Vern Haugland

Litchfield, Meeker County, Minnesota, USA
Death 15 Sep 1984 (aged 76)
Reno, Washoe County, Nevada, USA
Burial Cremated, Ashes scattered at sea, Specifically: Cremains scattered over the Pacific Ocean by an Eagle Squadron pilot
Memorial ID 137535255 · View Source
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Vern Haugland was the son of Olaus and Hannah Haugland, the eighth of eleven children. When Vern was about five years old, the family moved to a ranch in Meagher County, Montana. He attended Gallatin High School and the University of Washington then graduated from the University of Montana in 1931 with a B. A. in journalism. He worked for the Missoula Sentinel, the Daily Missoulian and the Montana Standard, before joining the Associated Press in 1936. In 1942, he travelled to Australia to cover the war from the front. On August 7, 1942, Haugland was a passenger on a B-26 Marauder (S/N 40-1521) that took off from Townville, Queensland, for Port Moresby, New Guinea. In route, the plane's compass failed as did a transfer pump. With fuel onboard but with no way to move to from the reserve tank to the main tank, the plane ran dry. Pilot 1st Lt Duncan Seffern ordered all aboard to bail out. Once on the ground, Haugland was able to find Co-Pilot, 1st Lt James Michael on August 8. The two stayed together until August 16 when they split up in search of food. When writing in his diary of the flyer, Haugland said "Maybe Mike can go faster alone. I hope so. He's a wonderful boy and deserves to live." Unfortunately, Lt Michael was ever seen again. Eventually, Haugland made it to a native village and residents helped get him back to Port Moresby on September 23, 1942. On October 1, General Douglas MacArthur presented the still-recovering Haugland the Silver Star, making him the first civilian recipient of the award. He wrote about his experiences in 'Jungle Letters' in Cosmopolitan Magazine and later a book, Letter From New Guinea. Continuing his war coverage, he was among the first journalists to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki following the bombings that ended that war. He went on to serve as AP's aviation and space editor in Washington and later as their chief aviation correspondent. At the time of his death, he was writing a trilogy about the Eagle Squadrons, a group of American Pilots who flew with the British Royal Air Force prior to the Pearl Harbor Attack in 1941. He was in Reno attending the Eagle Squadrons Association meeting when he died unexpectedly. Two of the three books were completed at the time. His widow completed the third of the series. Haugland's papers are available at the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, Archives and Special Collections, The University of Montana.

In addition to the loss of Lt Michael, 1st Lt Carroll Casteel, the navigator, was never recovered although there were rumors that he had been seen alive after reaching the ground. All other crewmen, pilot 1st Lt Duncan Seffern, bombardier S/Sgt Paul Ramsey, engineer S/Sgt George Hickman, radio operator S/Sgt Kenneth Gundling and gunner S/Sgt Thomas Riley, all returned to Port Moresby with the assistance of natives.

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  • Created by: Gone Gravin ★
  • Added: 20 Oct 2014
  • Find A Grave Memorial 137535255
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Vern Haugland (7 May 1908–15 Sep 1984), Find A Grave Memorial no. 137535255, ; Maintained by Gone Gravin ★ (contributor 47532541) Cremated, Ashes scattered at sea, who reports a Cremains scattered over the Pacific Ocean by an Eagle Squadron pilot.