Howard Toivo Wirta

Marine Corp Badge
  • Name: Howard Toivo Wirta
  • Location of Birth: Bovey, Minnesota
  • Date of Birth: June 2, 1918
  • Date of Death: December 14, 2012
  • Parents: Frank Wirta and Edla (Pelto) Wirta
  • High School and Class: 1936 - Greenway High School, Coleraine, Minnesota
  • College:
  • Highest Rank:
  • Branch: Marine Corp
  • Other Branch:
  • Date Sworn In: July, 1940
  • Place Sworn In:
  • Date of Discharge: July, 1946
  • Place of Discharge:
  • Units and Locations:
    Start Date End Date Unit(s) and Location(s) Served
    July, 1940 July, 1946
  • Military Awards:

  • Military Highlights:
    Following graduation from high school, Hoard enlisted in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) at age 18 and worked in the Olympic Peninsula for six months. He joined the United States Marines and served from July, 1940 to July,1946, where he witnessed the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima.

    Newspaper article: Bovey Press, Bovey, Minnesota - January 1, 1943 -
    "Dear Friends: Many thanks for the gift box and the letters which I enjoyed very much. Mr. Wagner, you would make as good, or better, a news commentator as any, if I may say so. I do miss the snow you speak of, also deer hunting, but the worthless game we will be hunting in the near future will have to suffice until I get back to the north woods again. I can't say much about our activities since we arrived from North Carolina, except that we have been busy training a new outfit. Furloughs are as scarce as hen's teeth in the Marines, so I don't expect to see Minnesota until the order "cease firing" is given. I have been unable to find Geo. Paul and George Bibich, although they are supposed to be here in Camp Elliot. Can you publish their address so I will know what outfit they are in? Thank you. Sincerely, Sgt. Howard T. Wirta.
    P.S. I wish all my friends in Bovey a very happy and prosperous New Year.
    The Press will drop you a line with the addresses of George Paul, George Bibich, Erling Olson, Mike Bibich and Elsworth Specht, all stationed at Camp Elliot, San Diego."

    Newspaper article: Bovey Press, Bovey, Minnesota - March 17, 1944 -
    "Dear Friends: Thanks a million for the nice Christmas parcel you folks sent me. Airmail stationery is hard to get down here now, and some time ago anything from mimeograph paper on down to paper out of ration boxes served as stationery. Among our parcels I noticed one addressed to Erling Olson, missent to this company. I am trying to locate him as I think he is in this area. It would be swell to talk with someone from my home town, as I haven't run into anyone since we left the States about a year ago. I still receive the Press and enjoy reading it, especially Ann's letters. She deserves a lot of credit for the effort, and I hope I may thank her personally sometime in the future. Keep up the good work at home, and we'll take care of the job at hand down here. Sincerely yours, Sgt. Howard T. Wirta"

    News article: Bovey Press, Bovey, Minnesota - April 14, 1944 - S.W. Pacific, March 26, 1944 -
    "Dear Friends: Yesterday I had the pleasure of receiving your letter of Jan. 15, and believe me, mail from home is the best morale builder-upper yet. Of course, we have the usual pin-ups which are nice to look at, but what good does it do one to see them on paper. After over a year out here the natives begin to look write. I read about Hollywood entertainers overseas, but have yet to see any. Don't get me wrong, I'm not growling because we have no luxuries; we don't expect them. Of course, we are all looking forward to our eventual return to the States. Thank you, Mrs. Nels Larson for your nice letter. I would like to have Bud's address as I lost contact with him several months ago. As you inquired, I have a birthday, my 26th, on June 2nd. Greetings to all you old buddies. Sincerely, Sgt. H. Wirta"

    1944 - Sgt. Howard Wirta, son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Wirta Sr. of Trout Lake, has enlisted for another two years in the US Marines. Sgt. Wirta recently completed four years enlistment service in the Marines.

    Newspaper article: Bovey Press, Bovey, Minnesota - January 12, 1945 - Western Pacific - December 18, 1944 -
    "Dear Friends, It is a lovely afternoon - if you like the tropics. We are having a nice breeze right now, which helps suppress the heat to a certain extent. I should be getting used to it after almost two years, but I'm still a Northern Minnesotan at heart. I want to take this opportunity to thank Mrs. Nels Larson for her pleasant and interesting letter. Her mentioning the southward bound flock of geese brought back to mind the late autumns at home when the familiar honking always thrilled me and brought predictions of cold weather and snow. This Christmas will find me again basking languidly beneath a towering palm - oh yeah! I have strong hopes of seeing a White Christmas in '45. Keep up the good work, Ann; I enjoy your letters immensely. Merry Christmas everyone! S/Sgt. Howard T. Wirta"

    May 1945 - On Thursday evening S/Sgt. Howard Wirta called home from California to say he had arrived safely in the States and will soon be home on a 30-day furlough, after which he will be stationed in this country for a time. He enlisted in the Marines in July 1940 and will have completed five years of service this summer. Thirty-three months of that service has been overseas, eight months in Iceland and the rest of the time in the Pacific. He fought with the Third Marines at Bougainville, Empress Augusta Bay, at Guam and on Iwo Jima, to mention some of the battles in which he has taken part.

  • Wars Involved:
    World War II

  • MIA / POW:

  • Civilian Life:
    Howard Wirta of Sultan, Washington, formerly of Kennewick, died of complications from diabetes.

    He was born in Minnesota and grew up in Bovey, Minnesota.

    Howard married Rauha (Roye) Ainasoja on June 5, 1945. She died in 2007.

    Howard was a long-time member of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Kennewick, Washington where he sang in the choir for 50 years.

    He was the Chief Engineer at Kadlec Hospital in Richland, Washington from 1956 until his retirement in 1979.

    Roye and Howard traveled the United States in their Air Stream trailer, taking each of their five grandchildren on personal trips. In 1972, they made their first trip to Finland to find relatives, literally looking in the phone book for family names and "cold calling". They found many and formed close bonds with dozens of family members as they traveled to Finland over the next twenty-five years.

    Howard is survived by his sister, Lyla LaDoux; a son, Alan Gene (Donna); a daughter, Stephanie Lee Riess (Paul); five granddaughters, and eight great-grandchildren. A son, Martin, died in 2011.

  • Tribal Affiliation(s):