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100-year-old OSS Vet honored by Norway

Discussion in 'WWII Today' started by TD-Tommy776, Dec 10, 2019.

  1. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    As a young soldier behind enemy lines in World War II, Wilton Rasmusson kept a cyanide pill in his pocket in case he was caught by Nazis. The 100-year-old Fridley veteran recalled stories from his daring service Sunday when the ambassador of Norway paid him a special visit to award him two medals of honor — a recognition Rasmusson never expected.

    When he was drafted in 1942, a military official came to him with a request that would define the course of his life: “Do you want to volunteer for a dangerous overseas mission?”

    “I said, ‘yeah,’ ” Rasmusson said in a thick Norwegian accent.

    He was part of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), predecessor to the CIA, in a Norwegian operational unit known at NORSO II. Rasmusson’s fluency in the language was an obvious benefit for the mission that would take him from his hometown of Sunburg, Minn., for 3½ years to England, Scotland and Norway. As a demolition expert, Rasmusson and his OSS colleagues would blow up bridges and roads to impede the Germans’ pursuit of obtaining heavy water, a crucial ingredient to their hopes for a Nazi atomic bomb. “If Hilter would’ve got it, we’d probably be talking German right now,” he said.

    Rasmusson — who in his covert activities went by the alias of Rasmus Torgerson in honor of his grandfathers — was in England just before D-Day when he hopped on his bike to attend a dance. He admittedly spent plenty of time in pubs playing polka music on the piano. But a collision with another bicyclist meant the then-25-year-old would miss the first wave of D-Day because he was in a coma for the next 10 days.

    “I never did make it to that dance,” he said. “Instead of going to France, I went to the hospital.” His only granddaughter, Amber Rasmusson, of New Brighton, thinks that crash could’ve very well saved his life. After his recovery, he was assigned to fight the Nazis undercover in Norway. Of the 35 men serving in NORSO II, he said nine were killed in two different plane crashes. Twenty-six made it home.

    To celebrate the end of the war, he recalls cognac and champagne being parachuted down to his troops. In total, he made 13 jumps out of planes before the war ended. A code of silence meant he couldn’t correspond with his family all those years, and even when his service ended, he didn’t divulge many details.


    Read the rest of the article here: Norwegian Ambassador Honors 100-year-old vet in Fridley

    A TV news story can be viewed here: Norway Honors Minnesota WWII Veteran Wilton Rasmusson, 100
     
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