HAROLD LINCOLN BERG
Branch: U. S. Army
Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
Status: Missing in action
Date of Service: WWII
Home Town: Copley Township
Detachment 101 Insignia
Harold Lincoln Berg was born June 1, 1914 in Winnipeg, Canada. It is unknown who his biological parents were, but the 1930 census found 15-year-old Harold living in Copley Township, Clearwater County, with his adoptive parents Ludvick (Ludvig) and Anna Berg. The Bergs were quite elderly at the time with Ludvick being 81 and Anna age 74. The owner of the farm on which they all lived was Anon Bertinius Berg, age 49. The census states that Anon is the brother of Harold. Ludvick, Anna and Anon all immigrated to the U.S. from Norway in 1906 coming into the U.S. via Winnipeg, Canada and landing in Superior, Wisconsin where Ludvick had a cousin.
The family lived in Duluth for a time before Ludvick bought a farm in Copley Township. He and Anna resided there until their deaths in 1934 and 1939 respectively. They are buried in Emmanuel Cemetery.
When he reached adulthood, Harold completed two years of college, then found a job in International Falls, Koochiching County, Minnesota where he was the circulation manager for a newspaper. He roomed with Mary and Lucille Kroll in the city for several years. He was age 26 when he registered for the draft on October 16, 1940. He listed his employer as Don Chase, Border Publishing in International Falls. Draft registrations required the writer to list someone who would always know their address. Harold listed Spencer Larson of Bagley. His brother Anon went to work in California to help the war effort.
It is unknown what date Harold enlisted in the Army. He received an officer commission and became a distinctive member of the OSS. The Office of Strategic Services was a wartime intelligence agency of the United States during World War II, and a predecessor of the modern Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Harold was a member of Detachment 101 of the OSS, which operated behind enemy lines in Burma.
Wikipedia’s history of the OSS Detachment 101 states, “ The first unit of its kind, the Detachment was charged with gathering intelligence, harassing the Japanese through guerrilla actions, identifying targets for the Army Air Force to bomb, and rescuing downed Allied airmen. Because Detachment 101 was never larger than a few hundred Americans, it relied on support from various tribal groups in Burma. In particular, the vigorously anti-Japanese Kachin people were vital to the unit’s success. By the time of its deactivation on July 12, 1945, Detachment 101 had scored impressive results. According to official statistics, with a loss of some 22 Americans, Detachment 101 killed 5,428 Japanese and rescued 574 Allied personnel.” 101’s efforts opened the way for Stilwell’s Chinese forces, Wingate’s Raiders, Merrill’s Marauders, and the great counter-attack against the Japanese Imperial life-line.” (Wikipedia, OSS Detachment 101, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OSS_ Detachment_101)
While in Burma, something happened to Harold. He was declared Missing in Action on December 18, 1944. His rank at the time was Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army. He was 30 years old. Detachment 101 was awarded a Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation by Dwight Eisenhower, who wrote: “The courage and fighting spirit displayed by its officers and men in offensive action against overwhelming enemy strength reflect the highest tradition of the armed forces of the United States.”
Harold Berg is commemorated on the Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippines. He was posthumously awarded a purple heart.