Date of Interview
Russell Gunvalson was born on 11 July 1923 in Spring Valley, Wisconsin, the sixth of eight children. Following high school Russ worked locally before entering the US Army in July 1943. Following Basic Training Russ was assigned to the 590th Field Artillery, 423rd Regiment, 106th Infantry Division; he spent from March ï¿½ November 1944 with this unit, training at Camp Atterbury, Indiana. The 106th Infantry Division shipped to Europe in November 1944, and took up positions on the Belgian-German border in early December. The German Ardennes Offensive, launched in mid-December, quickly encircled thousands of American forces, including Russ' unit, and on 19 December 1944 Russ was taken as a POW. Along with many other captured Americans, Russ was marched away from the front line area to the German town of Gerolstein, and from there transported by rail to Stalag IX-B at Bad Orb, southeast of Frankfurt/Main; the three-day rail journey ended on Christmas Eve 1944. In late January 1945 Russ was in a group of non-commissioned officers transferred to Stalag IX-A, Ziegenhain, and he remained here until this camp was liberated by advancing US troops on 30 March 1945. Russ was moved to a medical facility in Rouen, France, then in early May 1945 shipped to the United States; he spent the time until his discharge in December 1945 back home in Wisconsin, and recovering at several stateside medical facilities. Again a civilian, Russ returned to Spring Valley and worked different jobs before starting with the Postal Service in 1947; he retired in 1979. Russ was married in 1947 (wife Idelle), and helped to raise two children. In 1985 Russ and Idelle relocated to Rochester, Minnesota, where this interview took place in February 2004.
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Saylor, Thomas, "Oral History Project World War II Years, 1941-1946 - Russ Gunvalson" (2004). Oral History Project: World War II Years, 1941-1946. 26.