14 Names to Remember Project

14 Names to Remember | Douglas Mortensen

Posted on May 23rd, 2024 By:

14 Names to Remember Project. Layout by Tonya Strickland. Historic graphics attributed.

Gig Harbor Now columnist Tonya Strickland researched and profiled the 14 local men whose names appear on the World War II monument at Kenneth Leo Marvin Memorial Park. Find all 14 profiles here.

Hometown: Seattle; family in Port Orchard

Branch: U.S. Army Air Forces

Rank: 2nd lieutenant; co-pilot.

Died: July 29, 1944 | Age 20

Douglas Warren Mortensen was born May 22, 1924 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Frances (Goulet) Mortensen and George Richard Mortensen.

In the 1940 U.S. Census, he had three siblings: Richard, June and Donald Mortensen. It appears Douglas Mortensen never lived in Kitsap or Pierce counties because his family moved to Port Orchard from Seattle when he was already deployed overseas.

Mortensen graduated with the Highline High School class of 1942 in Burien. For his yearbook, Mortensen selected the Horace Greeley quote “Go West, young man.” The saying illustrates the difference between those who complain about what they’ve been given versus those who work to change an unfavorable situation by making their own path. The full quote is, “Go West, young man, go West and grow up with the country.”

Mortensen registered for the draft on June 30, 1942. He was 5-foot-11 and 160 pounds; with brown hair, gray eyes and a light complexion. The following winter, he joined the U.S. Army Air Forces’ 67th Bomber Squadron’s 44th Bomber Group for combat training and flight school.

Soon, he was in Europe co-piloting a B-24 Consolidated Liberator nicknamed “The Wasp Nest” piloted by 2nd Lt. William Green. On July 29, 1944, its nine-man crew took part in a large-scale mission to bomb a shipyard in Bremen, Germany. A 44th Bomber Group formation traveled east from England to Germany when another bomber slipped out of the formation and descended onto The Wasp Nest, severing its tail with a propeller. As both aircraft went down over the English Channel, four airmen bailed out with parachutes — two of whom were caught in falling debris. A Dutch fishing boat rescued the only survivor, an airman from the other crew. Rescue boats arrived later and recovered the bodies of Mortensen and two others. The others were declared missing in action.

Mortensen was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and buried overseas at the Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial in England.

Status: KIA Killed in Action