Hvindens’ book tells of Benson County war veterans
Book tells of war veterans with area ties
Lyle Lunde, a member of the crew aboard the U.S. Navy ship, Wichita, was part of history in providing guard off the Newfoundland coast during a secret August 1941 meeting of President Franklin Roosevelt, British Prime Minster Winston Churchill and Russia’s Joseph Stalin.
Frank Bigelow was forced to do hard labor in a coal mine while a prisoner in a Japanese Army prison camp in the Philippines. He battled malaria and lost a leg from a mine injury, spending a year in a Naval hospital after the war.
Erling Logan attended Japanese language school to become an interpreter and intelligence officer in the Marines during World War II. He was the first American sent into Nagasaki after the atomic bomb was dropped and worked to return displaced Europeans in Asia to their homelands or the newly formed Israel.
Lunde, an Esmond native, went on to serve as Bottineau County sheriff for many years.
Bigelow, a Rugby High School graduate, became the first World War II veteran to receive a government check for his time in captivity – a dollar for each of his 1,198 days – and fought unsuccessfully for years for reparations from Japan.
Maj. Logan, also an Esmond native, relocated to Idaho and later California, returning to the teaching profession he had left to join the war.
A new book by Maddock native and former newspaperman Marlan Hvinden and his wife, Nancy, recounts the stories of these and other World War II veterans who had connections to Benson County in North Dakota during their lifetimes. The book acknowledges numerous other veterans from that war as well as briefly touches on veterans from World War I and the Civil War.
“The Heroes Next Door: Benson County WWII Veterans” is a 436-page volume that includes about 1,500 veterans. There are sections on women who served as nurses or in clerical positions and a section on Native Americans with Fort Totten connections who served.
Marlan Hvinden said the book focuses primarily on World War II because of the availability of information and photos. Seven living veterans, two of whom since died, were interviewed for the book.
“There are stories that have really never been told,” Hvinden said. “There are a number of stories that are really unbelievable.”
One story tells of a pilot from Esmond who was shot down over Belgium, captured by German police and taken into the woods to be shot. Details of his death were unknown to the pilot’s family until uncovered in research for the book. The incident was one of the cases in the Nuremberg Trials, during which Nazi war criminals were tried.
Another veteran from rural Esmond was a ski trooper in Norway. He was with a group that parachuted into Japanese prisoner of war camps in Burma and North Vietnam shortly before the end of the war to ensure the safekeeping of Allied prisoners. It also was a story untold previously to the veteran’s family.
Hvinden said information comes from documented sources, including newspaper accounts from the day and official records.
“Everything that we have is documented,” Hvinden said.
The Hvindens had been working on the book periodically over the past 15 years.
“In 2017, we really started getting on top of it,” Hvinden said. “A lot was classified as late as 2017 and we didn’t have access to it before that. After that, a lot of it was released so we were able to open up new trails to check on a lot of these things.
“We think it’s a legacy-quality book,” he added. “It’s a pretty comprehensive book.”
Hvinden, formerly of Garrison, is a retired McLean County auditor and author of the North Dakota-based history,“Justice was Swift: Tales of the Old West.” Nancy Borgeson Hvinden has written many genealogies and church histories.
Limited copies of “The Heroes Next Door” are available at Main Street Books in Minot. Mailed copies are available for $65 from Hvinden Publications, 772 Shelby Ct. NE, Thompson, ND 58278 or by calling 330-5235 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is no additional charge for tax and postage if ordered before Dec. 15.