The last surviving World War 2 veteran from a famous North Dakota National guard unit has passed away.  According to a press release from the North Dakota National Guard Unit in Bismarck, Douglas P, “Doug” Burtell, who served in the famed 164th Infantry Regiment, was the last original member of the unit residing in North Dakota.  Doug Burtell died in Bowman on April 3rd, just weeks shy of his 97th birthday.

Burtell was only 16 years old when he joined the North Dakota National Guard in Fargo in late 1940. Assigned to the Intelligence and Reconnaissance Section of the Infantry Regiment he was trained to interpret aerial photographs, draw maps based on reconnaissance patrols, and analyze captured materials.

Burtell was one of 1,723 Soldiers of the 164th Infantry Regiment that mobilized in February 1941 for a year of training at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana.  The United States entered the war after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7th, 1941 and ten months later, the regiment would sail into history as the first U.S. Army unit to offensively engage the enemy when they landed at Guadalcanal on Oct. 13, 1942, to reinforce the 1st Marine Division.

His artwork help tell the every day stories of the Soldiers as they fought their way through islands in the South Pacific. Burtell was recently honored when the North Dakota adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann, announced that one of his sketches would be featured on his new recognition coin. Other artwork by Burtell is etched in granite on the 164th Infantry Regiment Memorial located at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery, his final resting place.

His burial will be today at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery, Thursday, April 8th at 3 pm.  These are the true heroes of America, people like Doug Burtell.  Men and women who served for our country and so many of them paid the ultimate sacrifice.  We salute you Doug and all you did for our country.  Rest in peace.


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