In late 1942, Governor Maw issued a proclamation to create the Department of War History and Archives within the Utah State Historical Society.1 Thus began a sustained effort to gather, compile, and memorialize all those from Utah who served in the wars of the twentieth century. At first, records were kept by the Adjutant General, until the Graves Registration Act of 1957 transferred the duty to the Historical Society.2 This initiative created the Military Records Section to be managed by the State Archives, also a part of the Historical Society. From 1949 to 1965, the section was headed by Robert Inscore, primarily tasked with registering all veteran burial locations. These military records are available for research. They document individual and collective service in the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, and the Korean War.
One of record series created by the Historical Society is the World War Military Listings (1917-1951), which are compiled lists, notes, and research to definitively commemorate the men and women from Utah who served. This series is now partially online, with sampling focused on lists of names that may be useful for researching individuals.
More Than One Casualty in a Family
There are 28 pages of Utah families where more than one family member was wounded or killed in World War II. This includes the grief of Mr. and Mrs. Alben Borgstrom, whose four sons were killed in action:3
- Pvt. Clyde Borgstrom – U.S. Marines – Killed in Guadalcanal
- Pfc. LeRoy Elmer Borgstrom – U.S. Army – Killed in Italy
- (Twin) Sgt. Rolon Borgstrom – U.S. Army Air Corps – Died of wounds in England
- (Twin) Pfc. Rulon Borgstrom – U.S. Army – Killed in France
Their brother Cpl. Boyd Borgstrom was honorably discharged after serving in the South Pacific. In a letter to the Salt Lake Telegram, he wrote: “There’s not much I can say about my three brothers being killed, and the other one who is reported missing in action, because nothing I can say will bring them back.”4
As the only four star Gold Star family in World War II, the experience of the Borgstroms led to new policies such as the Sole Survivor Policy in 1948.5
Women in Service
Another list encompasses Utah women with overseas service, with staff specifically checking for discharge status.6
- The Women’s Army Corps (WACS) were the first women besides nurses to serve in the U.S. Army.7 The listings include 57 women from Utah.
- The Women’s Reserve of the Naval Reserve, better known as WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) was created to allow men to go to sea while women performed shore duty.8 Listings include 11 from Utah.
- The remaining pages include Army Nurses (97), Navy Nurses (20), Red Cross (24), and 1 Woman Marine.
These historical military records enable us to recognize the sacrifice in war, and also contain the evidence of the substantial undertaking of that recognition. We hope the World War Military Listings will be of value in research, and a glimpse into the hard work and dedication of the Utah State Historical Society.
1. Utah Division of State Archives, “Utah Military Records Collections,” https://archives.utah.gov/research/guides/military-section.htm (accessed February 9, 2018).
2. Laws of Utah, 1957, Chapter 140, page 334, “Historical Society–Graves Registration,” http://heinonline.org/HOLtest/P?h=hein.ssl/ssut0054&i=352 (accessed February 9, 2018).
3. Utah State Historical Society, World War Military Listings; Utah State Archives and Records Service, Series 19959; digital images (http://images.archives.utah.gov/cdm/ref/collection/p17010coll35/id/875).
4. Pat Bagley, “Living History: Utah family lost four sons to WWII; a fifth came home,” Salt Lake Tribune, May 29, 2011 (http://archive.sltrib.com/article.php?id=51899044&itype=CMSID).
5. Wikipedia contributors, “Borgstrom brothers,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Borgstrom_brothers&oldid=793563075 (accessed February 13, 2018).
6. Utah State Historical Society, World War Military Listings; Utah State Archives and Records Service, Series 19959; digital images (http://images.archives.utah.gov/cdm/ref/collection/p17010coll35/id/1154).
7. Judith A. Bellafaire, ” THE WOMEN’S ARMY CORPS: A COMMEMORATION OF WORLD WAR II SERVICE,” U.S. Army Center of Military History, https://history.army.mil/brochures/WAC/WAC.HTM (accessed February 13, 2018).
8. Naval History and Heritage Command, “Establishment of Women’s Reserve,” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/browse-by-topic/diversity/women-in-the-navy/waves-world-war-ii.html (accessed February 13, 2018).