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Martin Nurkkanen
War: World War II
Branch: United States Army
Unit: 80th Infantry
Date of Birth: October 20, 1920
Place of Birth: Kaleha, Michigan


Martin Nurkkanen was born October 20, 1920 in Kaleha, Michigan. He was married in 1942 and in 1943 his son was born. Martin was then drafted into the army in February of 1943. He received basic training in Little Rock, Arkansas at Camp Robinson and then went on to Camp Phillips for additional training and finally Arizona for desert maneuvers. At the time of training, his unit, the 80th Infantry was to be deployed to North Africa, but by the time they were ready to deploy, that front was closed. Instead, Martin went with the 80th over to Europe on the Queen Mary, and then on to France.

Martinís unit landed at Omaha Beach, after the D-Day invasion, and proceeded through France. While at Flayís Gap, Martin narrowly escaped being killed by a German shell by jumping into a ditch. The blast left his backpack in shreds and he was injured by the shrapnel. After being treated for his injuries, he was told he could choose not to go back to the front lines, but he decided to rejoin the 80th as he believed they still had a job to finish, and he wanted to help finish it. Along with the 80th, Martin relieved troops at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge.

Martinís unit crossed into Germany, liberating a concentration camp and then went on into Czechoslovakia. After the war ended, Martin traveled back to Camp McCoy, Wisconsin and was discharged. He then returned to his job at Ford Motor Company, as a quality control employee.