Alf Reidar Nackerud
Alf Reidar Nackerud was born in Oslo, Norway (Christinsia)
on November 12, 1900 and immigrated with his parents to Walnut Grove,
where he was raised as any other immigrant kid of the day.
World War I Service
In 1916 Alf joined the Minnesota National Guard and
was stationed on the Mexican border. There is no record of
this in his service record except for the fact that Private Reidar A.
Nackerud of the First Minnesota Infantry was honorably discharged from
the First Minnesota National Guard (see below). This unit was
called up for duty and assigned to the U.S. Army 135th Infantry MG Company;
stationed at Camp Cody, New Mexico. He served with the unit
from May 24, 1917 until May 14, 1918.
photo on the left was in the form of a postcard and it reads, "I am
sending you a picture of myself and a couple of my friends. Write Soon."
It was signed "R.N." His signature of "R.N." indicates that Alf
may have started to used his middle name of "Reidar" as his first name.
During this period of service the border army was under
command of Black Jack Pershing who was chasing Mexican Revolutionaries.
In any case the First Minnesota was raised for civil war and had an
important unit history from Gettysburg and eventually the history was
absorbed into the 47th Viking Division.
On May 4, 1918 Alf was honorably discharged by reason
of fraudulent enlistment (character noted as excellent). Apparently
the army discovered that he was only 16-17 years old at time of enlistment.
He was 17 1/2 at the time of his discharge.
Now of Age, Alf is Back in the Army
In 1919 Alf attended Mankato Commercial College but
we could well imagine this was too boring for the young Viking.
On May 15, 1920 (or 1921) Alf reenlisted at Fort Myer,
Virginia in the 33rd Cavalry (L) Troop. The 3rd
was under command of Colonel Patton at that time. We could well
reason that a young infantry machine gunner hauling a heavy machine
gun around the New Mexico desert would have been impressed by the mounted
Buffalo Soldiers under Pershing as having a better arrangement. In any
case, Alf’s love affair with the cavalry was terminated July 18, 1921
by the reduction in size of the Army. The notations being “Service
Honest and Faithful”. During this time period he used the name
Reidar A. Nackerud. In November 1, 1920 while stationed at Fort Myers;
he received his naturalization papers.
From May 16, 1923 to May 14, 1924 Alf was a Corporal with Company B, 206th Infantry, Minnesota
National Guard. During the years when he was not in the
military, Alf was employed by the St. Paul Pioneer Press and
Dispatch and with the National Broadcasting Company in Chicago.
Alf Begins a Love Affair with Airplanes
Along the way he worked at other jobs and Alf fell
in love with the airplane. Maybe he thought flying appeared to be a
better deal than "saddle sores" and "horse manure". In 1933 Alf
started learning to fly. A note on the back of the photo on the
left reads, "The airplane is one I fly now & then when I have a few
spare nickels". The photo was titled "Alf & 1st Love".
1938: Enlists in Army Air Corp
On September 8, 1938 reenlistment was in order and
he was assigned to
to the 34th Attack Squadron. Alf was now a member of the
US Army Air Corp. Congress changed the name of the Air Service
to the Army Air Corp in 1926 and it separated from the US Army in 1947
to become a separate branch of the military (i.e., US Air Force).
He was detached August 3, 1939 to Air Corp Technical
School at Glendale, California for training at Curtis-Wright Technical
Institute. On February 8, 1940, Alf was sent to March-McChord field
as a Staff Sergeant to the
34th Bomb Squadron - he was a Crew Chief and Aero Engineer on B18A
and B23 aircraft.
In January 16, 1941 he was assigned to the
86th Bomb Squadron at McChord-Fresno-Hammer Field, 86th
Bomb Squadron as First Sergeant and Tech Sergeant Flight Chief.
He served with the 86th through January 23, 1942. He now held
a private pilot license. The US was in WWII and on February 17, 1942
Alf was promoted to Master Sergeant. He arrived in England September
11, 1942 and was sent to Tunisia, North Africa, on December 2, 1942.
Discharged in 1944
After service in that bombing campaign, he returned
from Africa October 9, 1943. He was
honorably discharged August 31, 1944. In October, 1944, he
went to Los Angeles, California. He entered Sawtelle Veterans'
Hospital in December where after an illness of several weeks, he
died on January 29, 1945 at the age of 44 years. Alf is
buried in the St. Olaf Cemetery where his parents are also buried.
If there is a “Greatest Generation” Uncle Alf should
be in that list. There is not one negative fault mentioned in his service
records. He exhibited character, tenacity and duty; never seeming to
be discouraged. Not bad for an immigrant farm boy. Decorations were
American Defense Service Ribbons, Good Conduct Ribbon, American Theater
of Operations Ribbon, and European-African-Middle Eastern Theater of Operations
This story about Alf was written by Charles Averill
from records that were in the possession of Mariann Nackerud-Averill.
Thank you for your diligent work Chuck.
Enlisted Record of Alf Nackerud
You can view Alf's Enlisted Record by clicking
document). The document was recorded
with the Cottonwood County Register of Deeds (Windom, Minnesota) in