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108 Years in the USA
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David Nackerud
2883 SW Champlain Drive
Portland, OR 97205

 

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.

Alf with friends.  This photo most likely taken in 1918 while serving in New Mexico. Alf is seated on the right - the one with the boots.  This photo was in the form of a postcard and a note reads, "I am sending you a picture of myself and a couple of my friends.  Write Soon." It was signed "R.N."This 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 with his flying machine.  A note on the back of the photo states, "The airplane is one I fly now & then when I have a few spare nickels".  The photo was titled "Alf & 1st Love".

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 March Field 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 wasAl with a flying partner.  Note the clothing. 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 Ribbons.

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 here (PDF document).  The document was recorded with the Cottonwood County Register of Deeds (Windom, Minnesota) in 1950.

Footnote by Jon Nackerud:  Franz and Alf were roommates at a boarding home in Chicago in the 20s.  And just down the street a block or so, lived Priscilla Sara Hanify, who was later to be known to all of us as Aunt Pat.

Al and Alice Steen taken in the 40s when
Al was home on leave.  This romance
must have spanned over 25 years.

Al with his Ford - it looks like it was taken
 in California.  If you "Nackeruds" with
long legs ever wonder where you inherited
them, here is your answer.

Al with a buddy and natives in Tunisia.

Al with his crew.  Two captains and
two lieutenants in the back row and
the sergeants kneeing.  Al is on the far
right now wearing his Master Sergeant strips.

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