th infantry division and the 1st, 2nd, and 6th divisions of the Marine Corps, began the initial invasion of Okinawa on April 1, 1945. The battle lasted 82 days and was one of the bloodiest in the Pacific with the loss of 52,000 Allied men.
The final American attack was launched June 1 under rain and mud. The 6th Marines landed on Oroku Peninsula on June 4th, capturing Naha airfield. On June 10, the First Marines advanced past Itoman facing murderous defensive fire from defenders on Yuza Peak and Kunishi Ridge, suffering heavy losses until supporting tank, air, naval and ground artillery fire systematically destroyed the last enemy resistance on June 21, 1945.
That month Erick and Clara again received the news every parent of a soldier or sailor dreads. Corporal Elmer Holm was killed in the First Marine’s last push. He died June 10, 1945 and was temporarily buried on the island. They had now lost two sons in this world-wide war.
Elmer’s body was disinterred and sent home to be re-interred with military honors on May 21, 1949 in section C-24 of Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis. He was 26 years old.