Sherburne History Center

Sherburne History Center
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Friday, December 14, 2018

Pearl Harbor and the Men From Elk River

Attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941

After the attack at Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, the country suffered a level of crisis not experienced in eons.  For many, the original concern arose from not knowing of the survival of family members serving and stationed in Hawaii.  Some families in Sherburne County experienced this anxiety. 

The survival of Orville Burandt and Charles Nogle, both residents near Elk River, remained unknown for some time in 1941.  Their families and friends remained in limbo for several weeks after the initial attacks.

Orville Burandt, serving in the navy since early in 1941 sent information to the Sherburne County Star News about his service.  He arrived in Peral Harbor in August 1941.  According to the newspaper report Burandt served in the communications office of the Flag of Patrol Wing 2.  His duties included forwarding communications to and from patrol planes.  Two weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor, news finally arrived in Elk River that Orville Burandt was “all right and feeling fine.” 

The life of Charles Nogle, however, remained in question.  Rumors reported Nogle as killed or possibly taken prisoner at Guam in late 1941.  Japanese forces invaded Guam the day after Pearl Harbor, seizing control of the island in a matter of a few days.  The local newspapers reported the early attacks against the United States.  Yet, the newspapers failed to verify the rumors regarding the soldiers.  What is known: Nogle returned from the war to Sherburne County In 1946.  His service record remained unreported. 

Rumors remained a common source of information throughout the war. A letter published in the Sherburne County Star News reinforced, however, the inaccuracies of so many rumors.  Stanley Wheaton, stationed at Felts Field, Washington State, in 1941, reminded newspapers readers of the rumors and their inaccuracies.  “The army is the greatest place for rumors to get started,” he wrote.  “And when they start they fly thick and fast.” 

With the attack at Pearl Harbor, the lives of so many Sherburne County residents fell into turmoil.  Men who were drafted and their families all suffered a unique level of crisis until the men returned home.