As I was reading through Let’s Go by Wayne Pierce, which is a book about the history of the 325th Glider Infantry during WWII, a name I recognized appeared: Lt. Clarence Knutson. I ‘ve written stories about Knutson and his brother, Marine Private Charles Knutson, who both were killed in action. My only sources for these stories were old newspaper articles. Pierce furnished me with contact information for Karen (Knutson) Cini, who is Clarence’s daughter. Karen and I have corresponded since my initial contact in 2004. I would like to thank her for sharing about her father.

Tragic events at widely separated parts of the world climaxed in Marengo during March, 1945, when the Knutsons received two telegrams announcing the death of two of their four sons. Two of Marengo’s young men died on opposite sides of the globe against two separate foes.

Lieutenant Clarence Knutson who was reported missing on January 7, 1945, was killed in action that day in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge. In this battle, Hitler attempted a final offensive strike that lasted over a month. Knutson’s company was attacked during heavy snow and frigid temperatures.

Clarence served for five years and had been overseas for eighteen months. He participated in the Normandy invasion on D-Day and was a supply officer. He also participated in “Operation Market Garden” in Holland. This was a tactical mission to secure several bridges in German- occupied Netherlands.

Clarence was born in Harvard in 1921 and received his education in the Poplar Grove school system to graduate in 1938. Active in sports, he played basketball for the school. Two years after enlisting in 1939, he married Joyce Draper. A year later, the couple had their daughter, Karen Sue.

Private Charles Knutson served with the Fifth Marine Division and was killed in action during the Battle of Iwo Jima. The United States sought to capture Japanese airfields in the battle. Charles lost his life on February 27, 1945, on that bloody island. He was only 20 years old.

He joined the Marines in July, 1941 and was sent to Pearl Harbor after his training. He survived the attack on Pearl Harbor. One year later, he received paratrooper training and made fifteen jumps. Charles rejoined the Fifth Marines and remained in their service until his death.

Charles was born in LaSalle County on May 8, 1924. He came to Marengo with his parents when they moved from Poplar Grove in 1930.


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