||Sgt. John C. F. Onken
4th Cavalry Reconnaissance, Troop A
|Sharon Oltmanns compiled the material on this page.
Lt. Richard N. Hoag and Sgt. John Onken, both former residents of Monticello and vicinity, were killed in the invasion thrust in Normandy on D-day, June 6, 1944. These were the first deaths to be reported on invasion day that affected this community. Click on their names to read their obituaries.
|By Shane E. Olson
Halma-Lake Bronson SAL Post Commander
At 0530 (H minus 1 hours)on June 6th, 1944, prior to the main DDAY landings, Sgt. John C F Onken of Troop A was killed in action during the landing on Iles St Marcouf off the coast of Utah Beach. Awarded the Bronze Arrowhead posthumously. "Let us dedicate ourselves to the task of carrying on that those whom we honor shall not have died in vain."
Source: Behind the Badge
|The teams of scouts were composed of Sergeant (then Corporal) Harvey Olson and Private Thomas Killoran, both from the 4th Squadron, for the island “île de Terre” and Sergeant John Zanders and Corporal Melvin Kenzie, both from the 24th Squadron, for the island “île du Large.”
These scout teams approached the islands in rubber boats which they sunk offshore so they could swim silently to the beach. Armed only with knives, they brought flashlights to give the signal of approach to the two LCA for each island.
The first team to land was the one of Sergeant Olson and Private Killoran at about 0415 hrs.
The 4th Cavalry Group seized the two islands. No German was found but the islands were full of S Mines, called by the GIs “bouncing betties”. These mines, once you have walked on them, bounce out of the ground to three feet high before exploding, propulsing steel balls and other splinters, reaching the men at half height. These mines caused 19 casualties, among them were two killed, Sergeant John Onken from the 4th Squadron and Private Anton Elvesaeter from the 24th Squadron (?).
The Napoleonic fort itself was rigged with explosives. The operation was over at 0530 hrs, one hour before the landing of the first seaborne troops (8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division) on the coast of France.
Sergeant Olson received the Silver Star for his action on June 6 1944. He was wounded later during the fight at Villedieu and a second time at Mortain. But, he finished World War Two with his unit and participated in the war in Korea. He left the Army in 1963 and died in September 2002. His own father, Herbert Olson, had been seriously wounded at St Mihiel, France, during WWI.
Source: Liberation Museum—Sainte Marie du Mont (France)