In Memory of
U.S. Army Private First Class Volga, South Dakota
Brookings County

December 27, 1927 – October 22, 1951
Killed in Action in Korea


Orvall P. Larson was born to O’Neal and Pearl (Skattum) Larson on December 27, 1927, in Volga, South Dakota. He had two brothers, Richard and Maynard, and one sister, Joann. He was educated in rural schools around Brookings and graduated from Sinai High School. He farmed before he was drafted into the service.

Larson entered the service on January 23, 1951, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He did his basic training in Fort Riley, Kansas, and left for Korea on June 1, 1951, as part of the 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division.

Private First Class Orvall P. Larson was killed when “attacking positions near Nodong Ni, North Korea on October 22, 1951.” He was 23 years old. According to a newspaper account, his parents were actually informed of his death through a letter sent home by a buddy and fellow South Dakotan, Hollis Peterson, who went through training and their early service together. His letter home started with “This is the hardest letter I have ever had to write…” and went on to say that he “had seen Pfc. Larson die in a battle with the Chinese.” Peterson saw Orvall “at the base of a hill” they were trying to take. It ended up that Larson’s machine gun outfit was trying to free up Peterson’s infantry unit, which was trapped. In the battle that followed, “the enemy zeroed in on the machine gun outfit and all were killed,” while men in Peterson’s outfit were all wounded except for Peterson himself. Official notification followed that confirmed Orvall’s death but did not provide any details.

The body of Orvall Larson was later returned to the United States and buried with military honors on January 26, 1952, at the Lutheran Cemetery in Sinai. Pfc. Larson was awarded the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Korean War Service Medal.

He was preceded in death by his brother, Maynard, whom he was buried beside.

This entry was respectfully submitted by Aeriell A. Follette, 8th Grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota, May 26, 2004. Information for this entry was provided by the SD National Guard Museum, an application for a veteran’s bonus, and newspaper clippings, one of which was courtesy of Barbara Behrend, Brookings. No family contact was made.