Welte Family History Research

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For over 40 years, I have been researching my family history. Now that I'm retired, I can devote more time and effort into more research, compilation, and organization of that work! Over the past 12 years, I have been very fortunate in teaching genealogy classes, along with my computer experience, at Blackhawk Technical College. I've also created a business - "Field of Genes" - a "Ride-N-Seek" experience to help other families find their own ancestors.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

12 Ancestors - #20 Edwin J. Welte - Remembering the Fallen...

Remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice while fighting for our country...here is my own relative's story: I had always heard that my dad’s first cousin had died in World War II on the island of Tarawa. At first I didn’t even know his first name. Armed with only a last name, that he died in World War II, and the Tarawa conflict that took place in 1943, I searched the online records of the American Battle Monuments Commission. I immediately saw that his name was Edwin J. Welte, and his status was “Missing in Action” and that he was memorialized in the “Courts of the Missing, Court 2, Honolulu Memorial” in Hawaii. I also had obtained information from a war-related publication that he was trained as a medical doctor, and he was shot while he was in a landing craft and never made it to shore. 

U.S. Marines' Assault on Tarawa - U.S. Navy Photo (poorwilliam.net)
What I found were the following details:

1) With a search of the online records of the American Battle Monuments Commission, I noted his rank was that of Lieutenant with the USNR (United States Naval Reserve). He entered from Minnesota so I had another piece of his history as my Edwin Welte was from Minnesota. According to the University of Minnesota yearbook record on www.Ancestry.com, Pi Beta Pi Fraternity, he was a 1937 graduate and he majored in the study of Medicine. In the U.S. Marine Corps Muster Rolls, T977 – 1893-1958, Roll 0607, on www.Ancestry.com, he is listed as a “Bn Surgeon” which means
he was a Battalion Surgeon.

2) According to several muster records, such as the U.S. Marine Corps Muster Rolls, 1798-1958, he had been sent to the secret classified destination, noted in the records, known as Guadalcanal. Then he had orders to go to Tarawa. The U.S. Navy covered the landings of Marines and Army troops on Tarawa and Makin Atolls on 20 November 1943. His name is listed as a casualty of World War II while in the USNR (United States Naval Reserve) with the rank of Lieutenant in the World War II Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Casualties, 1941-1945 records.

3) According to the journal entry on Page 354 in Chaplain Willard’s Journal Entry of personnel killed/wounded, information sent to me in an e-mail message dated 13 April 2007, from Jim Hildebrand, Lt. Welte died of a “GSW or Gunshot wound to the head and face - hostile action.”


Edwin J. Welte was the son of Henry J. Welte and Mayme (Malone) and he was born in 1913 in Crookston, Polk County, Minnesota. He is the one I always remember on Memorial Day.


Unknown said...

The Tarawa Project Page lists Doctor Welte's last known address as being on the corner of Laurel and Cleveland Avenues in Saint Paul. Also, Robert Sherrod's book, "Tarawa, the Story of a Battle," prominently mentions Dr. Welte throughout the book!

dgfamilyhistorian said...

Thank you very much, Jeff, because I knew I had seen the reference to Dr. Welte in Mr. Sherrod's book some years ago, but I had forgotten where I had seen it! I can't tell you how grateful I am that you commented on my post and I will finally be able to read more about him in this book about Tarawa. Thank you again!

Deborah I. Welte Gosa

Dave Blake said...

My uncle ,Dr. Henry Blake, served alongside Dr. Welte on Guadalcanal, but missed Tarawa because he got malaria, dengue fever, and hepatitus and was removed from combat duties. He mentioned being triaged for dead at one time, but survived anyway. I believe they worked together in the battalion aid station, as he mentions Dr. Welte in some writings. His service records got burned in a big military records fire that happened in 1969 or so and affected service members from Kansas and Missouri, and I've been trying to discover the unit he was in. I believe it was the Second Marine Division, Second Regiment. Would you happen to know the unit Dr. Welte served in on Guadalcanal, including the battalion? Would you happen to know the ship he landed on Guadalcanal from? Actually, being in the Second Marine Division, he would have landed on either Tulagi or Florida Island.