Emil Carl Ogroske
Branch: U. S. Army
Date of Service: Mar 1942 – Oct 1945
Home Town: Perham, MN
The USS COOLIDGE
Emil Carl Ogroske was born on October 22, 1919 to parents Ernest Ogroske and Amelia (Huwe) Ogroske.
Emil grew up in Corliss Township, Ottertail County, northeast of Perham. Emil attended a small rural school near his farm.
Emil entered the US Army in March 1942 and was sent to Camp Roberts, California for Basic Training. Camp Roberts is approximately 190 miles south of San Francisco, and just 15 miles north of Paso Robles, CA.
After completion of his Basic Training, Emil was assigned to the 172nd Infantry Regiment, 43rd Infantry Division. In August 1942, the 172nd Infantry Regiment boarded the USS President Coolidge and the ship left its homeport of San Francisco for New Caledonia and the New Hebrides. The USS Coolidge was scheduled to stop at a large military base and harbor that had been established on Espiritu Santo (present day Vanuatu, 1100 miles east of Australia).
The harbor at Espiritu Santo was heavily protected by mines. Information about safe entry into the harbor had been accidentally omitted from President Coolidge’s sailing orders, and on her approach to Espiritu Santo on 26 October, the President Coolidge, fearing Japanese submarines and unaware of the mine fields, tried to enter the harbor through the largest and most obvious channel. A mine struck the ship in the engine room, and moments later a second mine hit her near her stern.
Captain Henry Nelson, knowing that he was going to lose the ship, ran her aground and ordered troops to abandon ship. Not believing the ship would sink, troops were told to leave all of their belongings behind under the impression that they would conduct salvage operations over the next few days.
Over the next 90 minutes, 5,340 men from the ship got safely ashore. However, the Coolidge slid down a steep slope and all regimental belongings were lost.
The 172nd Infantry Regiment remained at Espiritu Santo until they were re-outfitted.
The Regiment participated in combat at Guadalcanal, New Guinea, Russell Islands, Solomon Islands and Luzon, Philippines Island.
Emil Ogroske was wounded twice and received two Purple Hearts. He was discharged from active duty as a Sergeant on October 2, 1945.
Emil married Dorothy Mary Tobkin on September 29, 1947. They had four children, James, John, Leon and Audrey. Emil was a dairy farmer north of Perham, MN.
Emil Carl Ogroske died on March 16, 2006 and is buried in St. Henry’s Cemetery, Perham, MN.