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Opsal, Bernt

Document Type

Oral History

Date of Interview



Bernt Opsal was born on 4 August 1919 in West Orange, New Jersey, to parents of Norwegian heritage. He graduated from Orange High School in 1937, and Upsala College in 1941, then moved in summer 1941 to St. Paul, Minnesota, in order to attend Luther Seminary. Bernt completed his studies in January 1945, was ordained a minister, and entered the US Navy as a chaplain. US Navy Chaplain Corps School, twelve weeks long, was at William and Mary College in Williamsburg, Virginia. Following this training, Bernt was stationed at the Advanced Base Personnel Depot in San Bruno, California. His primary duty was to interview enlisted men seeking emergency leaves or discharges, and judge whether their cases warranted action or not. Bernt remained on this duty until after V-J Day in August 1945, at which time he was transferred to the USS Burleigh (APA-95), a troop transport ship. He made voyages to and from the Philippines through mid-1946, as the ship's chaplain; duties included services, Bible studies, and individual counseling. Bernt spent a brief time at the Brooklyn Navy Yard before being discharged from active duty in September 1946. He remained in the Reserves and was called up during the Korean Conflict (1952-53). Following his World War II duty, Bernt got married (1946, wife Shirley), raised a family, and worked in Minnesota in various capacities in the ministry field. He remained active well into his eighties. At the time of this interview Bernt lived in Richfield, Minnesota. Reverend Opsal passed away in September 2004, aged 85.


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Bernt Opsal - Transcript.pdf (641 kB)
PDF Transcript of Interview with Bernt Opsal