PVT Russell Duane Wittenberg

Unknown Sailor

PVT Russell Duane Wittenberg

Russell Duane Wittenberg was born June 22, 1920 in Hawkeye, population 582, in northeast Iowa to Gary Wittenberg and Mathilda Russler Wittenberg. HIs father was a farmer and his mother a homemaker.

She died in April 1930 when Russell was still nine. As late as 1937 he attended school south of Hawkeye at either Maynard or Randalia, nearby towns about six miles apart.

By spring 1940, Russell, his father, and brother Robert were living in Ellsworth Township about 50 miles west of Minneapolis. Russell was employed at a Civilian Conservation Corps camp — a Depression-era federal jobs program. His father was a farm hand.

Russell traveled to Minneapolis and enlisted in the Marines on Oct. 10, 1940. He traveled with two other men from rural Meeker County, population about 19,000. Donald S. Hultman was accepted, but Clifford Ailie was rejected because he was color blind.

Wittenberg and Hultman were assigned to the U.S.S. Arizona, and both were killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941. Mr. Wittenberg was a private and Mr. Hultman was a private first class.

Mr. Wittenberg’s body was recovered and is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at the Punchbowl in Honolulu. Mr. Hultman’s body was not recovered after the attack. There’s a cenotaph in his memory at Dassel Community Cemetery in Dassel, Minnesota.

The third friend, Mr. Ailie, was drafted into the Army after Pearl Harbor and served until August 1945.


Sources: the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, Minnesota; the Fayette (Iowa) County Leader; The Courier of Waterloo, Iowa; the Dassel-Cokato (Minnesota) Enterprise Dispatch; Evangelical Lutheran Church in America records; Census; Marine Corps muster rolls; Iowa birth record; U.S. National Cemetery Interment Control Form. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.

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