In Memory of
U.S. Marine Corps Captain Huron, South Dakota
Beadle County

May 26, 1918 – August 6, 1952 (MIA)
                           March 17, 1954 (FOD)
Died While Prisoner of War in Korea


Forest Archie Nelson was born May 26, 1918 in Huron, South Dakota to Nels E. and Etna (Coyer) Nelson. Forest attended school in his hometown of Huron. Forest enlisted in the South Dakota National Guard on May 30, 1936, Company C, 109th Engineers, and was discharged in 1939, but reenlisted the same year and served until May 15, 1940. According to his WW II bonus application, Forest then entered the Marine Corps on June 16, 1941, where he was trained as a pilot. Lt. Nelson served his country overseas in WW II, leaving active duty on February 16, 1946. He married his wife, Agnes Sarah (Sally) on May 17, 1947 in Huron, and they had two children, Penny Ann, and Jon Nels. While Forest and his family lived in Huron, he owned and operated a restaurant known as Sally’s Café, presumably named for his wife.

When he was recalled to duty in the Marine Corps, he had to sell the restaurant. Around January of 1952, Forest Archie Nelson reported for active duty once again. He got his family settled in California before he went overseas with the Marine Air Group 12 of the 1st Marine Air Wing on June 16, 1952. At about the same time, his daughter, Penny, contracted bulbar polio and was completed paralyzed. The crew of the USS Mispillion, whose home port was at Long Beach where the Nelson family was living, made Penny their “sister” and raised money for her and her medical expenses. She did make a recovery enough to eventually tour their ship before it embarked for its next cruise. Her parting words to them were ‘to win the war, and bring her daddy home.’ Former crewmembers of the USS Mispillion are currently seeking information as to the fate of Penny Nelson for an upcoming reunion.

On August 6, 1952, Captain Forest Archie Nelson piloted an AU-1 Corsair attack fighter with Marine Attack Squadron 212 (VMA-212 ) over Kwijon-ni, North Korea, when he was shot down by anti-aircraft fire. His plane was named “Miss Penny” in honor of his daughter. Captain Nelson successfully bailed out of the plane before it crashed and burned. He was last seen on the ground gathering his parachute. There was an attempted search and rescue, but it was not successful. Captain Forest Nelson was taken as a prisoner of war and died as a POW on March 17, 1954. His body was never recovered. He has a memorial stone in his honor at Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis.

Incidentally, it is possible to buy a “Miss Penny F4U Corsair” model die cast metal airplane on the Internet, presumably modeled after Forest Nelson’s plane named for his beloved daughter, Penny.

Captain Forest Nelson was awarded the Purple Heart, the Prisoner of War Medal, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal.

This entry was respectfully submitted by Miranda Reed, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota, July 28, 2004. Information for this entry was provided by American Battle Monuments Commission, South Dakota National Guard Museum, an application for a South Dakota veteran’s bonus, and Memorial stone photos were taken by Mrs. Hansen. No family contact made.