Wahl, Palmer M. (773rd)

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Biography:  Palmer Mikkal Wahl was born on February 22, 1921, in Canton, South Dakota. He was the son of Iver Mikkalsen Wahl and Ellen Marie Anderson and graduated from local schools after completing high school.

His enlistment record indicates that he was working as a cook prior to the war and was living in Lyon County, Iowa.

Service Time:  Palmer entered the service on June 18, 1942, at Fort Crook, Nebraska. After his basic training, he was eventually assigned to the Headquarters Company of the 773rd Tank Destroyer Battalion. It is believed that he may have joined the unit during their desert training and maneuvers in September and October of 1942. A toughened 773rd then departed for Camp Hood, Texas, and remained there from December 1942 to April of 1943.

The unit then moved to Camp Atterbury, Indiana and were later ordered to Tennessee, in June, for their fourth large scale Army Maneuvers, this time with the Second Army. The unit returned to Camp Atterbury, and on January 15, 1944, they moved to New York for final preparations at Camp Shanks, New York where they boarded the British liner Acquitania for their trip across the Atlantic.

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The 773rd arrived at Gourock, Scotland, on February 7, 1944, and were chosen to assist with the D-Day preparations and help prepare the early waves of troops. They themselves would board transports and land at both the Utah and Omaha beaches on August 8th equipped with M10 tank destroyers. The unit caught up with allied spearheads and saw their first real action at Le Bourg St. Leonard, beginning on August 17th during envelopment of Falaise Pocket. They advanced to the Moselle River sector via Paris and fought at Luneville and the Foret de Parroy.

Palmer M. Wahl 4Supporting the capture of Metz in November they joined operations against the Siegfried Line along the Saar in December and were ordered to the Ardennes on January 6, 1945. Fighting through the Siegfried Line in February, they reached the Rhine at Koblenz on March 16th and crossed the Rhine on March 23rd and 24th, at Oppenheim. Beginning on April 1st, the 773rd helped capture Darmstadt and Frankfurt before driving across Germany to Czechoslovakia where they cleared the Czechoslovak-German border area southward, ending the war near Petrovice.

The 773rd received credit for campaigns in Northern France, Rhineland, the Ardennes and Central Europe. Palmer received the EAME Ribbon, the Good Conduct ribbon and shared in the Distinguished Unit Citation received by the unit for their actions in August 1944. He was discharged on October 29, 1945, at Fort Leavenworth, and left the service at the rank of Technician 5th Grade.

We have only limited information about Palmer’s life after the war. We do know that on April 25, 1946, he married the former Gladys Irene Kloppen, from South Dakota and daughter of Severt Knudsen Kloppen and Petra Alletta Stangeland, in Omaha, Nebraska. The 1948 Census indicates he was working as a Claims Agent for the Union Pacific Railroad in Salina, Kansas. In 1950, he is doing the same thing but in Omaha, NE. By 1960, he is listed on the Los Angeles County voter rolls. By then, he was the District Claims Manager for the railroad. Eventually, he and Gladys are listed as living in West Covina, CA. Palmer passed away on April 22, 1997, and was buried in the Oakdale Memorial Park in Glendora, California. Thank you to Find A Grave contributor Bob for the use of the grave marker photo.

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