Woodbury County

Marvin "Barney" Berens




Marvin William Berens, aka ‘Barney’, was born 22nd August 1920 in St. Vincent’s Hospital, Sioux City, Iowa. Parents were William and Margaret (Sweeney) Berens. (Both deceased). Brothers: Earl (deceased, 11 October 1971), and Gerard Michael (deceased 24 July 1988). Living siblings: Wayne, Donald and Marjorie Schlesser. Attended St. Boniface and Trinity High, graduating in 1938. After graduation, jobs were plentiful and went to work for Fritzell Engineering Company.

After the war, my discharge date was 9 December 1945, went back to being an electrician for Casler and Thompson Electric, 38 years. Married, my ‘Dream- Girl’, Darlene Person, 7 April 1941, at Humphrey, Platte Co., Nebraska. She died 19 May 1989. Three daughters were born to this union: Mary Ann (born 1941, died 14 February 1991), Sandy Kay (born 1946), Carol Jean (born 1949). There were and are the best. In the 1970’s, a second job held was a lure operator at Sodrac Dog Track in North Sioux City, South Dakota. I enjoy woodcrafts and it has been my hobby since 1982.

Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, the country was in turmoil. I went to McClellan Airfield, Sacramento, California. I came back home, November 1942, worked at local base until Christmas, and then enlisted in the U.S. Navy-Seabee’s. It was the right thing to do. Left January 1943, for Camp Allan, Norfolk, VA. In Virginia, also, boot training camp and Camp Perry. To Davisville, R. I., next for advance training with the Marines. The 69th NCB was formed we went to Newfoundland as warm up for what was to come. Six months later, back to U.S. The 69th was split up into two CRBU 611 and 612. Unit 611 went to South Pacific. My unit 612 went to Oran, Africa, later the invasion of South of France Toulon & Marseilles. Back to the States at Christmas for short leave and back to Davisville. From there to Pearl Harbor through the Panama Canal, on to Maui as the 133 NCB who were ready to move, attached to the 4th Marines. At sea were told our mission was to the ‘island of hell’, Iwo Jima. Our outfit was about 1000, with 250 injured, 50 killed. When the island was secured, I volunteered to run a Black top spreader. The airstrip was first, then the roads. The work was hard and hot, but I enjoyed it. I started in the navy as Seaman 1st Class and later to EMC1. Not bad for an Iowa farm boy. The war ended, I had enough points to go home. Was discharged at Chamberlain Field, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

My wife wrote almost daily. My folks wrote once a week. My two aunts, also, wrote once a week. Was glad for information from home.

Many friendships were formed during the wars. Robert Begley, from San Diego, California, was in the 69th Unit and we served in France. He stayed in France, I returned home and then on to Iwo Jima. We continued communicating over the years via letters and telephone. He passed away October of 2001, and his wife two and one-half months later. Jim Davis from St. Paul, Minnesota, was in the 69th Unit and on to the Pacific with me. We communicated over the years and visited back and forth. He passed away about six years ago.

Celebrities met while in service were, Jack Benny, Dennis Day, Rochester, Stan Musial (Cardinal) St. Louis, and Cardinal Spellman from New York City. Gene Autry, Jim Davis and I met in chow hall and talked about an hour. On Iwo Jima, two officers were named Thunder and Clark. I called them Thunder and Lighting.

I am a member of VFW, American Legion and Local Union 231 IBEW. God Bless America, land that I love.

Submitted by Barney Berens.