Woodbury County

Robert Bernard Petersen



Robert Bernard Petersen was born 20 March 1921, Morgan Township, to Jens C. and Luella M. (Strackbein) Petersen. Siblings are Marvin, Lester, and Benjamin. Robert attended school in rural Morgan Township, graduating from Anthon in 1939.

Robert was deferred from military service to farm his own farm and to help with his father’s farms. However, he did not want to avoid military service and enlisted in February 1944. Although his parents already had one son in service overseas and did need his help on the farm, they did not try any longer to keep Robert from enlisting. He did not specifically choose to serve in the navy; that is where he was assigned.

Robert was sent to the Naval Training Station, Farragut, Idaho, for boot camp and for training as a shipboard gunner. After training, he served on the troop transport USS Clearfield until a few weeks before he was discharged. The USS Clearfield transported troops to the Pacific area of the war, and he was in action in the South Pacific. A high point of his service was being near Tokyo Bay on VJ Day. After VJ Day, his ship transported Chinese nationalist troops who were fighting the communist takeover in China. He was honorably discharged mid-1946 with the rank of Gunners Mate Third Class.

Robert writes in his letters that he enjoyed the schooling and found the instructors to treat the servicemen like ‘human beings for once’. He writes of learning to repair so he can make repairs when he is out in the field. He
writes of seeing Russell Dixon, and how he left for California on a Ship Repair Unit. Russell told him that Norman Broderson went with the Amphibious forces. He writes about the Navy ‘brought a bunch of boys out here from Great Lakes and Sampson, New York. The boys from Sampson are in the same class I’m in, they sure don’t like it out here’.

Robert writes on 14 February 1946 about transferring to the U.S.S. Dorthea L. Dix P.A. 67. It isn’t as clean and new as the Clearfield. It is an older ship. “From what I’ve seen of it so far it’s a better ship to be on”.

Robert wrote interesting and chatty letters home to his family. His wife, Enid, still has the box of letters to his mother. They give an insight to his years in the Navy. They are fortunate to have such letters.

Robert married Enid L. Neal, 17 July 1949, in Moorhead, Iowa. They have three children, Scott, Alan, and Lori Gates. They have six grand- children, Alex, April, Jeremy, and Robert (Robby) Petersen, Emily and Ian Gates.

Robert was a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church at Midway. Robert passed away 13 April 2003, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He is buried in the Midway Cemetery in Morgan Township.

Submitted by Enid L. Petersen.

Gunner's Mate-Class 40-44 - U.S. Naval Training Center - Farragut, Idaho - Sept. 16, 1944