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Little Minnesota in World War II: The Stories Behind 140 Fallen Heroes from Minnesota's Littlest Towns

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During World War II, a total of 165 men from Minnesota’s smallest towns gave their lives for our country. Several were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross, Silver Star, and Bronze Star. All received the award no one wanted: the Purple Heart. Most of their stories have never been told publicly. Little Minnesota in World War II, by Jill A. Joh During World War II, a total of 165 men from Minnesota’s smallest towns gave their lives for our country. Several were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross, Silver Star, and Bronze Star. All received the award no one wanted: the Purple Heart. Most of their stories have never been told publicly. Little Minnesota in World War II, by Jill A. Johnson and Deane L. Johnson, honors these brave men from the smallest rural towns. From John Emery (who died December 7, 1941, on board the USS Arizona) to Herman Thelander (who was lost in the Bermuda Triangle, a mystery unsolved to this day), this unique book allows you to experience the war through personal accounts of the men and their families. With photos from the war, scans of actual letters, journal excerpts, and family memories, this one-of-a-kind book brings history to life and will make you feel prouder than ever to be Minnesotan.


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During World War II, a total of 165 men from Minnesota’s smallest towns gave their lives for our country. Several were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross, Silver Star, and Bronze Star. All received the award no one wanted: the Purple Heart. Most of their stories have never been told publicly. Little Minnesota in World War II, by Jill A. Joh During World War II, a total of 165 men from Minnesota’s smallest towns gave their lives for our country. Several were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross, Silver Star, and Bronze Star. All received the award no one wanted: the Purple Heart. Most of their stories have never been told publicly. Little Minnesota in World War II, by Jill A. Johnson and Deane L. Johnson, honors these brave men from the smallest rural towns. From John Emery (who died December 7, 1941, on board the USS Arizona) to Herman Thelander (who was lost in the Bermuda Triangle, a mystery unsolved to this day), this unique book allows you to experience the war through personal accounts of the men and their families. With photos from the war, scans of actual letters, journal excerpts, and family memories, this one-of-a-kind book brings history to life and will make you feel prouder than ever to be Minnesotan.

23 review for Little Minnesota in World War II: The Stories Behind 140 Fallen Heroes from Minnesota's Littlest Towns

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tricia F.

    Jill A. Johnson presents the reader with a small sample of the heroes from Minnesota who bravely fought in WW II. The men she writes about in her book Little Minnesota in World War II all come from very small towns throughout Minnesota, some you may have heard of, and some that no longer exist. Johnson introduces the reader to the hero through a personal letter home or a remembrance from a family member or friend. She then presents the reader with information pertaining to the service members' i Jill A. Johnson presents the reader with a small sample of the heroes from Minnesota who bravely fought in WW II. The men she writes about in her book Little Minnesota in World War II all come from very small towns throughout Minnesota, some you may have heard of, and some that no longer exist. Johnson introduces the reader to the hero through a personal letter home or a remembrance from a family member or friend. She then presents the reader with information pertaining to the service members' induction to the military and how he came to be in the area on the day of his death. Johnson then includes actual events as recorded in either eye witness accounts or in military records, which gives the reader the sense of actually being on the scene. She ends the narrative of each hero describing where they are buried. Throughout the reading of this book, I found that I came to feel a sense of loss for each family. I wondered what the families went through as their sons, brothers, uncles, husbands, fathers went off to war. The not knowing where they were, how they were doing, if they were safe. Not hearing from them for months and then finally getting a letter that they wrote two months earlier. What was it like to know that your family member was stationed somewhere in Europe or the Pacific but not having instant news like we do today? Having only newspapers or if you were lucky to afford a radio for your news source? The worry that the families went through each and every day must have been horrible! The historical information, personal narratives, and the historical and personal photographs included in his book make this a book worth reading (even if you aren't a fan of history)!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mike Brubaker

    Little Minnesota in World War II the Stories Behind 140 Fallen Heroes From Minnesota’s Littlest Towns, by Jill A. Johnson and Deane L. Johnson Collecting the life stories of 140 men whose lives ended in the service of their country is by default an attractive topic. Reading about men who died in World War Two seems to guarantee a readable book. Yet, questions arise about the methodology, the research, and the selection process of these 140 proclaimed heroes. This book tells the stories of men kil Little Minnesota in World War II the Stories Behind 140 Fallen Heroes From Minnesota’s Littlest Towns, by Jill A. Johnson and Deane L. Johnson Collecting the life stories of 140 men whose lives ended in the service of their country is by default an attractive topic. Reading about men who died in World War Two seems to guarantee a readable book. Yet, questions arise about the methodology, the research, and the selection process of these 140 proclaimed heroes. This book tells the stories of men killed in World War Two. By devoting one or two pages to each individual, this book is a very readable tribute to sacrifice. The length of each biography allows the reader to skip through the pages, reading brief snippets and leaving the book for a time. The book acknowledges significant sacrifice. The loss of the USS Spence in typhoon Cobra, with the lives of four Minnesotans, out of the 336 lost, reinforces the dangers and the arbitrary destruction of war. Unfortunately, with this wonderful story at hand, the research and methodologies of the book remain questionable. The authors never really define the terms “littlest towns” in Minnesota. Are these littlest by population or geographic size? Why were these towns chosen? As an example, Becker in Sherburne County maintained a population of about 240 in 1940. Staff Sgt. Lawrence Lind lived in Becker and died in action January 25, 1945. There is no mention of Lawrence Lind in this book. This all suggests the authors need more in-depth research and a true definition of the littlest towns in Minnesota. The stories this book tells highlight unique sacrifices made by Minnesota patriots. Yet, the research is suspect. Exploring the references of this book further suggests the authors took the path of least resistance to find details of these soldiers. The authors make no mention of the service records destroyed in the fire of 1973, or the availability of other service records. Did the authors make any contact with the National Personnel Records Center in Saint Louis? The research seems to be heavy on internet sources and very few original sources. Although, to their credit they used local newspapers and family interviews for some of their information. In terms of editing and indexing, the authors need to give greater care. There are a number of simple typographical errors. Perhaps most egregious, a portion of the index of soldiers lost from little Minnesota repeats itself. In spite of the shortcomings of this book, Johnson and Johnson provide an interesting tribute to men dying in service during World Wart Two. Yet, for all of their hard work and fine writing, their research and editing fall short.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Chelsey

  4. 4 out of 5

    Gina

  5. 5 out of 5

    Christine Ayala-Zierke

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bixmen

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sandra Perez

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Brandt

  9. 4 out of 5

    Madeline

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bobbi

  11. 5 out of 5

    sharon bassett

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jill A.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rock County Community Library

  14. 5 out of 5

    Erin

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sue Smith

  16. 5 out of 5

    Karah Hawkinson

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ray Avery

  18. 5 out of 5

    Meinders Library

  19. 5 out of 5

    Leah Bodle

  20. 4 out of 5

    amanda

  21. 5 out of 5

    clayton mjolsness

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dave R.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne Emery

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