ROY ERVIN MORVIG
Branch: U. S. Army
Status: Killed in action
Date of Service: WWII
Home Town: Shevlin
Roy Morvig’s headstone in Fort Snelling
Roy Ervin Morvig was born January 21, 1923 in Fertile, Minnesota to parents Olaf and Ella Myrtle Johnson Morvig. Olaf’s parents, Andrew and Ingerid Morvig were both born in Norway and immigrated with their families to Minnesota. Andrew’s family settled in Garfield Township of Polk County which encompasses the town of Fertile. Andrew did well farming and eventually acquired over 300 acres in that township to help support his 11 children. Second son Olaf acquired his own small 40-acre farm there as well and on July 28, 1915 married Ella Myrtle Johnson in Little Norway Lutheran in Fertile. Olaf and Ella raised five children: Abner, Ovidia, Roy, Helmer and Marvin.
Roy was active in 4-H club work and was the winner of a Sears, Roebuck and Company Scholarship to the Northwest School of Agriculture in Crookston, which he attended in 1941 and 1942. Some time in 1941 Olaf, Ella and family moved to Shevlin in Clearwater County, Minnesota. Roy registered for the draft on June 30, 1942 in Bagley, Minnesota, giving his address as Shevlin. He was 5’7” tall and 135 pounds with blue eyes and brown hair. When school got out he began helping his dad out on his farm near Shevlin.
Roy met and fell in love with a Red River Valley girl named Alice Marie Ruther, the daughter of Henry and Anna Ruther, grain farmers in Reis Township near Beltrami. Alice and Roy were married on June 23, 1944 in Crookston United Lutheran.
Roy’s brother Abner was serving in the Army in New Guinea and Australia during WWII. Less than six months after marrying, Roy too enlisted in the Army at Fort Snelling, Minnesota. After basic training he was sent to shore up the 357th Infantry Regiment, 90th Infantry Division, which had been decimated in France. The 90th had landed on Utah Beach, Normandy in June, 1944, then raced across France taking Pont l’Abbe, and clearing the Foret de Mont-Castre (Hill 22). The 90th had suffered 5000 men killed, wounded or captured, one of the highest casualty rates suffered in WWII.
The 90th pushed across the Saar River and smashed through Siegfried Line fortifications. It took Mainz on March 22, then crossed the Rhine, the Main and the Werra in rapid succession, pursuing the Germans to the Czech border and into the Sudetes mountain range. Roy was with the Division en route to Prague when they came upon the remaining 1500 emaciated prisoners left behind by the SS at Flossenburg concentration camp.
The first enemy action encountered by the 357th in Czechoslovakia was at Tremlovsky where a group of SS troops equipped with Panzerfaust (anti-tank weapons) launched a surprise counterattack. This attack was swept aside with heavy losses to the enemy and resulted in the capture of 70 Germans and Hungarians. Over 600 prisoners were taken by the 357th on this day, the 3rd of May.
On the 5th of May, the 357th was to attack the town of Zhuri, clearing a path through the mountains for the 4th Armored Division. These Germans in Czechoslovakia were now the last pocket of enemy resistance left in existence. Although the end was near, the 357th was to engage the enemy in one of the fiercest fights of its long period of combat. After a thorough artillery and mortar pasting, the town was taken by assault and the defending Germans liquidated. Private Roy Morvig was not among the celebrants two days later on May 7th when a cease-fire was ordered, nor did he ever find out that May 8th was declared Victory in Europe Day. Roy Ervin Morvig had been cut down by sniper fire on May 5th.
Roy’s body was temporarily buried in St. Avold-Metz, France, and a memorial service was held for him in Shevlin on August 12, 1945. He was later disinterred and buried in Section C, Block 22 of Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis. He was 22 years old.