William Landgren Oral History
William Landgren was born 15 November 1916 in Fort Dodge, Iowa. After graduating from Iowa State in 1938, he began working for the Pioneer Hi-Bred Corn Company. Still working for the Pioneer Hi-Bred Corn Company, Landgren was drafted in February 1942. As a second lieutenant, and later captain in the 179th Infantry (45th Division), Landgren saw action in Italy, France, and Germany. After the war, he married Helen Jeanne (Swanson) Landgren. He died February 22, 1998 and is buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Willmar, Minnesota.
After graduating from Iowa State in 1938, Landgren was drafted while working in Des Moines, Iowa. After officers training at Fort Benning, Georgia, he became a second lieutenant in the 179th Infantry (45th Division). Landgren captured a prisoner with his platoon in the Anzio campaign in Italy, and was out on the line when the German counterattack came, with a dud bomb landing four feet in front of the foxhole he was occupying. He was then promoted to first lieutenant and acted as company commander when the company commander of C Company went to the rear in the middle of combat during the breakout of Anzio. From there he went to Monte Cassino and Rome, participated in the invasion of southern France and fighting at Grenoble. Here, while still still CO of C Company (he would retire a Captain), he refused a battalion commanders order to protect his men. In Germany, his unit was directly behind the one that took Dachau and he recalled the horrific sights he saw in that concentration camp. Landgren also spoke of the execution of prisoners by both sides.
Interviewed by David Overy
St. Cloud State University, "William Landgren Oral History" (1989). World War II Veterans. 11.