PFC Warren Gordon Nelson

PFC Warren Gordon Nelson

Birth
Lakota, Nelson County, North Dakota, USA
Death 20 Nov 1943 (aged 20)
Tarawa, Gilbert Islands, Kiribati
Burial Lakota, Nelson County, North Dakota, USA
Memorial ID 47288463 · View Source
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Warren Gordon Nelson, son of Oscar William and Lillie Hattie (Hatula) Nelson, was born April 14, 1923 on the family farm in Rubin Township of Nelson County, near Lakota, North Dakota.

He was baptized in the Lakota Lutheran Church on May 6, 1923.  His sister, Marie Jane, was born eleven months later.  Warren and Marie were very close and used to get into all sorts of mischief together as toddlers.  One day Warren poured a whole box of cornstarch on Marie, and then proudly told his mother, "baby nice!"  Warren and Marie attended the first few years of primary school in a country schoolhouse.  On snowy winter mornings, Warren, Marie and the other children from neighboring farms rode to school in a horse drawn sleigh.  Each child would bring a potato to school, that they gave to the teacher, who placed it in the wood-burning stove in the schoolroom.  By lunch time the children had a nice hot potato to eat.

By the early 1930's the Nelson family had moved into Lakota, where Warren and Marie then attended the Lakota Public School.  Warren was very kind to his little sister, and Marie loved her older brother dearly.  Warren's cousin, Jane, recalls that Warren used to take Jane and his other younger cousins to get ice-cream cones on hot summer days.  Warren learned to play the trumpet, and later became a member of the Lakota High School Band.  Marie played the drums in the band.  Warren graduated from Lakota High School in 1941.

Warren had college aspirations, but since World War II was raging, he decided to serve his country in the war effort by enlisting in the Marine Corps on December 13, 1942.  Because of his ability to play the trumpet, he was assigned to be a Field Musician.  After completing training in San Diego, CA, Warren was assigned to Echo Company, Second Battalion, Eighth Marines.

Echo Company participated in the U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet's Central Pacific Campaign which targeted the Gilbert Islands.  The Gilberts offered the Pacific Fleet a platform from which to launch assaults on the Marshall and Caroline Islands to advance the U.S. Navy's Central Pacific Campaign against Japan.  Betio Island, located within the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilberts, was considered essential to the campaign because of an airfield.  Primary responsibility for the assault, code named Operation Galvanic, fell to the Second Marine Division.  The plan was to capture the airfield while defeating the Japanese defenders.  The assault force was to land in three different areas on the north of the island, designated Beaches Red 1, 2 and 3.  Warren's Echo Company, Second Battalion, Eighth Marines was to invade at Beach Red 3, to the east.  The Marines of 2/8 were able to get ashore and secure a portion of the airfield.  Though they suffered heavy losses, they secured the beach and held their position on the airfield.

Warren died on this first day of battle, November 20, 1943.  He was twenty years old.  Though Warren was buried on Betio Island, his remains and the remains of over 500 Marines were lost on the island.  Warren's remains were finally recovered and identified in 2016.


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  • Created by: ginnyt
  • Added: 29 Jan 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 47288463
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for PFC Warren Gordon Nelson (14 Apr 1923–20 Nov 1943), Find A Grave Memorial no. 47288463, citing Lakota Cemetery, Lakota, Nelson County, North Dakota, USA ; Maintained by ginnyt (contributor 46777087) .