Branch: Army Air Corps

   Rank:  Tech Sergeant

   Status: Killed in action

   Date of Service: WWII

   Home Town: Leon Township

Letter from President Roosevelt

Reuben Herbert Halvorson was born May 25, 1923 in Polk County, Minnesota to Thone Halvorson. Thone was the daughter of Halvor K. and Ragnhild Rude Halvorson who homesteaded near Gully.  Thone grew up near Gully but kept house for her brother Theodore (Ted) most of her adult life. Ted farmed in Johnson Township, Polk County up until 1941, when he bought a farm in Leon Township near Clearbrook.

Reuben lived with his mother and Uncle Ted, who had never married. He attended school through the eighth grade, then went to work helping Uncle Ted on the farm.  Reuben registered for the draft on June 30, 1942 when he was 19. He stated that he was currently living at Rt. 2, Clearbrook and was employed by Ted Halvorson on his farm. He was 5’9” tall and weighed 140 pounds, with hazel eyes and brown hair.

Reuben enlisted in the Army Air Corps at Fort Snelling, Minnesota on November 13, 1942.  His enlistment term was for the duration of the War plus six months, subject to the discretion of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Reuben became a member of the 457th Bombardment Group, part of the 749th Bombardment Squadron. Its nickname was “The Fireball Outfit” and its motto was “Fait Accompli.” The 457th was activated on July 1, 1943 and sent to Rapid City, South Dakota from Ephrata Army Air Field in Washington State. The group prepared for phase training at Rapid City, then was transferred back to Ephrata for the firsts two phases. The final phase was at Wendover, Utah beginning in December of 1943. The aircraft of the 457th Bomb Group left Grand Island, Nebraska after final inspection on January 17, 1944, flying individually to the British Isles to U. S. Army Air Force Station 130, Glatton near the end of January. The Glatton airfield completely surrounded and included the village of Conington near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, England.  February, 1944 was spent in training for combat, with the air crews in ground school training and practice missions.

Reuben trained to be a ball turret gunner as well as a radio operator.  A ball turret is a rotation ball with mounted machine guns located underneath the aircraft. The gunner sits inside the ball.  Their 10-man crew flew a B-17 Flying Fortress, a four-engine heavy bomber manufactured by Boeing.

On February 21, 1944, 36 aircraft were dispatched to hit Lippstadt, a town in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany and came under fighter attack. The group sustained its first aircraft/crew loss and first two fatalities. From then on, the 457th was in the thick of it. American bombers were carrying out concentrated raids against German aircraft bases, factories and assembly plants. During the last week of February three aircraft were lost to the enemy and three more were badly damaged.

The first week of March saw the largest effort against Berlin yet. The 8th Air Force, of which the 749th Squadron was a part, lost 69 aircraft – two of those belonging to Reuben’s unit, the 457th. The rest of March was spent flying strategic missions deep into Germany.

On April 9th, the Focke-Wulf 190 fighter plane assembly factory complex in Gdynia, Poland was attacked at great expense to the 457th, but with excellent results. Tech Sergeant Reuben Halvorson never knew the results, because his bomber was shot down by a Focke-Wulf 190 and crashed at Hohnert-Steinfeld, five miles northeast of Schleswig, Germany. Its crew of 10 was declared missing in action.

Reuben’s body was eventually recovered and was returned from overseas to his mother Thone and Uncle Ted. He had come full circle from his enlistment at Fort Snelling. He was buried with military honors in Section C-22 of Fort Snelling National Cemetery on April 9, 1949.  He was 20 years old.