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Local Veterans Lie in Foreign Cemeteries

Updated: Dec 6, 2022

Each Memorial Day and Veterans Day, thoughts of how we honor our war heroes come to mind. Several years ago, the Netherlands American Cemetery in Margraten began displaying photos on Memorial Day of the American soldiers buried there. In preparation for the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII, the cemetery put out a request to find more photos to complete their collection, and articles were written in the U.S. requesting help. Results poured in and only a few photos from Minnesota and North Dakota have not been located.

Airmen stand with wreaths during the 2018 Veterans Day Ceremony at Cambridge American Cemetery. Image courtesy of David Cross. Cambridge American Cemetery | American Battle Monuments Commission (
Airmen stand with wreaths during the 2018 Veterans Day Ceremony at Cambridge American Cemetery. Image courtesy of David Cross. Cambridge American Cemetery | American Battle Monuments Commission (

Now, the Cambridge Cemetery in England has put out a request to locate photos for a similar project. In their program, Faces of Cambridge, they hope to find photos of all U.S. soldiers buried or memorialized there.

In a recent issue of the Fargo Forum, columnist Tracy Briggs wrote, “The Cambridge Cemetery contains the remains of 3,811 of our war dead and 5,127 names are recorded on the Walls of the Missing. Rosettes mark the names of those since recovered and identified. Most died in the Atlantic or in the strategic air bombardment of northwest Europe.” Her article went on to list the names of the soldiers in North Dakota and Minnesota who needed photos and requested help from readers.

Two of the names listed were from Pembina County, North Dakota, and with research through scrapbook articles (most likely from the Cavalier Chronicle), in the Veterans of Icelandic Descent World War II, and from the database of Icelandic Roots, photos and information were found and submitted for Larus Theodore Snydal of Gardar, ND and Gamaliel Theodore Arason of Mountain, ND. One soldier from Walsh County, John G. Kowalski, was also listed but at this time no photo has been found.

Seaman Apprentice Gamaliel Theodore Arason was born in Mountain, ND April 2, 1922, and graduated from Mountain High School. He enlisted for training at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station and went overseas in January 1943. He was en route to Iceland on the USS Henry R Mallory which was sunk in the North Atlantic on Feb. 8, 1943. He was pronounced as going down with his ship. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. S. A. Arason of Gardar. Memorial at Cambridge American Cemetery, England.

S-Sgt. Larus Theodore Snydal, the son of Skarphéðinn and Kristin Snydal was born in Gardar, ND January 29, 1919. He joined the Army Air Force in July of 1942. He served in several parts of the U.S. before embarking overseas. He was killed on his first mission over enemy territory, on June 11, 1943. He was awarded the Air Medal and the Purple Heart. Memorial at Cambridge American Cemetery, England.

This Pembina County connection led to research on a site from North Dakota Veterans Affairs at which provided the names of those WWII soldiers of Pembina County who died and were buried or memorialized overseas. Following is the list of those men, home town if provided, and their place of burial or memorial.

PFC William H. Nelson Akra, ND: Manila American Cemetery

Ships Cook 2c Lawrence M. Kennedy, Pembina, ND: Sicily-Rome American Cemetery

Pvt. Gilbert P. Lafferty, Leyden, ND: Henri Chapelle American Cemetery

Capt. Donald R. Emerson, Pembina, ND: Margraten, Netherlands American Cemetery

PFC Raymond A. Westling: Normandy American Cemetery

1st Lt. Robert D. Kaercher, Cavalier, ND: Normandy American Cemetery

PFC Leon H. Brillon, Walhalla, ND: Lorraine American Cemetery

PFC Earl L. Boyer, St. Joseph, ND: Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery

Corp. George J. Gillies, Pembina, ND: Cambridge American Cemetery, England

Pvt. Ed Steffan: Manila American Cemetery

PFC Henry Gurke, Neche, ND died at Bougainville. Memorial at Neche, ND but no

information found about a memorial overseas.

Pvt. Elmer A. Puppe, Hensel, ND: Sicily-Rome American Cemetery

SK2c Clarence A. Dunn, Pembina, ND: Honolulu Memorial

Staff Sgt. Lester W. Puppe, Hensel, ND: Sicily-Rome American Cemetery

Sgt. George L. Daniels, Midland Twp. St. Thomas, ND: Lorraine American Cemetery

AMM2c Hjalmar M. Davidson, Gardar: ND buried at sea, memorial Manila American

Cemetery and Gardar Cemetery.

Tech. 5c Edward J. Leibinger: Epinal American Cemetery and Memorial

MM3c Alcide E. Brillon, Walhalla, ND: Manila American Cemetery

Seaman 1c Howard H. Kukuk, Cavalier, ND: USS Arizona Memorial and Cavalier Cemetery

Electrician’s Mate 3 C Glen E. Nicholson, Bowesmont, ND: USS Arizona Memorial

Sgt. Einar Nelson, Akra, ND: Honolulu Memorial

PFC Richard L. Rutherford, Walhalla, ND: Honolulu Memorial

Shipfitter 1c Melvin L. Nicholson, Bowesmont, ND: Honolulu Memorial

PFC Francis S. Horgan Neche, ND: Luxembourg American Cemetery

PFC Joseph P. Dennick, Beaulieu Twp. ND: Manila American Cemetery

Cpl. Alton H. Reishus: Netherland American Cemetery, Margraten

PFC Ray S. Kreamer: Ardennes American Cemetery

Sgt. Allan L Maxwell: Henri -Chapelle American Cemetery Belgium

EM1 George A. Bell, Hensel, ND: Lost in the Mediterranean Sea, no monuments listed

Pvt. Steingrimur Steinolfson, Thingvalla Twp, ND: Papua, New Guinea, buried Mountain ND.

These names have also been identified as being from Pembina County but are not in place on North Dakota Veterans Affairs website at this time. They are being submitted for addition:

Pvt. Stephan Olason, Hensel, ND: Burma, no overseas memorials identified

S-Sgt. Kristjan Theodore Vivatson, Svold, ND: Bougainville, Manila American Cemetery and Peters Cemetery

PFC A. Leonard Bernhoft, Cavalier, ND: Leyte, monument at Cavalier

Pvt. George W. McDonald, Cavalier, ND: Italy, no overseas memorial listed

2nd Lt. Marvin H Hjalmarson, Akra, ND: Holland, no overseas memorial listed

PFC John H. Einarson, Gardar, ND: Luzon, buried at Gardar ND

Pvt. Lester E. Bill, Cavalier, ND: France, buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery, MN

PFC Millard E. Rasmussen: Leyte, buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery, MN

How can we honor these heroes today? At the Netherlands American Cemetery, for more than 70 years locals have cared for gravesites and adopted a particular grave site as their own to tend, and to bring flowers to on Memorial Days, birthdays, etc. The tradition is so strong that the soldier is treated as family and the tending of their grave is passed on to the next generation in their family who will then care for the gravesite.

There is a waiting list to adopt a gravesite at Margraten.

In our area, graves are tended by families, and local American Legion posts place flags at gravesites or memorials and have a ceremony on Memorial Day to honor these heroes who never came home.

In some cases, there are no family members remaining to care for the graves, so perhaps attending ceremonies on Memorial Day, adopting a grave, or simply finding out more about the soldiers we honor would be fitting this Memorial Day.

Perhaps the military connection has been forgotten in your family history. For research into your family military history consider the North Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs site mentioned above, Icelandic Roots at, or several other sites that honor military heroes.

The Pembina County Historical Museum, Cavalier, ND has a veteran’s memorial site and a wealth of information. As always, there may be errors in the information provided at these sites, so, if any are found in the above article about Pembina County please contact the Veterans Affairs office listed above to correct or add any details that are missing. If you have an interest in this Cambridge project, contact Tracy Briggs at


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