Arne A. Engstrom
Biography: Arne Anselm Engstrom was born on February 6, 1916 in Lugerville, Price County, Wisconsin. He was one of nine sons and two daughters born to Gustaf Alfred Engstrom and Signe Matilda Johansson. On May 18, 1917, the family moved to Port Arthur, Ontario, Canada. In May of 1928, the family was residing in Tacoma, Pierce County, Washington. The 1940 U.S. Census shows Arne was working at a lumber mill in the Tacoma area and had completed two years of high school.
Service Time: We don’t exactly when or where Arne entered the Army, but the initial information we have shows him assigned to, and joining, Company D of the 607th Tank Destroyer Battalion on March 14, 1942. The unit was located at Fort Ord, California on that date. Company D became the Reconnaissance Company in August, 1942. He trained with the unit at several locations including; Camp San Luis Obispo, Hunter Liggett Military Reservation and the Desert Training Center, all in California, along with Camp Hood, Texas and Camp Cooke, CA. While they originally trained with M10 self-propelled tank destroyers, the unit was converted to a towed battalion, utilizing the M5 3” anti-tank gun, on December 15, 1943. At that time, the Recon Company was de-activated, and personnel were transferred to other companies with Arne being moved to Company C.
Arriving at Liverpool, England, on April 21, 1944, they continued training. Company C landed at Utah Beach, Normandy, France on June 24th and the 607th supported the advance on Cherbourg, fighting along the Seves River in July. They joined the drive to Le Mans and envelopment of the Falaise Pocket in August, advancing to the Moselle River in September and supporting operations against Metz through late November. Arne was lightly wounded in action on August 17th at Nonant-le-Pin, France. He was promoted to Private First Class on October 6, 1944. The unit converted to a self-propelled battalion equipped with M36 tank destroyers in time for the final assault on Metz. With this change, the Recon Company was re-activated and Arne was transferred back into the company.
Joining the drive toward the Saar River, they supported the capture of Saarlautern, Germany, and the subsequent fight against the Siegfried Line in December. The unit was deployed to the Ardennes sector in January, 1945 and again committed against the Siegfried Line in February in the Schnee Eifel. Supporting the capture of Koblenz, Germany in mid-March, they crossed the Rhine River at Boppard on March 25. The 607th continued to drive east through Hessen and Thüringen during April and reached the Czechoslovak border near Plauen by mid-April. Thereafter, they remained in defensive positions until VE Day.
Arne returned home with the 607th aboard the SS George Washington. He earned the Good Conduct and World War II Victory medals along with the EAME medal and credit for the campaigns of Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe. He left the Army at the rank of Private.
Arne returned to Tacoma and the 1950 U.S. Census indicates he was working as a car salesman and mechanic. On May 5, 1951, Arne married the former Gladys J. Sandberg in Kennewick, Benton County, WA. A 1955 Tacoma City Directory lists him as a mechanic at Pacific Auto Brokers and the 1956 directory shows he’s a member of Teamster Union Local 174, of Seattle, at Strong and McDonald. He also worked as a truck driver.
Arne passed away on October 8, 1970 in Tacoma. He was buried in the Mountain View Memorial Park in Lakewood, Pierce, WA. Thank you to Find-a-Grave contributor Patti for use of the grave marker photo.