Veteran Biographies

Crew photo featuring fallen Portland-area WWII veteran William Susanka, third from left in back row

These biographies, though brief, highlight the lives - and deaths - of local veterans who died while serving their country. Their bravery and sacrifices are not forgotten; the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, memorial walls and temporary Digital Memorial are a monument to theirs and others' sacrifices. 

James Harrington, Spanish American War

James Harrington, fallen veteran featured on the memorial wall at Veterans Memorial Coliseum

The son of Irish Immigrants, Massachusetts native Private James Harrington was born in 1853, making him perhaps the earliest-born soldier honored at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Fighting in his mid-40s alongside men half his age, Harrington was considered a special soldier and chosen for a military assault unit called the Young’s Scouts. Harrington was killed in action at Tarbon Bridge in San Isidro, Philippines, as part of successful American capture of that city. Before his death, he successfully returned fire against a sniper who had fatally wounded several fellow Young’s Scouts.

In the 1902 book “Oregon Volunteers in the Spanish American War and Philippine Insurrection,” Harrington was said to be “one of the bravest and most daring members of the band.” When informed of Harrington’s death, Major General Henry Ware Lawton said losing him was equivalent to losing two regiments. Private James Harrington is buried at River View Cemetery in Portland.

Arthur R. Knouff, World War I

Arthur R. Knouff, fallen WWI veteran featured at on the memorial wall at Veterans Memorial Coliseum

Born in Cambridge, Ohio in 1894, Arthur Roland Knouff attended Portland’s Washington High School. His athletic talents earned him a scholarship and star player status. He played football at Oregon Agricultural College, later renamed Oregon State University.

Sgt. Knouff was killed after stepping on a German trench bomb near Lorraine, France on Nov. 10, 1918, just one day before armistice in World War I was declared. In a letter to Sgt. Knouff’s father-in-law, Portland city attorney W.P. LaRoche, Army chaplain J.T. Addison wrote, “I know how heavy must be your sense of loss…But I am sure you must feel, too, as we do, that he met his death gallantly as part of the great final victory, and in the noblest of causes.”

Lawrence A. Witherspoon, World War I

Lawrence Witherspoon, fallen WWI veteran featured at on the memorial wall at Veterans Memorial Coliseum

Born in Chicago in 1900, Private First Class Lawrence A. Witherspoon moved to Portland when he was nine years old. Before enlisting in the U.S. Army on April 3, 1917, he worked locally for the Southern Pacific Railroad. He died of pneumonia on February 20, 1918 while serving in France with the 41st Division, 162nd Infantry. He is buried the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery in Fere-en-Tardenois, France.

William P. Morin, World War I

Born in 1890 in Cascade Locks, Oregon, William P. Morin was a civil engineer by trade. He was killed Feb. 5, 1918 off the coast of Scotland when the troop ship named Tuscania he was aboard was sunk by German torpedoes. His body was recovered off the coast and he is buried at River View Cemetery in Portland.

In a Feb.13, 1918 Oregon Journal article, Morin’s wife, Evelyn, said her husband was “intensely patriotic” and had proudly enlisted at Fort Vancouver rather than waiting for the draft. According to Evelyn, she had “personally embroidered her husband's name on all of his socks, undergarments and shirts.” She also shared a letter that her husband sent before shipping out from New York, which described taking part in a rifle drill observed by President Woodrow Wilson. He would “soon be over the big pond,” Morin wrote, “as they sure need us over there."

Alfred W. Anderson, World War II

Alfred Anderson, fallen WWII veteran featured on the memorial wall at Veterans Memorial Coliseum

Born in West Linn, Oregon on June 10, 1916 to Swedish immigrants Alfred and Edith Anderson, Alfred William Anderson grew up in the Rosemont neighborhood, graduating from West Linn High School in 1934. Anderson worked as a teller in the Oregon City branch of United States National Bank before entering the U.S. Naval Reserve. He was married to Ruth Audre Anderson, owner of a local women’s clothing store called Audre’s.

Anderson was killed on July 1, 1942 aboard the USS Warrior when his ship was hit by German submarine torpedoes in the Caribbean Sea, about 125 miles east of Trinidad. The Oregon City Enterprise reported his status as missing on July 22, and stated: “Ensign Alfred W. Anderson is a well-known young man of Oregon City and the Rosemont district.” He received a posthumous Silver Star“for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity,” the citation read. It continues:

Ensign Anderson remained onboard after the crew had abandoned the vessel and with courageous disregard for his own personal safety, continued to man a 3-inch gun from a precarious position on the rapidly sloping deck. When the ship finally up-ended, he lost his footing and fell from the gun platform into the water. By his grim perseverance in those last swift seconds and his unyielding loyalty in the face of imminent, ever-increasing danger, he prevented the full surfacing of the submarine and subsequent possibility of further casualties.”

Besides being included on a memorial wall at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland, Ensign Alfred W. Anderson’s is also enshrined on the World War II East Coast Memorial in New York City's Battery Park. The memorial commemorates the more than 4,600 members of the military who lost their lives in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean during World War II.

Harold Brogan, World War II

A Portlander who graduated from Jefferson High School in 1939, Sargent Harold Brogan served as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army and participated in the D-Day invasion of France.

Commanding over 60 men, Brogan was wounded on July 4, 1944, while his company was attacking Mount Castre near the town of La Haye-du-Puits, France, the last highest point in Normandy and the last German-controlled territory there. He died the next day.

Born in Ireland but raised in Portland, Brogan worked at the ESCO metal-components plant in Northwest Portland and was nicknamed “Irish.” He met his wife, June, at a dance and they were married in 1941.

After his 1942 enlistment at Ft. Lewis, Washington, he wrote his family, “I enlisted for 2 reasons: #1. to prove that I am a real Yank; #2. I joined the paratroopers to make my family proud." Brogan trained with the 508th parachute infantry in North Carolina, briefly returning to Portland in March 1943 on furlough to be with June when their daughter Sharon was born. 

Roy Vincent Haho, World War II

Roy Vincent Haho, fallen WWII veteran featured on the memorial wall at Veterans Memorial Coliseum

Born in Astoria, Oregon in 1917, Second Lieutenant Roy Vincent A. Haho of the US Army Air Corps moved to Portland and attended the schools known today as Rose City Park Elementary and Cleveland High School, where he became a talented baseball player known for pitching both right and left-handed. In 1942, shortly before entering military service, he attended a school for professional prospects headed by four-time World Series champion Carl Mays.

Haho earned his wings as a pilot at a Stockton, California air base. After heading to Europe his Liberator bomber crashed in Belfast, Northern Ireland during a training mission. He died on October 10, 1943 and is interred at the Rose City Cemetery in Portland.

Grover Hunt, World War II

Grover Hunt, WWII veteran featured on the memorial wall at Veterans Memorial Coliseum

Born on October 24, 1914, Grover Vanderhoef Hunt was a member of the Portland Police plain clothes detail for two years prior to his enlistment in the U.S. Marines in February 1944. Private First Class Grover Vanderhoef Hunt was killed in action on May 19, 1945 in the Battle of Okinawa. According to a notice in The Oregonian, PFC Hunt had been married to Marjorie P. Hunt. They had a son named Jerry Hunt who was six years old at the time of his death. Hunt is interred at Lincoln Memorial Park cemetery in Portland.

David Kingsley, World War II

David Kingsley, fallen WWII veteran featured on the memorial wall at Veterans Memorial Coliseum

David Richard Kingsley was born in Portland, Oregon on June 27, 1918. He was the son of a Portland Police investigator and the second-oldest of nine children, growing up on SW Montgomery Street. Losing his father at 10 and his mother at 21, he helped raise many of his siblings. He served as a firefighter before joining the Army Air Forces in April 1942. Within a year, he was a second lieutenant and bombardier in the 97th Bombardment Group, Fifteenth Air Force.

Kingsley earned the Medal of Honor, the United State's highest military accolade, for his selfless sacrifice during a bombing mission over Romania on June 23, 1944, where he served as a bombardier aboard a B-17. After his aircraft was badly damaged by enemy fire, Kingsley came to the aid of two wounded members of the crew. When the wounded tail-gunner’s parachute was found to be missing, he placed his own parachute on the wounded man and help the crew bail out of the burning plane. Kingsley's body located and returned to the U.S. where it was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

On May 4, 1945, at a ceremony held in St. Michael the Archangel church, where he had been a parishioner, Kingsley’s brother Tom, a Navy veteran who had survived the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, was presented with his posthumous Congressional Medal of Honor by Major General Ralph P. Cousins. Kingsley Air Force Base in Klamath Falls is named after him.

Allan F. Knappenberger, World War II

Allan Knappenberger's grave, fallen WWII veteran featured on the memorial wall at Veterans Memorial Coliseum

Born on September 12, 1924, Portland native Allan Knappenberger served in the United States Army’s 358th Infantry and died on July 5, 1944 near the small town of Periers in Normandy, France, less than one month after the D-Day invasion. He was killed by a German mortar shell explosion just a few days after being deployed with the 90th Division’s Company B. Private Knappenberger is buried at the Normandy American Cemetery and posthumously received the Purple Heart Medal.

A graduate of Columbia Preparatory School in North Portland, where he lettered in three sports and served as student body president, Knappenberger was the youngest of three brothers to serve in World War II, along with John Doyle Knappenberger (1913-71) and Robert Thomas Knappenberger (1917-2001).

In a Memorial Day 2002 op-ed published in The Oregonian, Allan Knappenberger’s nephew, Tom Knappenberger,  wrote, “Everyone loved Knappy. The pro at Columbia Edgewater said he could be a golf star. His grades were high. Clearly he could choose his future. He chose to serve his country.”

William Susanka, World War II

William Susanka, fallen WWII veteran featured on the memorial wall at Veterans Memorial Coliseum

Born in Arkansas in 1918 as one of five children, Second Lieutenant William L. Susanka Jr. moved to Gresham as a child and lived in Portland for many years before enrolling in the Army Air Corps in 1942. He served as a pilot for a B-24 bomber and was part of the 23rd Bomber Squadron, 5th Bomber Group. On January 5, 1945, Lt. Susanka and a crew of nine other airmen took off from Morotai Island on a bombing mission over Labuan, Borneo. After successfully completing their mission, the plane never returned to base. They were believed to have crashed at sea due to bad weather. Lt. Susanka received a posthumous Purple Heart and Air Medal.

William Duffy, Korean War

Born in Portland on May 23, 1931, Private William Duffy was a member of the U.S. Army’s 32nd Infantry. Private Duffy was killed on the first day of his deployment in the Korean War.

Raymond McCoun, Korean War

Raymond McCoun, fallen Korean War veteran featured on the memorial wall at Veterans Memorial Coliseum

Born January 31, 1933 in Yankton, South Dakota, Corporal Raymond J. McCoun moved to Oregon with his family in 1948 and attended Milwaukie High School. He joined the Marine Corps after graduation and married Dorothy McCoun in April 1951. Shortly after arriving in the combat zone he died from wounds suffered in battle near Yongchon, Korea on July 17, 1953. He was 20 years old and left behind a one-year-old son, Michael.

Gabriel Anselmo, Korean War

Gabriel Anselmo, fallen Korean War veteran featured on the memorial wall at Veterans Memorial Coliseum

Lieutenant Gabriel C. Anselmo of the U.S. Army was both a World War II and a Korean War veteran. He was born May 1, 1924 in Portland and attended St. Ignatius and Hill Military schools. After graduation, he attended Multnomah College before enlisting in 1943 and receiving his commission in 1945. During World War II he served in Europe as the Allies marched to victory. In Korea, he served in the 24th Infantry, 24th Division. He died at Mt. Ma-san in Korea on August 19, 1950 and was posthumously awarded the Silver Star Medal for gallantry in action, as well as the Purple Heart and the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation.

Larry Iannetta, Vietnam War

Army Specialist Larry Albert Iannetta was born in Oregon City on May 2, 1946 and grew up in Milwaukie. After attending Central Catholic High School for three years, he graduated from Milwaukie Union High School in 1964. His tour of duty with the 1st Cavalry Division, 227th Assault Helicopter Battalion began on January 24, 1968. He was killed in a helicopter crash in South Vietnam’s Thua Thien on March 29, 1968, after the craft was hit by enemy fire. He posthumously received a Purple Heart and the National Defense Service Medal. Specialist Iannetta is buried at Willamette National Cemetery in Portland. His name is listed in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, the Oregon Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Portland and the Gold Star War Memorial at Milwaukie High School.

Edward Iyndellin, Vietnam War

Edward Iyndellin, fallen Vietnam veteran featured on the memorial wall at Veterans Memorial Coliseum

Private First Class Edward Allen Iyndellin was born in Portland on November 12, 1947. A machine gunner in the 1st Marine Division, 1st Battalion, B Company, he was mortally wounded by an explosive device during battle in South Vietnam’s Quang Ngai province. PFC Iyndellin received a posthumous Purple Heart and his name is included in the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Washington, DC. He is buried at Willamette National Cemetery in Portland. Recipient of a posthumous Purple Heart, His name is listed in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC.

Curtis Onchi, Vietnam War

Curtis Onchi, fallen Vietnam veteran featured on the memorial wall at Veterans Memorial Coliseum

First Lieutenant Curtis J. Onchi was born October 8, 1945 at Fort Snelling, Minnesota while his father, Jim Onchi, was serving with the U.S. Army in Europe. After the family moved to the Portland community of Vanport in 1946, they were reunited with local extended family members who had been incarcerated for their Japanese heritage at the Tule Lake Internment Camp. Onchi graduated from Benson High School in 1963, where he played varsity football. He attended Portland State University for three years, earned a black belt in Judo, and served as president of the Junior Japanese-American Citizens League. Onchi enlisted in the Army on January 24, 1967 and received his commission at Fort Benning, Georgia. Arriving in Vietnam on December 20, 1968, he served as a unit commander with the 198th Light Infantry Brigade of the 46th Infantry. Lt. Onchi was killed by an enemy land mine on March 29, 1969.

In a 2019 remembrance shared by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Onchi’s brother Dwight wrote that Lt. Onchi, one of five children, was “the best oldest brother a younger brother could ever have. Curtis was a youth leader in our Japanese American community and he was just finishing up in college at Portland State when he and other Japanese American friends joined the U.S. Armed Forces to fight for our Country's Freedom. When our family was notified of his death in Vietnam the world seemed to stop for a while. He had written me a letter from Vietnam telling me to be a responsible person in life and to take good care of myself and others.”

See the entire list of names on the memorial walls.

Submit a biography to be featured.