Wayne H. Simola
Biography: Wayne Hjalmer Simola was born on February 16, 1915, in Brimson, Minnesota. He was the son of Hjalmer and Edla Simola and attended local schools in Brimson.
In 1942, he married the former Julia Aelmini in Ely, MN.
Service Time: Wayne entered the service, in the fall of 1942, and was assigned to Company A of the 801st Tank Destroyer Battalion. The unit shipped out from the Boston port, aboard the British ship HMS Brittania, on February 28, 1944. They arrived in England on March 11th, equipped with towed guns. After some final preparations, they boarded transports and landed at Utah Beach on June 13th.
They initially participated in the capture of Cherbourg and fought at Mortain in early August, reaching the outskirts of Paris on the 25th. Entering Belgium on September 8th, they moved into Germany on the 12th. The unit then supported operations in the Hürtgen Forest beginning late November. They were on the line in the Ardennes when the German offensive struck on December 16th.
Moving to Aachen, Germany, in February, 1945, they crossed the Roer River on the 25th and quickly reached the Rhine River, south of Düsseldorf. They crossed the Rhine near Wessel on March 29th, supporting the drive to the Ruhr and then turned east to the Elbe River. Transferring south, they supported operations in the Harz Mountains in late April and converted to M18's later that month. The 801st finally crossed the Danube River, reaching the Inn River, outside Hitler’s birthplace, Brunnau, Austria, by VE Day.
The unit started training for service in the China-Burma-India Theater, but they were sent home after the war in the Pacific ended. The 801st received credit for five campaigns including, Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe. They also received the Croix de Guerre from the Belgian Government. Wayne left the service at the rank of Sergeant.
Wayne returned to the U.S. and found work with the St. Louis County Highway Department. He retired from the county in 1977, after 38 years. He also worked as a Fire Warden for both the state and federal governments, a position he held for more than 50 years. Julia passed away in 1964 and Wayne married Rauha Michalson in 1969. Rauha passed away in 1972, and Wayne married again, in 1974, to Esther Niemi.
In his spare time, Wayne was a member of a number of organizations including: Fortitude Lodge 188AFAM in Two Harbors, and was its past Master; Order of the Eastern Star, Chapter 160 in Two Harbors, and was its past Worthy Patron; Scottish Rite of Duluth, He was a 32-degree Mason; Aad Temple Shrine; Range Patrol, where he was a life member and its past President; Ver Saba Shrine Club of Virginia; North Shore Shrine Club of Two Harbors; VFW Post 4454, Two Harbors, also a life member; Brimson Sportsman Club; Loyal Order of the Moose and American Legion 109.
His nephew remembers Wayne as an amazing man that was loved and respected by his family and the community. Wayne passed away on January 2, 2000, and was buried in the Brimson Cemetery.
The photo of Wayne at the sign and holding the Thompson Sub-Machine gun were taken during his training at Fort Hood, Texas. I want to thank Wayne's nephew, Mike Ellingsen, for providing the Fort Hood photos and information about his uncle. I also want to thank Wayne's niece, Brenda McKinney Schnurrer, for the main photo along with the later in life and grave marker images.