Ardean Truman Aakhus

Army Badge
  • Name: Ardean Truman Aakhus
  • Location of Birth: Grand Rapids, Minnesota
  • Date of Birth: March 7, 1926
  • Date of Death: April 9, 2018 (92 years old)
  • Parents: Olaf T. Aakhus and Amy Ruth (Koepp) Aakhus
  • High School and Class:
  • College:
  • Highest Rank: TEC 5 (Technical 5)
  • Branch: Army
  • Other Branch:
  • Date Sworn In: September 15, 1944
  • Place Sworn In: Fort Snelling, Minnesota
  • Date of Discharge: August 4, 1946
  • Place of Discharge: Fort Sheridan, Illinois
  • Military Awards:
    World War II Victory Medal
    Asiatic-Pacific Theater Medal with one Bronze Battle Star
    Philippine Liberation Medal with one Bronze Battle Star
    Overseas Service Bars (2)
    Army of Occupation Medal - Japan
    Good Conduct Medal
    Qualified as MM with Rifle M-1

  • Military Highlights:
    Ardean traveled to Fort Sill, Oklahoma and trained with the field artillery and with mule-pack trains. He was sent to Ford Ord, California and then to San Francisco, California. He boarded the USS Eberle and traveled to New Guinea, then to Leyte, the Philippines

    He was assigned to the 146th Field Artillery. His unit was sent to a replacement camp for the 146th Field Artillery Battalion, 41st Division. He drove military vehicles delivering supplies.

    After the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan, Ardean's unit was sent to Hiroshima, Osaka, and Kobe to be part of the Army of Occupation for the better part of a year. While in Hiroshima, he visited the site of the bombing. He noted that it looked like the whole city had been bulldozed down. Among other assignments, Ardean drove an ambulance with patients from Osaka to Kobe. He was discharged at Fort Sheridan, Illinois, on August 4, 1946. He shipped out from Okinawa to Seattle, Washington following his tour of duty.

    A typhoon hit the United States 6th Fleet when he was in Okinawa. Several ships were lost of damaged. Ardean visited the site of the bombing at Hiroshima and it looked like the whole city had been bulldozed down.

    Through letters from their mothers, Ardean was able to meet up with his cousin, Ralph "Bud" Aakhus while they were in Japan. Bud was in the Navy on a ship offshore. They have been friends all of their lives and it was good to see him. Ardean and Bud went on the Honor Flight together in October 2011.

    "It was an honor to serve the United States in the Army and a humbling experience to participate in the Honor Flight."

  • Wars Involved:
    World War II

  • MIA / POW:

  • Civilian Life:
    Ardean spent his youth hunting, trapping and farming along the Bigfork River.

    Following the service he logged in western Montana where he met his bride, Betty (Baeth) Aakhus of Libby, Montana. They would have 67 years together.

    Ardean and Betty returned to Effie, Minnesota where they had four daughters. He loved to travel and would take his family on spontaneous road trips. In addition, he and Betty visited all 50 states, Norway and Germany. They raised turkeys, beef cattle and he drove school bus for thirty-five years and he logged and cleared the land.

    Ardean was a life-long member of Effie Fredheim Lutheran Church and served as its president many times. He was also a 72 year member of the Waldron-Flaat American Legion Post 182 in Effie, Minnesota.

    Along with friends and neighbors, he helped establish the Northern Cattlemen's Association. His motto for life was 'God, Family and Country'. We'll miss his warm hugs, his laugh and stories and most of all, his beautiful encompassing smile. He was kind and gentle to his animals and was always ready to lend a hand to a neighbor in need. The greatest loves of his life were Betty, his four daughters, and all of the 'grands'.

    Ardean was preceded in death by his parents, Olaf and Ruth Aakhus, his only brother, William Bryce Aakhus and son-in-law, Fenn George.

    He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Betty, his daughters, Linda George (Willie Martin), Sandy (Neil) Allen, Karen Scanlon (Bob Hill), and Ardette (Dean) Fritsche; eight grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

    Ardean served in the Pacific during World War II, though he was in the Army. Though he had every intention of signing up to serve in the military, he ended up being drafted at the age of 18 in 1944 before he could voluntarily enroll.

    "I was in the 41st Division. That was a Division out of Washington and Oregon. Don't know how come I got into that one," said Ardean, "Well, it wasn't my choice."

    Ardean made it to his station in the Philippines in 1945, just near the end of the war. At that time, the majority of the fighting was taking place in Okinawa, and afterwards he continued on into Japan. One stop while in Japan was Hiroshima, after the detonation of the atomic bomb.

    "It was just leveled right out. Everybody in that city was killed. It was pretty devastating," said Ardean. "Of course, all those experiences now are just like a nightmare, I guess."

    Article from Grand Rapids Herald Review dated October 2, 2011:
    "Four local WWII vets to visit memorial this week.

    On October 4, 2011, the second flight from Honor Flight Northland will take off from Duluth to Washington, D.C. bringing World War II veterans to see their war memorial in the nation's capital. The premier flight was on May 14, 2011, which brought 104 WWII veterans from 18 different counties in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin. Because of the unfortunately high cost of each flight (nearly $ 90,000), which is paid for entirely by donations, Honor Flight Northland plans on having only two flights per year.

    For the fall flight, there will be four WWII veterans from Itasca County making the long day journey to D.C.; Harley Kiger and Bill Martineau from Grand Rapids, Minnesota and Ardean and Ralph "Bud" Aakhus from Effie, Minnesota. Tuesday will be the first time that each of these men will see the World War II Memorial.

    Whereas they find themselves in the same situation, right now, each of their contributions to the war effort during the early 1940s was quite different. Each has a different personal perspective of the war most of us only know from books, movies, and documentation on the History Channel. And each has their own personal contribution, whether directly or indirectly, to this history.

    All four men feel very honored to be chosen for the Honor Flight to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. Though it will be a long day, waking early and coming home late, they each feel a bit of excitement about joining their fellow veterans to visit the memorial that was erected to honor them as well as their friends who were unable to come home following the war.

    Buried in Fredheim Norwegian Church Cemetery at Effie, Minnesota.

  • Tribal Affiliation(s):