We Remember: World War II
by John Teisberg, Becketwood Member
Morten Franze Teisberg: September 26, 1925 – February 17, 1945
In December of 1942 our farmhouse burned down. Morten graduated from Ashby High School in 1943 and decided he should stick around for a year while a new house was being built and to help with the farm tasks. In June of 1944 he volunteered for the draft and was inducted into the Army. He was home on furlough in late October and early November before being shipped overseas. He went to Fergus Falls one day to have his picture taken. The photographer, Hugo Stotz, told Morten to stop in when he came back. Morten replied, “I won’t be coming back.” This declaration was related to our mother when Morten didn’t come back.
Morten’s unit was part of the invasion of Corregidor, an island guarding Manila Harbor. He was killed on February 17th. I can’t vouch for these exact numbers but I have heard that the Air Force pounded the island for three weeks before the invasion. There were about 3,000 Japanese on the island at that time and about 15 Japanese were left at the end of the battle. U.S. casualties were fairly light – about 125 deaths.
By chance, Rudy Haukebo, who had worked some as a hired man for our dad and was a family friend, was stationed about a mile from where Morten was killed and found out about Morten. He expressed his condolences in a letter to our sister Marge who shared the sad news with sisters Louise and Betty. The girls kept the news to themselves. In mid-April, Ed Lundhagen, the depot agent in Ashby, MN, called mid- afternoon and asked when our dad would be in for coffee. He came to the farm about 3 o’clock and delivered the telegram from the War Department to our folks. Morten’s funeral service was held on April 29, 1945.
During the two months between when he was killed and when we received the notification, our mother kept writing letters to Morten and was very worried when she didn’t get any letters back. After the war, the letters were returned, unopened. A niece of ours who never knew Morten but feels a strong connection to him has these letters, along with his purple heart, combat infantryman medal and other artifacts. We are torn about whether or not we should open them. Any thoughts?
Our sister Louise wrote a poem about Morten:
So young! He didn’t want to fight …
His country called. He went
And did his best and died and left
At nineteen life all spent.
Morten was a fine wood-carver. He had carved a fine crucifix using the cover picture from The Lutheran magazine as a model and it stood on display in our house for many years. In the last year he was at home he carved a figure of Aphrodite and our mother said, "She doesn't have enough clothes." Before he went into the army Morten put the figure in a Mason jar, capped it, and buried it in the woods by Little Lake, which bordered our farm. Of course he never returned to dig it up. I've thought about looking for some landmark he might have used to locate it but gave up this task as hopeless. So there it remains, never to be seen again.