First Lieutenant John D. Garvik, 29th Infantry Division, 115th Regiment, 3rd Battalion
Buried at Normandy American Military Cemetery Colleville-sur-Mer, Plot 14 Row 11 Grave 17
John Garvik was born in St. Paul, Minnesota on November 25, 1915. He grew up as most kids of the day, playing outside with his friends and competing in whatever sport was currently in season. John loved the out of doors and spent many a summer at YMCA camp in northern Minnesota. He was adept in dealing with what the weather could deal out and spent many a night “under the stars”. John was a good student graduating from St. Paul Central High School and went on to receive a degree in Business Administration from the University of Minnesota. Upon graduation he went to work in the family insurance business and married Emily Hultgren. John and Emily had two children, John Benjamin born in 1941 and Jevne Anne born in 1943. Both are alive today and reside in Minnesota.
Following the events of December 7, 1941 John decided it was his duty to serve his country and like many a young man had an itch to prove himself. He was not eligible for the draft as his age eliminated him. He memorized the eye chart prior to his physical and enlisted in January 1943. He had heard about the “Rangers” and was anxious to prove himself, he was sent to Officers Candidate School at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Upon graduation from OCS it was off to “Ranger” training at Fort Benning, Georgia and Camp Forest, Tennessee. He was a member of the 5th Rangers.
John returned to Minnesota in the late fall of 1943 after completing “Ranger” training. His unit was due to ship out in late December and he and Emily were expecting the arrival of Jevne Anne. Unfortunately, the birth did not cooperate with his unit’s deployment and John headed to England with his unit never seeing the birth of his daughter. From January until late April 1944 he and his unit prepared for the upcoming invasion. The 5th Rangers trained hard and there were frequent accidents and even a few deaths. It was not easy.
In late April or early May 1944 John was provided with a “great opportunity” He was offered the potential to become a Company Commander in the 29th Infantry, 115th Regiment, 3rd Battalion. He was promoted to First Lieutenant and served in L Company under the command of Captain Arthur Lawson. This was not unusual; as the 115th was comprised of National Guard units from Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C. Promotions occurred to “stiffen” the guard units as D-day approached.
Lieutenant Garvik’s unit landed on Omaha Beach at approximately 10:30 AM, June 6, 1944 just north of the Les Moulins draw. They moved inland wading through inundated areas, dealing with snipers and going without a hot meal for four days. Finally on the evening of June 10, 1944 the 115th stopped to catch their breath on the banks above the Elle River. Across the river were troops of the German 352nd. This is classic hedgerow country and the Germans held the high ground. An attack was planned for daylight on June 12, this was not a good day for the 115th and they took it on the chin. Lt. John Garvik was killed in the action, along with a significant number of the 115th who were killed or wounded.
David Pennock is the nephew of 1stLt. Garvik. Diane and David Pennock, in recognition of the Normandy Campaign as a defining moment in World History, offer a $3000 Teacher Grant in honor of 1st Lt. John Garvik in order to provide a first hand experience that will enable the recipient to further communicate and teach others about the sacrifices made by so many for the betterment of us all.
Additional information on the Teacher Grant requirements is available from Marsha Smith, PO Box 1332 Pittsford NY 14534, firstname.lastname@example.org
The deadline for Teacher Grant applications February 15th.
Originally published in Amitié, the newsletter of Normandy Allies.
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