Hamilton County

Lt (jg) William Conrad Ostlund





Mrs. Mary Ostlund of this city has received a cablegram from her son Ensign William Ostlund saying he has arrived safely by plane at a base somewhere in the Pacific. He left San Francisco last week for service with the submarine forces.

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, July 24, 1943


Ensign William C. Ostlund, son of Mrs. Mary Ostlund of this city, is serving aboard one of the most active U.S. submarines in the Pacific area—a sub which was awarded the Presidential unit citation for the remarkable record of war patrols carried out in enemy controlled waters.

Mrs. Ostlund has received word that Adm. Chester W. Nimitz presented the citation to officers and men of the sub at the Pearl Harbor base.  Comdr. E. M. Grenfell, first to sink an enemy sub from a U.S. submarine in this war, and Comdr. William S. Post, Jr., present Captain of the sub, were awarded, respectively, the silver star and gold star in lieu of a second silver star.

A newspaper account of the citation says the sub “has written a sensational record—a story of ship sinking’s and damagings so large the Navy is keeping the figures secret; a story of surviving depth charging, aerial bombings and even surface gunfire.”

Ensign Ostlund is now back somewhere in the Pacific on duty with the sub.  He has been in the submarine service since last April. 

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, January 4, 1944

When John Ostlund, 19, son of Mrs. Mary Ostlund of this city, received his bombardier’s wings March 18 at Deming air field, N. M., he was commissioned a second lieutenant as a “triple threat” officer in the air corps as he was schooled in gunnery, navigation and bombing.

His commissioning completed a “triple threat” in the Ostlund family since his older brothers William and Robert hold commissions in the navy and the army, respectively.


Lt. (jg) William Ostlund, 25, oldest of the trio, now on submarine duty in the south Pacific, enlisted in the navy in February, 1942, entering the naval academy at Annapolis the following September. Following his graduation and commissioning as an ensign in January, 1942 he volunteered for sub duty and was transferred to Key West, Fla., and later to New London, Conn., for special training. He left for overseas duty last July and has seen plenty of action aboard his sub which last December received the presidential unit citation for outstanding performance of duty. He won his lieutenancy last December.

Lieutenant Ostlund is a graduate of the Webster City schools with the class of 1936 and received his B. A degree in business administration at Butler university, Indianapolis, Ind., in 1941.


First Lt. Robert Ostlund, 24, now overseas in England, enlisted in January, 1942, taking his initial training with the quartermaster corps at Camp Warren, Cheyenne Wyo. He took officers training at Camp Lee, Va., and was commissioned March 19, 1943, being transferred first to Sacramento, Cal., and later to Camp Young, India, Cal., where he was in charge of troops preparing for overseas action last January. Lieutenant Ostlund graduated from Webster City high school in 1937 and, like his elder brother, received his B. A. degree at Butler university in 1941.

Lt. John Ostlund entered the service in 1942 leaving to begin training Feb. 2, 1943. He took his initial work at Jefferson Barracks, Mo., later took college training at Hastings, Neb, and then went into pre-flight training at Santa Ana, Cal. He attended gunnery school at Kingman, Ariz., and wound up his bombardier’s course at Deming three weeks ago. The youngest of the Ostlund “triple threat” aggregation graduated in 1942 from high school here and attended Butler university for a short time before returning to Webster City and entering junior college until he was called to duty.

All three of the officers were athletic standouts in Webster City during their prep careers. The lieutenants were particularly outstanding in basketball but also participated in baseball and football with William adding track to his activities.

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, April 6, 1944 (photos included)

Webster City Navy Officer Reported Missing in Pacific.

Lt. (jg) William Ostlund, son of Mrs. N.M. Ostlund of this city, is missing in action aboard a U.S. submarine somewhere in the Pacific, his mother has been notified by the navy department.

The news that Lieutenant Ostlund is missing was received here Wednesday morning by his mother and also by his wife, who has been visiting here.

Oldest of three brothers in service, Lieutenant Ostlund had been in the Navy for more than two years and was an officer aboard one of the Navy’s most outstanding subs.

As a member of the sub’s crew, the lieutenant had received the presidential unit citation for meritorious achievement on missions in the Pacific.

The sub was leaving on its third mission when the Webster City officer was last heard from two months ago.

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, June 7, 1944 (photo included)


Lt. (jg) William Ostlund, son of Mrs. Mary Ostlund of this city, served aboard the U.S. submarine Gudgeon and was reported missing in action by the navy department a short time ago.  The Webster City officer was a member of the sub’s crew when the undersea craft received a presidential unit citation for outstanding action against the enemy in the Pacific.

The submarine Gudgeon with her crew of approximately 65 officers and men is overdue and presumed lost, the Navy announced, Tuesday.

Loss of the Gudgeon raises to 29 the number of submarines lost since the war started. Of that total four were lost in non-operational missions.

No information was given by the Navy on where the Gudgeon operated on her last war patrol, but presumably she was engaged in operations against the Japanese.

The Gudegeon was commissioned in April, 1941.

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, September 12, 1944

His Obituary:

William Conrad Ostlund was born on July 2, 1918, on a farm south of Duncombe, Iowa. He was the first child born to Mary Clelland Ostlund and Newet Marcelius Ostlund. He was baptized in the Norwegian Lutheran church in Duncombe.
The family moved to Webster City in 1923. He was confirmed in the English Lutheran church in 1931, and was graduated from the Lincoln high school in 1936. He was a member of all high school athletic teams and a member of the academic honor society.
He attended Iowa State college for a year and was a member of freshman athletic teams and was initiated into Phi Delta Theta fraternity. The following year he transferred to Butler university in Indianapolis, Ind., and was graduated in 1941 with a B.S. degree in business administration. He was a member of the three class honorary societies, editor of the college year book, president of Phi Delta Theta and was admitted to Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities.
For a year following graduation he was associated with his mother in the Webster City Implement company. During this time he became a member of the Masonic order in Webster City.
In February, 1942, he enlisted in the United States navy. He reported to naval reserve officers' training at Annapolis, Md., in September of that year and upon completion of the course was commissioned an ensign.
On Jan. 5, 1943, at the naval academy chapel in Annapolis, Md., he was united in marriage with Peggy Burrell of Indianapolis, Ind.
Having volunteered for submarine duty he was transferred to Key West, Fla., and later to New London, Conn., for further training. In July, 1943, he departed from the United States for overseas service and was on his fourth patrol when reported missing aboard the U.S.S. Gudgeon as of May 5, 1944. On Jan. 28, 1946, word was received from the secretary of the navy stating that in view of no further information either official or unconfirmed since the submarine had been reported missing, it must be presumed that all aboard had perished.
His father passed away on Aug. 3, 1930. William is survived by his wife, Peggy Burrell Ostlund, his mother, Mrs. Mary O. Marsh, two brothers, Robert and John and maternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Clelland.
Memorial services were held in the English Lutheran church, Sunday afternoon, Feb. 10, with the Rev. H.C. Coovert officiating, using as his text Rev. 2:10, "Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee the crown of life." Mrs. Coovert had charge of the music and a double quartet composed of Mrs. Merrill Coursey, Mrs. F.S. Prater, Mardella Warland, Irene Mueller, C.M. Loper, M.E. Fardal, Milo Foster and Guilford West, sang "My Jesus As Thou Wilt," and "Abide With Me."
The American Legion presented the flag to Mrs. Peggy Ostlund.
The church was filled to capacity with relatives and friends, gathered to pay their last respects to the memory of Bill.

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, Saturday, February 16, 1946


William Conrad Ostlund was born July 2, 1918, to Newet M. and Mary M. Clelland Ostlund. He is memorialized at the Tablets of the Missing, Honolulu Memorial, Honolulu, HI. He has a cenotaph at Graceland Cemetery, Webster City, IA.

Lt. Ostlund was reported as missing in action June 1944, and by Sept. 1944 was overdue and presumed lost on the submarine USS Gudgeon. He was awarded the Purple Heart.

Lt. Ostlund served aboard the USS Gudgeon (SS-211) which has been presumed to have been sunk in air attack off Iwo Jima on Apr 18, 1944. Ostlund’s nephew, Mike Ostlund has written a book titled: Find ‘Em, Chase ‘Em, Sink ‘Em’ - The Mysterious Loss Of The WWII Submarine USS GUDGEON.

Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, IA
World War II Memorial
National Purple Heart Hall of Honor