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Subject: Norwegian Sailors in American Waters - 186-204
Date: Fri, 16 Aug 2002 08:46:01 -0700


Acknowledgment

The following selection is taken from "Norwegian Sailors in American
Waters" published by the Norwegian-American Historical Association (NAHA)
in 1933. The volume is out of print and not available from NAHA at
http://www.naha.stolaf.edu/ where you will also find the first 33 volumes
of Studies and Records online. This chapter is published with the kind
permission of NAHA. The book this selection is drawn from is under
copyright and permission has been granted for educational purposes and it
is not to be used in any way for any commercial purposes.

[196]
CHAPTER ELEVEN
NORWEGIAN SEAMEN IN THE UNITED STATES
NAVY, MARINE, AND COAST GUARD SERVICE

IN so far as it is possible to judge from the very fragmentary
information obtainable, seamen of Norwegian birth or descent seem to be
about as well represented in the United
States Navy as in the merchant marine. But since the official records
show only the place of birth and not the national origin of the men in
this service, it is impossible to state how many men of Norwegian descent
are serving in the navy. There are indications, however, that seamen of
Norwegian or at least of Scandinavian blood on American war vessels are
numerous, that they have been welcomed by recruiting and naval officers,
and that they have found this well-paid and well-regulated service
attractive. We have seen that at the time of the Revolutionary War two
Norwegian seamen, Thomas Johnson of Mandal, Norway, and Lars Bruun are
known to have served under John Paul Jones in the navy of the American
colonies. We have seen that Thomas Johnson served on the "Bon Homme
Richard," took part in the battle between that vessel and the "Serapis,"
and after the war was pensioned by the United States government. {1}
During the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, and the World War there
were many Norwegians in the navy as well as in the army. But not only in
time of war have they entered the naval forces of the country in
considerable numbers; in peace times also they have been strongly
attracted by this service.
A study of the crews of a few battleships and cruisers shows that there
are many Scandinavians among commissioned and petty officers as well as
among common seamen on the vessels of the American navy. When the
battleship "Maine" was destroyed by an explosion in the harbor of Havana
in 1898, there were forty Scandinavians among the 260 officers and men
who were killed or who died of injuries received in the explosion. {2}
So far as it has been possible to determine which of the petty officers
and members of crews on vessels in the squadron commanded by George Dewey
in the battle of Manila Bay on May 1, 1898, were Norwegians, they are as
follows: {3}

FLAGSHIP "OLYMPIA"

Emil Anderson, seaman
Martin C. Christensen, seaman
Albert Christenson, seaman
John Erickson, seaman
Gustav A. Fagerlund, seaman
Alexander Hansen, coal passer
Albert Hanson, seaman
Albert W. Hanson, seaman
Haakon L. Hanson (Trondheim), seaman
Peter Hanson, seaman
Nels G. C. Isberg, coxswain
George Jørgensen, oiler
Jørgen H. Jørgensen, coxswain
Anders Larsen, seaman
Otto Larsen, coxswain
Peter Larsen, gunner’s mate
Knute S. Lindaur, apprentice, first class
Oscar Nelson, seaman
Erland Olsen, engineer force
Jacob Olsen (Oslo), seaman
Olaf Olsen, coxswain
Andrew Pedersen, coxswain
Ingvald Pedersen (Oslo), petty officer, second class
Reinhold Peterson, oiler
Peter Swenson, gunner’s mate

THE "BOSTON"

B. Bertelsen, petty officer, second class
E. Erickson, ordinary seaman
L. Halling, seaman
H. C. Jensen, ordinary seaman
K. Kristiansen, seaman
N. Nilsen, apprentice
O. Olsen, petty officer, third class
E. Swansen, apprentice

THE "RALEIGH"

A. Hanson, petty officer
M. Hanson, petty officer
J. Larsen, machinist
G. T. Olson, seaman
A. Swanson, petty officer

THE "BALTIMORE"

Paul Evenson, engineer force
J. Oleson, petty officer
O. Oleson, seaman
A. Petersen, seaman
J. Peterson, seaman

THE "CONCORD"

W. Hanson, seaman
O. Larson, seaman
E. H. Oleson, seaman
E. G. Olsen, marine
O. A. Peterson, seaman

THE "McCULLOCH"

G. E. Olsen, fireman
O. J. Olsen, fireman
B. H. Sjøberg, petty officer
O. Swanson, petty officer

Axel Johannesen, who was born in Kongsberg, Norway, in 1875, came to
America in 1893 and became a marine sailor on a ship of the United States
Pacific Squadron in 1895. He served later as a gunner on the protected
cruiser "Baltimore" and was with Dewey’s squadron in the battle of
Manila. He went to China in the Boxer uprising, was later a gold digger
in Alaska, and reentered the United States Navy during the World War,
serving on a torpedo boat in European waters. {4}
Paul Evenson, an uncle of Professor Chellis Evenson of Luther College,
spent twelve years in the navy. He served in the engineers’ department on
the "Baltimore" during the battle of Manila and returned home on the
"Olympia." The following Norwegians served on the battleship "Indiana"
during the Spanish-American War:

Peter Anderson, Tvedestrand
Otto Arnesen, Oslo
Nikolai Bendixen, Stavanger
Jens Berggren, Sandefjord
Peter J. Boyesen, Skien
Bernhard Christensen, Bergen
Carl Dahl, Bergen
Carl Gamborg-Andersen, Oslo
Konrad Haake, Oslo
Carl Halvorsen, Skudesnes
Jacob Halvorsen, Porsgrund
Halfdan B. Hansen, Bergen
Louis Hansen, Oslo
Andreas E. Hermansen, Tromsø
Charles Johnsen, Oslo
Conrad Johnsen, Lillesand
Olaf Lindseth, Vadsø
John E. Morin, Trondheim
Ole B. Mortensen, Bergen

There were also eighteen Swedes, five Danes, and ten Finns on this
battleship. {5}
The only Norwegian who has attained the rank of rear admiral in the
United States Navy is Peter Christian Asserson, who was born in Egersund,
Norway, in 1839, emigrated to America while very young, and after
becoming a civil engineer was employed for some time in the United States
coast survey and lighthouse service. During the Civil War he served as a
volunteer officer in the navy. After the war he was employed by the
government in removing vessels that had been sunk in the various harbors
and were obstructing navigation. In 1874 he was detailed with the rank of
lieutenant to the Norfolk navy yard, where he directed the building of
dry docks and other important naval construction work requiring high
engineering skill. After some years he was promoted captain and later
rear admiral. He married an American; they had seven children, most of
whom have been connected in one way or another with the naval service.
Rear Admiral Peter Christian Asserson died in 1906.

Picture
REAR ADMIRAL PETER CHRISTIAN ASSERSON

William C. Asserson, captain, son of Rear Admiral Peter Christian
Asserson, was born on August 21, 1875, in Portsmouth, Virginia. He
entered the naval academy at Annapolis in 1893 and was graduated in 1897.
In 1899 he was commissioned ensign and in 1901 he served in China in the
Boxer uprising. In 1902 he was commissioned lieutenant, junior grade, and
in 1904 he was promoted lieutenant. From 1907 to 1909 and from 1912 to
1915 he served as instructor in the United States Naval Academy. He was
promoted lieutenant commander in 1910 and commander in 1916. During the
World War he commanded the " Castine," and for some months before the
Armistice he served as chief of staff to the commander of the United
States Patrol Squadron in the Mediterranean Sea, in the vicinity of
Gibraltar. He was given the temporary grade of captain in 1918 and was
commissioned permanently as such in 1920.
Fredrick A. Asserson, son of Rear Admiral Peter Christian Asserson,
served in the medical corps in the United States Navy and was promoted
commander. He is now retired.
Henry Asserson, a third son of Rear Admiral Peter Christian Asserson, is
a civil engineer and father of Raymond Asserson, lieutenant in the United
States Navy (retired).
Rear Admiral Asserson had four daughters, Mary Alice, May, who married
Rear Admiral Fletcher of the United States Navy, Nancy, who married
Colonel W. F. Spicer of the United States Marine Corps, and Agnes. {6}
Andrew J. Iverson, commander in the United States Navy, was born in
Norway. He came to America in his youth and settled in Massachusetts. In
1863 he entered the navy and served for some years as ensign. In 1870 he
was promoted lieutenant and served as commanding officer on the "Wasp."
The following year he was stationed in the Boston navy yard. In 1872 he
was detailed to the torpedo service; in 1882 he was promoted lieutenant
commander and in 1892, commander. He was retired in 1897. {7}
Martin Augustus Anderson, born in Wisconsin, was promoted lieutenant in
1899 and commander in 1905. He retired the same year on his own
application, having served in the navy for more than eighteen years.
Commander Raymond Foss Frellsen, who is of Norwegian descent, was born on
July 17, 1883, in Illinois, from which state he was appointed to the
United States Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1903. After his graduation he
advanced through the various grades of service and was promoted commander
in 1927. He has also completed a postgraduate course in electrical
engineering. {8}
Olaf Mandt Hustvedt, commander in the United States Navy, was born in
Chicago on June 23, 1886, of Reverend Halvor Bjørn Hustvedt and Anne
Marie (Reque) Hustvedt. He entered the naval academy at Annapolis in 1905
and was graduated in 1909. After his graduation he served on various war
vessels until 1912, when he entered upon a special course of study in
ordnance at George Washington University; in 1914 he received the degree
of master of science. The same year he was promoted lieutenant (junior
grade). During the next two years he served on the staff of Rear Admiral
Fechteler; in 1917 he was promoted lieutenant; in 1917—18 he served on
the staff of Rear Admiral T. S. Rodgers and during this time was
temporarily promoted lieutenant commander. During his service as gunnery
officer on the "Oklahoma" in the following year he served in the war zone
with Battleship Division Six, based on Bentry Bay, Ireland, and as
temporary liaison officer with the United States battleship squadron that
formed part of the Grand Fleet in the North Sea. From 1919 to 1922 he
served in the bureau of ordnance in the navy department as chief of the
experimental section, being promoted lieutenant commander in 1921. He
commanded the "Burns" in Hawaiian waters from 1922 to 1924. In 1926 he
was promoted commander. From 1925 to 1927 he was chief of the
experimental section of the bureau of ordnance in the navy department. He
served also as a member of the joint army and navy ordnance technical
committee, and as a member of the committee on explosives investigation
and of the committee on the investigation of Neumann Bands. He has
contributed chapters to the textbook on naval ordnance and gunnery used
in the United States Naval Academy.

LIEUTENANT COMMANDERS

Clarence Gulbranson of River Forest, Illinois, was born on June 28, 1890,
at Chicago, Illinois, of Norwegian parents, Christian Gulbranson and
Barbara (Full) Gulbranson. He was graduated from the naval academy at
Annapolis in 1912; served on various war vessels; landed at Vera Cruz,
Mexico, in 1914, with a battalion from the "Michigan"; served in the
World War as gunnery officer, as chief of staff of the Special Service
Squadron, and as gunnery and executive officer of the battleship "Utah,"
and is at present commanding the destroyer "Hamilton." In 1922 he was
promoted lieutenant commander. He has received the Mexican, the World
War, and the Nicaraguan distinguished service medals.
Ole O. Hagen, who was born on August 9, 1889, in Minnesota, entered the
naval service in 1907 and was commissioned lieutenant commander in 1921.
He retired in 1925 because of disability resulting from an incident of
service. His home is in San Francisco. {9}
Herman Evald Halland, son of John Gerhardt Halland and Lenore (Biel)
Halland, was born December 22, 1894, in Hillsboro, North Dakota. His
father was born in Norway, his mother in Germany. He entered the naval
academy at Annapolis in 1914 and was graduated in 1917. During the World
War he served as executive officer on a destroyer operating in European
waters. After the war he commanded the destroyer "Drayton" until 1919,
when he entered the aviation service. He is now in command of the Second
Observation Squadron and the Tenth Scouting Squadron and has been
promoted lieutenant commander. His home is in Fargo, North Dakota.
Walter Leroy Heiberg of Washington, D. C., was born March 27, 1886, at La
Crosse, Wisconsin. His parents were John Peter Heiberg and Marie Carolina
(Møller Grøn) Heiberg, both natives of Norway. He was graduated from the
United States Naval Academy in 1908 and served in the navy rifle team, as
executive officer on the flagship of the Asiatic Fleet, as commanding
officer of the "Calao," stationed in China in 1912, and in the destroyer
flotilla in the Mexican campaign of 1913—14. During the World War he was
temporarily promoted lieutenant commander. In 1930, when he retired, this
rank was bestowed on him permanently.
Louis Iverson, who was born July 2, 1890, at Reynolds, North Dakota,
enlisted in the medical corps of the navy in 1917, served during the
World War, and was awarded the Navy Cross and a special letter of
commendation for distinguished service. In 1925 he was commissioned
surgeon in the navy with the rank of lieutenant commander. {10} His
brothers are Lieutenant Elmer Victor Iverson and Midshipman Clifton
Iverson, who is now in the naval academy.
Conrad Leiknes Jacobsen of Zanesville, Ohio, was born February 22, 1894,
in Astoria, Oregon, of Norwegian parents. He entered the United States
Naval Academy in 1913 and was graduated in 1917; he followed the regular
line of service in the navy and in 1929 was promoted lieutenant
commander.
Einar Reynolds Johnson was born August 10, 1895, in Illinois. He was
commissioned ensign in 1917, was promoted lieutenant in 1920, and
lieutenant commander some years later. {11}
Ingolf Norman Kiland was born March 26, 1895, in Sioux Falls, South
Dakota. He entered the United States Naval Academy in 1913 and was
graduated in 1917; in 1920 he was promoted lieutenant and in 1927
lieutenant commander. {12}
William John Larson was born November 15, 1891, at Muskegon, Michigan. He
was graduated from the naval academy at Annapolis in 1914; served on the
battleship "Utah" until November, 1915, and as executive officer on
various war vessels from then until 1920; he commanded the "McCauley" in
1921 and the "Tracy" in 1926—27; and he is now in command of the light
cruiser "Trenton." In 1924 he was promoted lieutenant commander. His home
is in Philadelphia.
Harold J. Nelson of San Francisco was born March 28, 1891, at St. Paul,
Minnesota. He was graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1914;
he served on various war vessels after his graduation; in 1918 he was aid
on the staff of Rear Admiral Niblack at Gibraltar headquarters; he served
on the battleships "Tennessee" and "Florida" from 1919 to 1921 and in
1922—23 as instructor at the naval academy. In 1923 he pursued special
studies at the Submarine School, New London, Connecticut; from 1924 to
1926 he commanded the submarine "S-24 "; in 1929 he was commander of
Submarine Division Eight; in 1930 he was aid on the staff of the
commander of the submarine force of the United States fleet; and in 1931
he was aid to the commandant of the twelfth naval district with
headquarters in San Francisco. In 1925 he was promoted lieutenant
commander.

<1> Nordisk Tidende, October 8, 1925.
<2> Nordisk Tidende, May 10, 1917.
<3> The Bounding Billow, vol. 1, no. 7, a paper published at intervals on
the "Olympia "; The Cruise of the "Olympia," published in the interest of
American men-of-war’s men at Nagasaki, Japan, on November 30, 1907.
<4> Nordisk Tidende, April 1, 1926.
<5> Nordisk Tidende, December 4, 1902.
<6> Navy Register of the United States, 1875, p. 78; Register of
Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the Navy of the United States, 1883,
p. 80; 1886, p. 77; 1897, p. 56; Nordisk Tidende, December 27, 1906;
Lieutenant William Christian Asserson and Captain William C. Asserson to
the author.
<7> Navy Register of the United States, 1866, p. 12; 1870, p. 28.
Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the Navy of the United
States, 1897, p. 8.
<8> Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States
Navy and Marine Corps, 1927, p. 26; Navy Directory, 1931.
<9> Navy Directory, 1931, p. 111; Register of Commissioned and Warrant
Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps, 1925, p. 40, 376;
1926, p. 332, 408.
<10> Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States
Navy and Marine Corps, 1927, p. 184, 319.
<11> Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States
Navy and Marine Corps, 1927, p. 64; Navy Directory, 1931, p. 45.
<12> Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States
Navy and Marine Corps, 1927, p. 60; Navy Directory, 1931, p. 48.

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