Marvin E Walseth


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Thanks to Steve Dennis for the hours of research he has done on Marvin Walseth.

His hard work making it possible to develop this web page.


Article written by Stephen Dennis about Marvin's Alaska flying experiences.

Recently appeared in "Warbirds" magazine. Summer 2009

It is titled "Old Seventy." Hope you enjoy.

pdf file...

Click Here


Marvin Walseth was born on September 9, 1912 in Eagle Bend, Minnesota. He graduated from Eagle Bend High School in 1931, attended South Dakota State College at Brookings for two years, and the changed to the University of Minnesota form which he graduated in June 1937, with a degree of Bachelor of Aeronautical Engineering.

While attending the University he drove for Northland Greyhounds Lines summers and part-time during the school years.

Following his graduation, he received an appointment as an Army Air Corps Cadet and was sent to Randolph Field, Texas. Following advanced training at Kelly Field, Texas, he graduated and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U S Army Air Corps in June, 1938.

His orders then took him to March Field, California and transferred him from the Attack Division of the Air Corps to the 19th Bombardment Group.

In summer of 1939 Marvin applied for and received a permanent commission in the Air Corps. He also applied for service in Alaska, a place he had wanted to visit since childhood. In the spring of 1940 he was sent with Major, now Colonel Gaffney, to Fairbanks, Alaska, to begin the work of establishing Army Air Bases in Alaska. Ladd Field at Fairbanks was begun and completed during his service there, and he came to know Alaska thoroughly as they covered every part of it, deciding on location for other army air bases. He was the first Army officer to land a plane at Point Barrow, northernmost our post of U S territory.

During most of his time at Ladd Field he served as Post Adjutant.

Marvin remained in Fairbanks until May 30 when he reported for duty elsewhere. During this time he received a promotion to 1st Lieutenant, and on February 1 was made Captain. March 1 found him a Major, which was his rank when killed in action in Alaska on July 18th. Identification was made and the body buried on the cliffs of the fog covered Aleutians, on August 15th.

B-17B s/n 38-215 crashed in heavy fog on 18 July 1942, near Cape Udak on the southwest end of Umnak Island, returning from a weather recon mission to Kiska. The plane was piloted by Captain Marvin E. Walseth. S/Sgt Nelson (who was credited with downing the "Val" on 4 June) was a crew member. All crew perished in the crash, and were buried near Nikolski village.


July 24th, 1942; Telegram from Adjutant General, Washington D C to Marvin’s Father

Deeply regret to inform you that your son, Marvin Earnest Walseth, U S Army, has been reported missing in action in Alaskan area since July 18. Further reports will be forwarded as received.


General Information

Marvin Walseth graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering. He was in the ROTC at the U of Minnesota and, prior to that, at South Dakota State University. He was active in a Glider Club. It is not clear when he began to fly as a pilot.

As a 2nd Lieutenant, reserve, he received a Certificate of Proficiency in Celestial and Dead Reckoning from a course at Kelly Field, San Antonio Texas in May of 1939. Later, in June of 1939, he completed an Army Extension Course at March Field, Riverside, California on the "Theory of Bombing."

On Jan 18, 1940 he received his Regular Army commission, effective, August 15th, 1939.


Phyllis Jeannette Feroe

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Phyllis Jeannette Feroe was married to Lieutenant Marvin E Walseth on Friday, the 14th of June, 1940

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Phyllis reports on the wedding in a letter to Idah…..”Ronnie and Sue (we had the reception at their house) and I decorated the church with wild roses and wild iris.  They were beautiful.  I carried sweet peas and red roses!  Just as we got to the door, Major Gaffney (Dale) and Charlie Burnett grabbed Marvin, took off his coat and cap and put overalls on him.  They handcuffed him and cuffed his legs together to a chair on a barge and towed him down Main St Behind a tractor………….I decided not to let Dale and Charlie get the Laff on us to start so I chased after him in the Major’s car (chauffeur and all)  They stopped and I got on too.  People were taking movies of us and it was loads of fun.  The pay off came when some one put a baby on the barge for a picture. But that is Alaska for you and it was really funny.

We proceeded to the reception without more ado and we had a lovely time.   We served Champaign punch, Scotch and soda and various kinds of cake.  Marvin, in accord with custom, cut the first piece of cake with his saber and then we ate it!  We were to have had a cake but at 6 pm the woman called saying it had fallen.  The fellows had more devilment planned but with the aid of Alice and Ronnie we climbed out a window at different times and ran home.  We finally got together at the girls apt. where we stayed that night.  No one suspected it at all and they combed the town for us but we fixed them…..Dale came home about 3 am.  Here they looked all over the town and we were right across the hall from Dale and two blocks from Charlie's.



May 5th 1942, Telegram from Phyllis to Grandpa Walseth

Message: Arrived in excellent condition Tuesday at six pm weight about 7.5 pounds. Mother and I both fine.

Whish you were here, Love Jeri Lynn Walseth

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Walseth Picture Album

Links about Marvin

Fairbanks paper

Warbirds magazine

Life at Ladd Field

Source: Office of History, Elmendorf AFB Heritage/February 12-18.pdf

Remembering Our Heritage Heritage/May 21-27.pdf

Aviation Enthusiast Corner

The Marks Report