Plymouth County

Pfc. Henry W. Ommen


Former LeMars Youth Saw Action In Airborne Division

Relatives in LeMars have received word of the death of Pfc. Henry Ommen, who was killed in action while on a mission over Belgium on January 21. Several weeks ago he wrote his parents that he was in a hospital suffering from badly frozen feet but apparently had sufficiently recovered to be back on duty.

Pfc. Ommen entered the service while living in LeMars in March 1943. He took his basic training at Camp Butner, North Carolina, and his paratrooper training at Fort Benning, Georgia. He went overseas one year ago.

Pfc. Ommen was born in Plymouth County on December 21, 1923, and is the son of Mr. and Mrs. John Ommen, who moved to Howard, S.D., a year ago. He attended public school in LeMars and graduated from the local high school with the Class of 1942.

He is survived by his parents, two sisters, Mrs. Gerald Henrich of Akron, Mrs. Robert Paswalk of Hawarden; three brothers, Erwin, who is in the Navy stationed at Farragut, Idaho; and Melvin and Donald, at home. He is also survived by his paternal grandmother, Mrs. Henry Ommen, Sr. of LeMars.

Source: LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel, February 13, 1945

Shrapnel Ripped Ammunition Belt and Ruined Gun

Mr. and Mrs. John Ommen, of Howard, S.D., formerly of this community have received a telegram from the War Department informing them of the death, in the “battle of the Belgian bulge” of their son, Pfc. Henry Ommen on January 21.

The news of his death came shortly after letters were received from him by relatives dated January 4 and 7, in which he told of a narrow escape from death by shrapnel. He wrote, “A fairly large piece of shrapnel hit my gun, wrecking it, and the same piece or another piece cut through my ammunition belt, tearing it up pretty badly, but I came out of it with a whole skin.”

He had previously written about having a couple of toes pretty badly frostbitten, but later letters indicated that these had healed up without trouble, and that he was back in action again. He was a paratrooper, fighting as an infantryman.

Pfc. Ommen entered the service in March 1943, from LeMars. He was trained at Camp Butner, N.C., and his paratroop training at Fort Benning, Ga. He landed in Italy on Easter Sunday, April 9, and has seen service on various fronts.

Henry Ommen was born in Plymouth County on December 21, 1923, and attended the public schools in LeMars. He was graduated from the high school in 1942. He is survived by his parents, and two sisters, Mrs. Robert Paswalk of Hawarden and Mrs. Gerald Henrich of Akron; three brothers, Erwin, who was in the Navy at Farragut, Idaho, but at present at a California naval station for observation and treatment, and Melvin and Donald, at home. A grandmother, Mrs. Henry Ommen, Sr., lives in LeMars.

Memorial services are bring planned, but no date has been set, in the expectation that Erwin may get a leave or a discharge from the Navy. He has been undergoing treatment for rheumatic fever, which has seriously affected his health.

Source: LeMars Globe-Post, Thursday, February 15, 1945 (photo included)

Letter From Officer States He Came Under Small-Arms Fire During Attack

Mrs. Fred Ommen, now living on R.F.D. 1, Howard, S.D., but until recently a Plymouth County resident, has received a letter from W. W. Sullivan, second lieutenant, infantry, of the 509th parachute infantry battalion, regarding her son’s death in action.

Lieut. Sullivan wrote:
“My dear Mrs. Ommen: It is with deep feeling that I wrote to you concerning your beloved son, Pfc. Henry W. Ommen of Company B, 509th Parachute Infantry Bn., who gave his life for his country.

“Together with his company he was in combat attacking the enemy of January 21, 1945, when he came under small arms fire and was instantly killed. His action played a vital part in the success of the attack.

“Pfc. Ommen was laid to rest in the First Army Cemetery. This beautiful cemetery includes all the American heroes who have given their lives in the First Army area. All the men placed therein have been accorded full military honors, with appropriate religious services. The First Army Presbyterian chaplain conducted the services for Pfc. Ommen. At the conclusion of the services, salutes were fired, followed by the playing of Taps.

“Words are altogether inadequate to express the emotion felt in our hearts, of love and respect for one so likeable, considerate and cheerful. I express to you the sincere sympathies of the many friends made by Pfc. Ommen while serving in his country’s forces.”

Source: LeMars Globe-Post, April 23, 1945

Pvt. Henry Wilbur Ommen is buried in Saint Johns Cemetery, Craig, IA.