Vernon O. Hallan
Branch: U. S. Army
Status: Deceased Veteran
Date of Service: WWII
Home Town: Bagley
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Vernon Orville Hallan was born July 11, 1917 in Nora Township to Oscar and Martine Hallan. He grew up in the Bagley area and attended a rural elementary school, graduating from Bagley High School in 1937.
Vernon wrote this account of his military service:
“I was drafted into the Army in October of 1941. We were paid $21 per month. I had just finished basic training in Camp Callan, California when war broke out on December 7, 1941. I was in Battery B of the 505th Anti-Aircraft Battalion. Our guns were 90 mm, which used a 30 lb. shell and had a range of about 20,000 yards. They fired by impact or a time lapse. For several months we were stationed around airplane plants in California.
I was sent to the University of California in Los Angeles for three months for classes in math because I needed that for gunnery. It paid off — I was sent to Officer Candidate School in North Carolina and passed the course. I was commissioned a Second Lieutenant on March 6, 1943. I was married on March 9, 1943 in Bagley on a three-day pass and sent to Camp Stewart, Georgia. Jean stayed in Savannah, Georgia near the camp. In June of 1943 we left on a troop train for Newport News, Virginia. Jean went back to Bagley. I went aboard a troop ship with 5,000 other men. It took six days to get to Africa.
I wasn’t in on the invasion at Casablanca, but landed there. We were stationed there for a while and then across country to Oran. There were air raids daily on the ports and supply lines, which we were protecting. We were at Oran until the Germans were defeated in Africa. Italy capitulated and things quieted down. The time in Africa wasn’t a picnic. Everything was so dirty and flies so thick we could hardly eat. Dysentery was hitting the troops by the hundreds. We survived both the flies and the bombings.
We loaded on boats for the invasion of Italy that fall. The weather was foul and the ships were packed. I was on a liberty ship which wasn’t the best, but it was seaworthy. Our outfit landed south of Naples at Batapaglia. I was reconnoissance officer so my responsibility was to go ahead and find the proper place to set up our guns. We had much opposition from the Germans and their allies. We were held to a narrow strip of coastline there until a British unit that landed south of us broke out and came north to help us out. The Germans bombed Naples and surrounding ports every morning and every evening. They weren’t as accurate, but kept us busy shooting at them. Their air force was slowly but surely being depleted. Our advance north was slow and was stalled for the winter at the Arno River. It was a cold, wet winter in Italy. It rained all the time so we were in mud all winter, with a lot of difficulty in digging in the guns. We used sand bags from the mountains to make parapets for our guns. We did salvage some lumber to make floors in our tents which helped a lot, but we were wet and cold all winter.
It was during this period that the landing at Anzio was made. We were not in that but it was a tough bloody battle with a terrible loss of men.
Later we were sent to Corsica as our air force was building airstrips there for the push into France. Corsica was bombed heavily at first but the German air force wasn’t too strong. We sustained minimum damage from them. I think we were there about six months and then boarded ship for southern France. We landed at Nice and were between there and _____ until the war ended in Europe. By then the German air force was defeated and we were used to back up artillery.
I was assigned to the military police working out of Dijon, which meant recovering stolen trucks, Army equipment and related things. It was not an easy assignment for me. . . .
From Dijon I left for LeHavre, France where we boarded a ship for home. It was one of the Kaiser victory ships, slow going, about 8 knots. We hit a bad storm and bounced around for three days before it blew itself out. It took us 9 days to get home.
We landed in New York December 5th, 1945 — 2 1/2 years after I left Jean in Newport News, Virginia. I had two promotions while in action and was discharged a captain in the U.S. Army. Jean met me at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin in December of 1945. What a joyful reunion that was! I was discharged on March 6, 1946.”
Vernon died October 10, 2004 and is buried in the Bagley City Cemetery.
Plot: 3 Side: West
Row from Bottom: 3
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