14 Names to Remember Project

14 Names to Remember | George Nelson

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: Gig Harbor (for two years)

Branch: U.S. Army

Rank: Private First Class

Died: Sept. 21, 1944 | Age 22

Pfc. George Victor Nelson was born June 21, 1922, in Hillhead, South Dakota, to Kerstin “Jessie” (Hanson) Nelson and Nikolai A. Nelson. In the 1930 U.S. Census, George Nelson had three siblings: Norman, Luella and Gladys Nelson. The family moved from the Midwest to Bremerton in the late 1930s; and then south to Gig Harbor in 1940.

By July 1942, Nelson registered for the draft. He was 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds, with brown hair, blue eyes, and a light complexion. He registered from Anchorage, Alaska, because he and his father, Nikolai Nelson, were working for the Alaska Road Commission at the time.

Nelson enlisted on Aug. 23, 1943 and was assigned to the 39th Infantry Regiment of the Army’s 9th Infantry Division. The 39th was known for its slogan: … Anything, Anywhere, Anytime – Bar Nothing,” which was accompanied by an “AAA-O” insignia on their combat helmets and vehicles.

Nelson was deployed overseas in May 1944 and died about four months later on Sept. 21, 1944. At the time of his death, the 39th Infantry was in Germany, fighting the Battle of Hürtgen Forest — just east of the Belgium border. Nelson was killed by artillery shell fragments to his head and neck and was awarded the Purple Heart posthumously.

Five years later, Nelson’s remains were finally returned home in 1949 and he was buried at Miller-Woodlawn Memorial Park in Bremerton. His obituary also ran that year, in the Kitsap Sun’s April 29, 1949 edition. The article gave the incorrect year Nelson died, saying it was 1943. Records confirm it was actually 1944.

In 2013, a memory was posted to Nelson’s memorial page on the website, Findagrave.com from a commenter identified as the late Herman Hansen. It says: “Hi cousin George, I was 6 years old when you came by our house on your way back to your base. (I) will always remember you took us out for ice cream.”

Status: KIA – Killed in Action