Monona County

Russell Blair Nuzum




Russell Blair Nuzum, was born 13 August 1925, to Linzy and Mabel (Mortonsen) Nuzum, of Moorhead, Iowa. Russell attended school in Moorhead, graduating in the spring of 1943. Russell has a sister, Jan Koskovick, of Omaha, Nebraska.

He joined the U.S. Navy, 28 March 1944. His training was in Farragut, Idaho, San Diego and Fall Brook, California. He was stationed on the battleship, USS Pennsylvania, 5th Division. His duty was the operation of anti aircraft guns on the starboard side halfway back from the bow. He was also responsible for cleaning the guns after they had been fired.

He was anchored in Buckner Bay of Okinawa on 13 August 1945, his birthday, fighting off Kamikaze fighters all day.

When it was just getting dark, all the crew was laying on the stern of the ship because it was too hot below. Russell had just come up from down below with his mattress, when he noticed a Japanese Zero armed with a torpedo headed for the stern of the ship, flying low to the water. The torpedo was dropped hitting the ship, blowing a big hole in the stern. The guys lying on their mattresses flew into the air because of the concussion from the blast. They then upped the anchor and headed out to sea with a bent propeller causing serious vibration. Since 13th August was the last day of the war, they brought the ship back into the bay the next day and ran it aground at high tide. When the tide went out, the bodies floated out of the hole blown in the ship. In all, 39 sailors had lost their lives. Mechanics were sent to cut the propellers off, using a huge crane to set the damaged one on the deck.

After the war, Russell was stationed in Astoria, Oregon, at the mouth of the Columbia River. He was discharged in the winter of 1945. He moved back to Sioux City in 1946. He lived at 14th and Jackson streets and went to work for Armour Packing Company. He married Rayme Reed of South Sioux City, on 19 December 1958. They lived at 1013 South Newton in Morningside. Two children were born to this union, Tracy and Erik.

Russell died 12 September 1991, due to heart complications, at St. Lukes, in a Sioux City hospital. He is buried at Graceland Park Cemetery, Sioux City.

Russell was buried with full military rites conducted by Monahan Post 64, American Legion, of Sioux City.

Written and Submitted by Jerry Reed, his brother-in-law.

USS Pennsylvania BB-38