Wayne Nelson Oral History
Wayne Nelson was born on December 12, 1921 in Chokio, Minnesota, to Harry and Agnes Nelson. Nelson served in the National Guard from 1939 to 1941 when his unit was nationalized into the US Army. He served until February 1946. He was first stationed in the Aleutian Islands and then later in the European Theater. He served here for the rest of World War II until he was wounded and sent back to the States. He worked as an educational therapist at the VA Medical Center in St. Cloud until retiring in 1984. Nelson was married on Betty Gross on April 1, 1948 and they had seven children – Kathie, Karen, Janet, Carol, Gayle, Doug, and David. Wayne died on January 19, 2001 and buried in the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery in Little Falls, Minnesota.
In an interview conducted on March 23, 1989, Wayne Nelson described his experiences in the Minnesota National Guard before the war and when the news came regarding the attack on Pearl Harbor. While in California, Nelson recalled B-25s being loaded onto a carrier for the Doolittle Raid. Soon after, his National Guard unit was nationalized and shipped to Umnak Island in the Aleutian Islands off of Alaska. Here he described his time while in Alaska, including the living situation, what they were doing there, and general conditions while there. After serving in the Aleutians, Nelson was sent to California for training and eventually shipped to France in early 1945. Once in France, Nelson’s unit made its way over to Germany and south to the Ruhr pocket. Here he was wounded in combat. Because of his wounds, he was sent back to England and eventually to the States to recover. Nelson discussed the extent and treatment of his combat wounds. He finally discussed the combat experience of Americans compared to the Germans.
Interview by David Overy
St. Cloud State University, "Wayne Nelson Oral History" (1989). World War II Veterans. 31.