World War II Central Illinois Stories

Oral History Interview: Earl Swanson of Urbana


Earl R. Swanson was a farm boy from East Lynn, Ill., when he enrolled in Advanced ROTC as a freshman at the University of Illinois in 1939. Upon graduation in 1943, he trained with the 592nd Field Artillery Battalion attached to the 106th Infantry in Camp Atterbury, Ind. When the 106th was being deployed to Europe, they had a surplus of F.A. officers, so Swanson was sent to infantry school in Camp Blanding, Fla. In July of 1945, he became a replacement officer in Cannon Company of the 161st Regiment of the 25th Division, the “Tropic Lightning” Division, in the Philippines. Their mission was to “clean up” in the Philippines and prepare for the invasion of Japan. After Japan’s surrender, Capt. Swanson served in the occupation of Japan until returning to the States in May 1946. He remained in the reserves, and served his country again in Washington, D.C., during the Korean War, 1952-53.