Faces of the

Richard E.

Andrew J.


Normandy 44


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It is significant to us that faces of the soldiers
are moulded after the ones of GI's who died in Périers or its area

Virgil John Tangborn (1920-1944)
Virgil J. Tangborn
Picture taken in Abilene
Texas in 1944 and displayed during the
service held at the Nary
church on July 9, 1944

Virgil John Tangborn (1920-1944)

On May 23, 1920 Virgil was born in Schleswig, Iowa. His parents were Vaner Tangborn and Jennie Oase. He had a sister Luella, and brothers Ardell, Arnold (Archie), Wendell and Duane (Donnie).

Virgil John Tangborn (1920-1944)
Virgil J. Tangborn
Picture taken in
(computer colourized)

When he was 10 years old, the family moved to a small farm in the wilds of Northern Minnesota close to the little town of Nary. Going to the local school he takes an active part within many associations. For many years he has been playing in the local band and reading every week a great score of books borrowed from the public library.

On July 17, 1941 he is drafted , and then takes his physical examination for conscription on February 18, 1942 and additional tests at Fort Snelling on March 20, 1942.

Each day he adds a few lines to his personal diary. On March 26, 1942 he writes : "Man must struggle to make his life wealthy for becoming a significant tool of the development of mankind". Those words were written when, as he says, feeling himself in a hardly found serenity dating from just a few days ago. He claims his new feeling "a strong will to carry out something great is rising in me, life till today has been too much beautiful to me and I take the resolution not to relapse into this easy way. At last, I can face reality without fear".

Virgil John Tangborn (1920-1944)
Virgil J. Tangborn

On March 27, 1942 the town celebrates the draftees’ departure and local personalities deliver their patriotic speeches. On March 30, 1942 he is drafted into the American army and serves under the command of Mr. Lin Arison within the band of the 90th Infantry Division.

Discover the many other documents, pictures and moving memories sent by Tangborn's family
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By the time of the landing, all members of the band are scattered into six different groups (all referring to medical service) but deployed within different units and, without being really prepared to it, Virgil is assigned as a litter-bearer to a company of the 359th Regiment of the 90th Division.

Virgil John Tangborn (1920-1944)

On June 14, 1944 Virgil is killed in the vicinity of Amfreville, while trying to rescue the driver of a burning ammo truck.

On Sunday July 9, 1944 a service is held in his memory in the much too small Baptist church of Nary. People came not only from Nary, but also from all around, from Bemidji, Cass Lake, Laporte, Guthrie and Park Rapids as well. Reverend Charles Swindells says the mass. Men of the Bemidji American Legion post walk ahead bearing the flags. The crowd sings "Under his wings" and "The lord is my Shepherd" and before breaking up the whole audience keeps a devoted minute of silence.

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