The 35th Infantry Regiment Association salutes our fallen brother, SGT Stewart Alvin Turnwall, who died in the service of his country on February 6th, 1945 in Luzon. The cause of death was listed as KIA. At the time of his death Stewart was 26 years of age. He was from Leola, South Dakota.
The decorations earned by SGT Stewart Alvin Turnwall include: the Combat Medical Badge, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Asiatic-Pacific Service Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.
Stewart was attached to Love Company from the 25th Medical Bn.
Stewart Alvin Tunwall was born on October 19, 1918 in Leola, South Dakota, to Carl and Carmel Turnwall. His siblings were Oliver, John, Florence, Mary, and Lloyd. After attending elementary school in Leola and graduating from Leola High School in 1938, Turnwall attended Dakota Wesleyan in Mitchell, South Dakota, and received his two -year teaching certificate. He then taught in a rural country school in McPherson County, taught in Mclntosh, South Dakota, and also did farm work. A fine athlete, he enjoyed all sports and hunting.
On February 26, 1942, Stewart Turnwall was drafted into the army and reported for training at Fort Snelling in St. Paul, Minnesota. Additional training was received in Hawaii before Sergeant Turnwall was sent to Guadalcanal in the South Pacific, and then to the Russell Islands at Luzon in the Philippines. Sergeant Turnwall was engaged in numerous battles serving as a litter bearer for the 25th Infantry Medical Corp (Tropic Lightning) Division.
It was during his division battle in the town of Lupao on Luzon Island, which was 100 miles north of Manila in the Philippines, that Sergeant Turnwall died instantly from Japanese artillery fire on February 6, 1945.
An article in the McPherson County Herald states:
At the beginning of the Lupao battle, Sergeant Turnwall led a litter squad through intense enemy machine gun and small arms fire to the rescue of a wounded soldier, administered first aid, and successfully evacuated him to a place of safety.
Three days later at the crest of the fighting for the town, the advance of our troops was temporarily halted by a fence, along which the Japanese where laying fierce machine gun and 47mm tank fire.
An American doughboy leaped the fence, was wounded and lay in front of enemy positions calling for help. Without hesitation and with utter disregard for personal safety, Sergeant Turnwall volunteered to go to the aid of the wounded man. He safely crossed the fence, was struck and killed by intense enemy fire as he was hurrying to the side of the wounded soldier.
Sergeant Turnwalls Heroic action and coolness under fire was a direct inspiration to the "Tropic Lightning" doughboys who were with him.
His commanding officer, Louis Kreindler, (sp.) Major M.C. Commander, Company "B", in a letter to Sergeant Turnwalls mother relates:
Our company has both a fine soldier and a marvelous friend. All the men in the company send their deepest and sincerest sympathy to you in this time of sorrow.
Words cannot express my sadness and the difficulty in writing this letter. My eyes are wet with tears for I feel I have both one of my finest friends .
These are not unlike the statements of Turnwalls family who says that they did everything together and that he was a great brother. He also wrote a journal which he shared with his family called "Pill-rolling on Guadalcanal". It related his experiences as a medical soldier and litter bearer in a realistic, but humorous manner.
Although the place of Sergeant Turnwall's original burial is unknown, he was reburied at the Green Mound Cemetery in Leola, South Dakota. Sergeant Turnwall was awarded the Silver Star posthumously for gallantly in action.
Stewart A Turnwall is survived by a brother Lloyd Turnwall, of Huron, South Dakota.