Army Badge
  • Name: Neil James LaRock
  • Location of Birth: Moorhead, Minnesota
  • Date of Birth: September 19, 1917
  • Date of Death: December 26, 1991
  • Parents: Albert LaRock & Alvina (Flohrs) LaRock
  • High School and Class: 1936 Greenway High School, Coleraine, Minnesota
  • College:
  • Highest Rank: TEC 5 (Technical 5)
  • Branch: Army
  • Other Branch:
  • Date Sworn In: May 4, 1942
  • Place Sworn In:
  • Date of Discharge: January 3, 1946
  • Place of Discharge:
  • Military Awards:
    Purple Heart

  • Military Highlights:
    WW II Draft Registration Cards – 10/16/1940 – 03/31/1947
    State: Minnesota
    Name: Neil James LaRock
    Race: White
    Age: 23
    Birth Date: September 19, 1917
    Birth Place: Moorhead, Minnesota, USA
    Residence Place: Bovey, Itasca, Minnesota, USA
    Registration Date: October 16, 1940
    Employer: Unemployed
    Weight: 168
    Height: 5-10
    Complexion: Light
    Eye Color: Blue
    Hair Color: Brown
    Next of Kin: Bert LaRock, father, Bovey, Itasca, Minnesota

    Newspaper article: Bovey Press, Bovey, Minnesota - May 22, 1942 – “Dear Ladies: We have finally been located and we are now at Fort Lewis, Wash., with the 133rd Engineers Regiment. Melvin Borth and I are here. Melvin is in Company A and I’m in Company B. The diaries are fine and many of the boys are envious of those who have them. We all are keeping daily records in them, along with other information we wish to remember. I wish to thank you for the diary and the backing you are giving the boys from Bovey. Sincerely yours, Neil J. LaRock”

    Newspaper article: Bovey Press, Bovey, Minnesota - September 25, 1942 - "Hello Friends: Received your cards and they were all very fine. I haven't much time to write now, but in a week or so I'll write and tell you about our outfit. Everything is fine here. I may be able to be home in a month or so. Keep up the good work. Yours truly, Neil LaRock."

    Newspaper article: Bovey Press, Bovey, Minnesota – October 16, 1942 – “Dear Folks, I got your card while we were still at Fort Lewis, but we moved out here on a short notice, so this has been the first chance I’ve had to write. So far they’ve kept us pretty busy out here, mostly interior guard duty. I’ve been driving and working in the repair shop here, so that’s the only extra duty I get now. We’re only going to be here for a short while and then we go to Florida for the winter months and some more training. This new outfit we formed is on the idea of the British Commandos. We have the same type of boats – but our main job is setting up beachheads and transporting the infantry and give them protection while they’re landing. We’re starting our 3rd 8-weeks training now. Sometimes we wonder if we’ll ever get through training. We’re only 230 miles from New York City and 60 miles from Boston. We plan on going there next week if we can get away. The weather is just about like Minnesota now – thank God there’s no rain – for Washington was a little damp. They called it a heavy fog, but it was just rain to me. Our furloughs are under discussion now and I may be able to be home soon – I hope. Give my regards to the gang. As ever, Neil LaRock”

    Newspaper article: Bovey Press, Bovey, Minnesota – November 6, 1942 – “Dear Horace: Well, we finally got down here, but it’s a setback to the boys for this is a new camp and it isn’t finished yet. The country and climate is nice, but there’s quite a few insects here, along with “rattlers”. This camp is on the Gulf of Mexico and we spend most of our spare time fishing – the waters here have a good variety of fish, and we have plenty of bait and tackle, only the tackle is not quite right for deep sea fishing. This amphibian outfit is only about 3 months old, a very few people know of it. First of all, we’re trained combat engineers that came to form this outfit. In this EAR we use Commando tactics and equipment, only they call us amphibians. This camp is the training headquarters for the amphibian engineers and when they are fully trained here they are ready for actual combat duty. We do our work mostly at night and no lights. The men work by their sixth sense, for driving, handling ammunition and supplies they must know how they are to be placed, landed and the drivers seem to feel their way along. On the beaches we use different colored flags to direct the crews as to where different supplies are to be placed. This work is far harder than the combat engineers do, so far it has worked out all right in battle for the British use it and they have had some good results. Well, Horace, I haven’t explained how this new outfit works very well, but maybe a little later I can do a better job of it. I thought I’d be home on a furlough by now, but it begins to look somewhat hopeless again, so none of us know when we can get home. The knife was fine and thanks a lot. It’s a good practical gift. Lights out coming up so I’ll have to quit for this time. Give the fellows my best regards. Your friend, Neil LaRock.”

    Newspaper article: Bovey Press, Bovey, Minnesota – January 22, 1943 – “January 13, 1943. Dear Horace: Sorry for not writing sooner, but they’ve been keeping us a little bit busy out here. Most of the time the company works 7 days a week and no time and a half for overtime. We’ve been doing some combat training and also taking up some new amphibian work. I also wish to thank the Service Men’s Club, the Girls Scouts, and everyone else for remembering the boys in service at Christmas. We got the packages after they caught up to us. Horace, you should bring some of the Sportsman’s Club out here. The quail are really plentiful. The way they get up looks like it would really be a sport to hunt them. I was up to the dentist today and personally, I’ll take Doc Christenson for any dentist. Thank God that they don’t have to do any more work on my teeth. From the letters back home, and then seeing this country and weather, it’s hard to believe that we’re in the month of January. It seems more like September and October to me out here. We are right on the Pacific out here, and it’s really nice, only we have the fog. When the “Calif. dew” comes in, an over coat feels good. Just about time for lites out. Give my regards to the boys. Here’s a clipping from a west coast paper telling a little about our outfit. I’ll try to write more next time. Your friend, Neil LaRock.”

    Newspaper article: Bovey Press, Bovey, Minnesota – April 2, 1943 – “Somewhere in the Pacific, March 15, 1943. Dear Horace: It’s been quite a while since we’ve been able to write. We’ve done some moving again and it took us some time to find and get used to our new home. Quite some home – a tent in a jungle- but it’s funny, it seems like we’ve been here a long time. We have a few snakes, insects and “whatnots” to keep us company. We had a smooth trip over here, and very few got seasick. We had a real time when we’re initiated into the “Ancient Order of the Deep” by King Neptune and his aides. We only hope our trip home will be good. We had a good look at Wellington, New Zealand. It’s a place that is very friendly and scenic in many ways. The Aussies are regular fellows. We had quite a few of them with us and we exchanged tales and facts about both countries during our “breaks” or what they call “Smokes”. Everything is under strict rationing over here, and many things cannot be bought at all. The U.S. should and would not complain if they were to be here and see how things are. One example is their malted milks. All it consists of is malted milk, flavor, and milk. Gasoline is petrol. They receive 2 gallons per month. Most of the people are riding bicycles or horses. Soldiers received many things that are rationed to the civilians, but then it is again rationed to us. I’ve received one Bovey paper. I see where H. Mandy is out of circulation. Tell Harold to leave the native girls alone. Roger Enstrom is in some tough country, but we’ll all be able to be back for a good “bull session” of the Sportman’s Club in the near future. We have some fine sports over here – boar and alligator hunting – and our civilian neighbors will take us out, if we have time, and to date we haven’t. I hope to try my luck at it. Well, Horace, I’m writing by candlelight and it’s beginning to be a job to keep it lit. I hope that all the people back home will consider this a letter to them from me at the present, as time does not permit me to write to all. Here is a little article of the company. Much has been censored, but we’re still trying to keep up with our good name. Everything is fine here, and here’s hoping we’ll all be together soon. Your friend, Neil LaRock.”

    Newspaper article: Bovey Press, Bovey, Minnesota – June 29, 1945 – “With the 2nd Engineer Special Brigade in the Philippine Island. Pvt. First Class Neil LaRock, son of Mr. and Mrs. Bert LaRock is serving his twenty-ninth month of overseas duty with the veteran 2nd Engineer Special Brigade. LaRock is a graduate of the Greenway High School of 1936, has participated in campaigns both in New Guinea and the Philippine Islands and is a veteran of major amphibious operations. At the present time he is on duty as a crane operator with his engineer unit in the Philippines. For wounds received in action against the enemy at Leyte, he was decorated with the Purple Heart Medal. LaRock entered the service in May 1942 and received his basic training at Fort Lewis, Washington.”

    Newspaper article: (undated) “The Second Engineer Brigade, of which Neil LaRock of Bovey is a member, has set an enviable record in this world-wide conflict. Their commanding officers said on June 20th, Organization Day of the unit: “Officers and Men: In a war a boy quickly becomes a man. So does a unit. In the past three years you have changed from a group of rookies in the new field of amphibious warfare to a well-knit team of veterans, determined to do well any job assigned to you. You have landed your passengers on enemy shores with never a thought of turning back. You have then worked unending hours to keep them supplied with food and ammunition. Eighty-two times you or some of your comrades have headed for the unknown dangers of an enemy-held shore since that first stormy landing in Nassau Bay in June 1943. Those of you who have manned our anti-aircraft guns have stuck to your guns to outfight the Japs. Now many of you, your jobs done, will soon be headed back to your homes. With you goes our thanks and appreciation for your wonderful work. Those remaining must instill your new comrades with that spirit of never turning back from a job once started until it has been successfully completed. We still have hard jobs ahead of us in the final campaign of the war. Let us all keep our powder dry, our equipment ready, our hearts firm to hasten that long-awaited final day of Victory.” The Second Engineer Special Brigade has been in the following engagements: In New Guinea – Salamaua, Lae, Finschhafen, Saidor, Hollandia, Sarmi-Wakde, and Schouten Islands. Bismarck Archipelago – Arawe, Cape Gloucester, and the Admiralty Islands. Philippine Islands – Leyte, Samar, Panoan, Palawan, Mindoro and Luzon. Bovey can well be proud of its contributions to the armed forces. We believe our men and women of this area are tops, and their records stand as proof of this belief.”

  • Wars Involved:
    World War II

  • MIA / POW:

  • Civilian Life:
    Neil LaRock married S. Emma Steinlicht in Minnesota in 1946. He had worked as a mechanic, bus driver, and custodian for School District 316 in Coleraine, Minnesota for 30 years. He was a member of Bovey Veterans of Foreign Wars and Bovey American Legion, and the Grand Rapids DAV Chapter #13.

    Neil died in Coleraine, Minnesota and is buried in Lakeview Cemegtery, Coleraine, Minnesota (Block 1). He is survived by his wife, Emma; a son, Lee; two daughters, Darcie (Norman) Pembertson, and Lynn (Joseph M.) Johnson; and six grandchildren.

  • Tribal Affiliation(s):