Eugene W. Anttila

Army Badge
  • Name: Eugene W. Anttila
  • Location of Birth: Suomi, Minnesota
  • Date of Birth: January 31, 1923
  • Date of Death: Killed in Action - April 18, 1945
  • Parents: Waino and Helena Anttila
  • High School and Class: 9th Grade in a one room school
  • College:
  • Highest Rank: PFC (Private First Class)
  • Branch: Army
  • Other Branch:
  • Date Sworn In: May 1, 1943
  • Place Sworn In: Fort Snelling, St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Date of Discharge: April 18, 1945 (22 years old)
  • Place of Discharge: Killed in Action in Italy
  • Units and Locations:
    Start Date End Date Unit(s) and Location(s) Served
    May, 1943 April 18, 1945
  • Military Awards:
    Purple Heart
    Combat Infantry Badge
    Good Conduct Medal

  • Military Highlights:
    Eugene was a machine gunner serving with Company A, 349th Infantry Regiment, 88th Infantry Division of the United States Army.

    Eugene's last letter home, dated March 11, 1934:
    "Dear Mom and Dad,
    I got a letter from you again to-day and will answer it right away. I am getting along fine and staying in good health. We are in a rest area now taking training. We stayed in a town here for quit (quite) a few days days and went to shows and took life easy, now we are drilling and training again but it isn't too bad. The weather is very nice here and I sure hope it keeps on this way. How is everything going at home. Is spring there yet? I got Bill's family Christmas package a few days ago and it was in very good shape even if it was on the way so long. I didn't have any money to send home this month as we were in town and had a place to spend some but will try to save some again so I will have enough to buy that car when I come home. That's all for now so write again soon. Love your son, Eugene."

    Western Union Telegram from The Adjutant General to Mrs. Lina Anttila:
    "The Secretary of War desires me to express his deep regret that your son PFC Eugene W Anttila died of wounds in Italy April 18 1945 confirming letter follows"

    Letter from Wallace M. Hale, Chaplain (Lt Col) USA, dated April 25, 1945
    "Dear Mrs. Anttila:
    We who have lived with your son and who are in a position to understand the sacrifices he made find it extremely difficult to express in words our appreciation for the part he has had in the accomplishments of our Division and the sorrow occasioned by his death. It was a great loss to us and to our country when he died of wounds 18 April 1945 in one of our field hospitals in Northern Italy. He had been seriously wounded in action the day before while attacking an enemy position in this same part of Italy. An enemy mortar shell landed near him and he received penetrating wounds in his right thigh and abdomen. He was given advantage of every medical facility available but we were unable to save his life.

    We know the sadness and grief caused by Pfc Anttila's death, and we wish to extend to you and his loved ones the sincerest and heartfelt sympathy of his Commanding General and of his comrades-in-arms. Comparatively few people will ever be able to understand just how much he has sacrificed for his country, but we who lived with him realize that he was a hero in the fullest sense of the word and know that in giving his life for his country he made the "supreme sacrifice."

    Your son was buried in a U.S. Military Cemetery in Northern Italy, and an appropriate battlefield service was conducted at his graveside. We tried to conduct it in a manner that was befitting his death and one that would have been pleasing to you if you could have been present.

    Mrs. Anttila, our country can never repay the loss of your son, but he, like the majority of our soldiers, realized that in fighting for the home and the homeland his life was at stake. He will feel that his death is worthwhile if we gain for you the peace and security and freedom he thought you should have. Our heart sorrows at his loss, but I know it's only an inkling of the loss you feel. I know that you will go to God for the comfort and peace and consolation that only He can give. May God bless you and comfort you in your great loss."

    Letter from C. H. Danielson, Major General, U.S. Army dated May 5, 1945:
    "Dear Mrs. Anttila:
    The War Department has informed me that your son, Private First Class Eugene W. Anttila, has given his life in the performance of his duty.

    It is therefore with deep sympathy that I address you on behalf of this Command and extend every possible comfort and assistance.

    You will find a Personal Affairs Officer in your vicinity, who is not only willing but eager to help you. The Personal Affairs Officer located nearest you is Colonel Schenk H. Griffin, U.S. Engineer Office, Duluth, Minnesota. Should you need the service or assistance which Personal Affairs has available please feel most free to use it. If you have any particular problems or questions and do not find it convenient to contact Colonel Griffin, the nearest chapter of the American Red Cross is also available to provide counsel and assistance, or if you like, do not hesitate to address this Service Command, Attn: Personal Affairs Officer.

    I hope that the passing days will bring you comfort and a consoling pride that your son gave up his life to set men free. His name will be an honored one among all who were privileged to know him."

    Eugene Anttila was pictured in the April 16, 1945 edition of Life magazine and visiting the front, Congresswoman Clare Boothe Luce called the Italian campaign the greatest military experiment in history of the welding of fighting men of many countries in the common cause of freedom. On April 17 during the offensive to the Po Valley, 22-year old Eugene Anttila was wounded by a mortar shell on a mountain hill mass called Monteramuce. He died of those wounds the next day, April 18, 1945. The war in Europe ended just 19 days later.

    The total Allied casualties for the Italian campaign were 188,746. German losses were about the same with unknown numbers of civilians and partisan casualties.

    Fifty years later very little remains of the battlefields that were fought on in Italy, but the deeds of those who fought and died for our country on the "Forgotten Front" will never be forgotten.

    Letter from Major General T. B. Larkin, dated 24 September 1946
    Dear Mr. Anttila:
    The War Department is most desirous that you be furnished information regarding the burial location of your son, the late Private First Class Eugene W. Anttila, A.S.N. 37 560 261.

    The records of this office disclose that his remains are interred in the U. S. Military Cemetery, Pietramala, plot M, row 20, grave 1676. You may be assured that the identification and interment have been accomplished with fitting dignity and solemnity.

    This cemetery is located near Mt. Beni, approximately twenty-three miles south of Bologna, Italy, and is under the constant care and supervision of United States military personnel.

    The War Department has now been authorized to comply, at Government expense, with the feasible wishes of the next of kin regarding final interment, here or abroad, of the remains of your loved one. At a later date, this office will, without any action on your part, provide the next of kin with full information and solicit his detailed desires.

    Please accept my sincere sympathy in your great loss."

    Western Union telegram dated November 1, 1948:
    "We have ???? advise remains of the late PFC Eugne (sp) W Antila (sp) are enroute to the united states. Our records indicate you wish remains delivered to Herreid Bros Deer River Minnesota within 48 hours after receip (sp) of message please confirm your original instructions or sumit (sp) new delivery instructions and furnish your correct mailing address by telegram collect to commanding officer chicago quartermaster depot agrd (sp) 1819 west pershing road Chicago Illinois reply is necessary within this period since it will not be possible to comply at government expense with any desired change in delivery instructions received after the expiration of 48 hours while delivery of the remains will be made as soon as practicable after receipt factors beyond our control may delay delivery of remains for several weeks. However as soon as remains are received here and it is possible to schedule them for delivery your funeral director will be notified by telegram of railroad routing and scheduled time remains will arrive at railroad station. Also he will be requested to furnish you this information so that you may complete funeral arrangements. This telegram will be sent at least 3 days prior to actual shipments from this dest distribution center please instruct funeral director to accept remains at railroad station upon arrival. Remains will be accompanied by military escort. If you desire military honors at funeral you should ask any local patriotic or veterans organization to make arrangements your prompt cooperation will greatly assist this office in making final delivery. In reply telegram refer to control number 14264 and full name of deceased.
    R W Bennett LT Col QMC Chief AGR DIV

  • Wars Involved:
    World War II

  • MIA / POW:

  • Civilian Life:
    Explanation of pictures:
    Top picture: Eugene Anttila is in the first row, far right. This was at infantry training in Texas in 1943.
    Middle picture: Eugene with friends in 1945.
    Third picture: Cave in Italy where Eugene was killed based on information from his sergeant. Picture taken by Robert Anttila in 1996.

    Services in memory of Pfc. Eugene Anttila, son of Mr. and Mrs. Waino Anttila of Suomi, who died in northern Italy April 18 of wounds received in action the day before, will be held at 2 p.m., Sunday, June 10, at the Suomi hall.
    The American Legion post of Deer River will conduct military services. Rev. T. B. Shorts will officiate, and part of the services will be conducted in Finnish. A girls choir from Suomi will sing.
    Eugene entered the service May 7, 1943, went overseas (England) in July, 1944, and to Italy in October, 1944.
    According to a letter to the boy's parents from the chaplain of his division, Eugene took part in an attack on an enemy position and was fatally wounded when a mortar shell fell near him. He was buried in a United States military cemetery in northern Italy with appropriate battle services. He wore the Combat Infantryman's badge and the Good Conduct medal.
    Born January 31, 1924, Eugene grew up at Suomi and was employed by the Mesaba Cliffs Mining Company at Taconite, Minnesota before he entered the service in May, 1943. He is survived by a brother, William of Deer River, and by a sister, Wilma of Ely.

    Resolution 2016-27, adopted by the Itasca County Board of Commissioners on April 26, 2016:


    WHEREAS, the community of Suomi has asked the County of Itasca honor the memory of its only community member to be killed in action while in service to his County; and

    WHEREAS, it is the desire of the Itasca County Board of Commissioners to honor the memory of Private First Class Eugene Anttila, who was killed in action on April 18, 1945 while in service to his Country during World War II, by placing memorial signs along County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 48,

    THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Itasca County Board of Commissoners designates CSAH 48 as the:

    "PFC Eugene W. Anttila Memorial By-Way"
    January 31, 1923 - April 18, 1945

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the naming of this highway is considered a dual naming initiative and that it will not impact the addressing along the highway; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Itasca County Board of Commissioners hereby authorizes and directs the Itasca County Transportation Department to design appropriate signs for the highway and that they be erected along the newly designated "PFC Eugene W. Anttila Memorial By-Way",

    APPROVED AND ADOPTED this 26th day of April, 2016 by unanimous vote.

    The resolution was signed by Rusty Eichorn, Commissioner District #4 and County Board Chair, Davin Tinquist, Commissioner District #1, Terry Snyder, Commissioner District #2, Leo Trunt, Commissioner District #3, and Mark Mandich, Commissioner District #5.

    Buried in Pine Ridge Cemetery at Deer River, Minnesota.

  • Tribal Affiliation(s):