ORVILLE MARTIN HALLAN
Branch: U. S. Army
Status: Killed in action
Date of Service: WWII
Home Town: Bagley
Orville Hallan’s headstone in Bagley City Cemetery
Orville Martin Hallan was born October 27, 1911 in Tracy, Minnesota to parents Oscar Adolf and Martine Bjorn Halland. Martine, who grew up in the Chicago area, had been a teacher in southern Minnesota when she met Oscar. They were married June 5, 1907 in Storden, Minnesota and it was there that their children Arnold, Orville, and Hazel were born. The family moved to Nora Township in Clearwater County, Minnesota in 1913 and there they added children Fern, Vernon, Archie, Kenneth, Mervin and George. Oscar was a cream tester at the creamery in Bagley, so the family had moved to town to a permanent home in the city of Bagley by 1930.
Orville enlisted in the Army in 1932. The family had a strong military tradition and were mechanically inclined. By 1940, Archie was a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army, Mervin was in Army basic training and Kenneth was an Aviation Mechanic 2nd class in the Navy. Vernon became a Captain in the U.S. Army in WWII as well.
Orville was sent to Schofield Barracks in Hawaii in 1932 to participate in joint maneuvers off Hawaii with the U.S. Navy. Twenty-one-year-old Private Hallan and his unit were loaded aboard the USAT St. Mihiel at Fort McDowell, California on April 5, 1932, bound for Honolulu.
Orville became a member of the 6th Infantry Division, 63rd Infantry Regiment when the 6th was activated in 1939 with the threat of war looming. He was once again sent to Hawaii in July and August of 1943 to assume defensive positions on Oahu, meanwhile training in jungle warfare. They stayed three months in Hawaii where each man went through a vigorous course in jungle tactics at the jungle training school which the Regiment constructed. Then it was on to the real war in New Guinea.
The Regiment embarked at Honolulu harbor on January 18, 1944 aboard the SS Monterey. Two destroyer escorts joined the ship and conducted her through the Coral Sea to a safe anchorage in Milne Bay. Here the Regiment underwent even more training until early June. It was June 8th when the Regiment moved to the combat zone at Maffin Bay, Dutch New Guinea near Wakde Island. Here they saw their first combat in the Toem-Wakde area, engaging in active patrolling.
As part of the 6th Division, the 63rd moved west of Toem and fought the bloody Battle of Lone Tree Hill for nine days at the end of June. The Regiment assisted in the defeat of the crack 36th Japanese Infantry Division and its men were awarded the Combat Infantry Badge. By July, it had secured the Maffin Bay area and earned a month’s rest at Sansapor on the Vogelkop Peninsula. Here they secured the coast from Cape Waimak to the Mega River and garrisoned the area until December, 1944.
Most of the 6th Division landed at Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, in the Philippines on D-day, January 9th, 1945. The 63rd landed the following day, and in the initial struggle to enlarge the army beachhead, the regiment came up against enemy artillery and fought one of the bloodies actions of the Pacific War.
It was here that Private Orville Hallan lost his life in combat on February 4, 1945. His body was sent home to his grieving family who buried him in the Bagley City Cemetery. He was 33 years old.