Arthur Nieland's Purple Heart

This purple heart medal was awarded to Arthur Bernard Nieland, the eldest son of Bernard and Mary Nieland and grandson of John Henry Nieland. Arthur was born on August 25, 1918 and died September 7th 1944, after being taken prisoner by the Japanese in the Philippine Islands during WW II.

Right: Arthur Nieland's purple heart medal awarded following his death in WW II

The following historical information was provided by Art Nieland's nephew, Russ Bierl.

On February 2, 1941, Art Nieland was drafted into the Army. He first traveled to Des Moines and then Ft. Snelling, Minnesota before being transferred to Ft. Francis E. Warren, Wyoming. He was in the Quartermaster Corps and later trained at Ft Douglas near Salt Lake City, Utah.

Art came home for a two week furlough on August 15th, 1941. After his leave he was sent to the Philippine Islands where he served as a fire fighter with the 5th Air Base Group on the Island of Mindanao in the Philippines. The Philippine Islands were attacked by the Japanese on December 8th, 1941 and Art was taken prisoner on May 25, 1942. He was kept in a POW camp on the islands until August 20th, 1944 when all the prisoners were put on a Japanese ship which left the port of Davao, Mindanao, to be moved out ahead of the advancing American liberation forces.

Left: Purple Heart Certificate issued March 15, 1945

On September 7th, 1944 the Japanese freighter Shingo Maru was sailing toward Japan with over 750 American POWs on board. The U.S. submarine U.S.S. Paddle sank the ship with two torpedoes off the western shore of Mindanao. Only 82 Americans survived the attack. Pvt. Arthur Bernard Nieland, #37039730, lost his life that day.

The family was officially notified on February 19, 1945, by letter from the War Department, that Art was killed. While he was a prisoner, the family would kneel together with Arthur's picture on the table and say the rosary every night after supper. The War Department later sent a Purple Heart decoration award to the family.

Ben and Mary Nieland always kept a picture of Art in their living room. The family did not have a group photograph taken before Art was lost. They later took a family portrait and had Art's picture inserted into it (photo at right).

The State of Iowa paid Mary Nieland, as Art's mother, a $500 WW II Service Compensation death benefit, which had been voted by the 52nd Iowa General Assembly in 1950. On November 12th, 1978 a flag pole, donated by the Nieland family in memory of Art, was dedicated in St. Bernard's Catholic Cemetery in Breda. Arts name also appears on a monument near the Sac County Court House and his picture hangs in the American Legion building in Breda.


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