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Clifford Guldlin "Dede" Simenson

LT COL in 23rd Headquarters Co


Born 1909 in ND, Died 2004

Other residence(s): Valley City, ND; Boulder, CO in 2004
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
College education before the war: West Point
Source: Roster of 23d HQ officers, from family of Oscar Seale; West Point Graduates list from Cliff Simenson, 27 Dec 2002; Ghost Army roster by state; 603rd reunion mailing list; photo courtesy of West Point Association of Graduates

Clifford Simenson was born on October 19, 1909 in Valley City, ND, a small city in between Bismarck and Fargo. His mother and all four of his grandparents were born in Norway, and his father, Olaf, ran the general store in town for 55 years. He was the fourth of seven sons.

In high school, Clifford was president of the junior and senior classes, quarterback of the football team, and trumpet player in the school band. He attended the University of North Dakota, and later joined his older brother Edwin at West Point. There he played hockey, lacrosse, and soccer. Edwin graduated in 1932, and Clifford in 1934.

After graduation, Clifford served as an infantry officer at Fort Benning in Georgia, and it was there that he married Evelin Schillerstrom in 1938. Almost immediately they left for the Philippines. Clifford's service there ended in 1941; they were one of the last families to leave before the Japanese invasion.

After a brief stint at Fort Custer in Michigan, Clifford was assigned to HQ, Army Ground Forces under General Lesley J. McNair. According to his obituary in Taps, his "mobilization work earned him promotions from captain to lieutenant colonel in 18 months."

It was about this time that the Simensons' first daughter, Bonnie, was born.

He then attended a three-month course at Command and General Staff College (CGSC) in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and served a short time with the Airborne Command, completing his first and only jump just before he was recruited to serve in the Ghost Army as the operations officer for the 23rd HQ Special Troops. In his book, The Ghost Army of World War II, author Rick Beyer describes how Simenson "found himself perplexed about how best to proceed. 'There were no manuals, no instructions, no guidance, and no orders from higher headquarters except to prepare for overseas movement.' . . . Simenson threw himself wholeheartedly into the deception mission. Intelligent and open-minded, he was instrumental in formulating the doctrines and tactics they would employ on the battlefield to simulate larger units under a variety of different conditions."

Clifford's brother Edwin served as a Colonel in the Air Force during WWII—he was also stationed in England (as Clifford was for a time).

Clifford was transferred out of the 23rd shortly before the end of the war and commanded infantry battalions in Germany. From 1945-1947, he was operations chief at the ETO HQ in Frankfurt.

After that, back to Fort Benning from 1947-50; daughter Joanne was born there. From 1950-53 he served at the Pentagon and was promoted to the rank of COL. He commanded the 14th Infantry Regiment in Korea, and in 1954 was awarded the Ulchi Distinguished Service Medal by the Republic of Korea--their second highest decoration for military personnel.

Clifford graduated from the Army War College in 1955, and then served at the HQ, Continental Army Command, at Fort Monroe, VA.

In preparation for a strategic assignment in Germany, Clifford then spent significant time in study—perfecting his German at the Army Language School and pursuing another course of study at the Army Strategic Intelligence School. Thus armed, he and his family moved to Bonn where he served as the Army attaché at the US embassy from 1959-1962. His obituary points out that this was "a tumultuous time that saw the Berlin Wall go up in 1961. Dede's friendly approach, however, fostered German/US relations and assisted in blending the military strengths of the two countries. In 1962, Chancellor Konrad Adenauer awarded Dede the German Iron Cross, one of the first given to an American."

Clifford's final assignment was as the Minnesota Sector Commander of the XIV US Army Corps at Fort Snelling. He retired from the Army in 1964.

His obituary describes three accomplishments of which he was most proud: "his assistance with the mobilization of 9.5 million soldiers for WWII; his contributions to the Marshall Plan at the end of WWII; and his participation in the debates at the Pentagon concerning the prevention of WWIII."

When he left the service, he and Evelin settled in Boulder, CO where he took up hunting, fishing, camping, walking, and gardening. He was active in community service, working on behalf of the disabled, and he was recognized by the Boulder County Commissioners as an outstanding volunteer. He was also founder and first president of the Boulder County Chapter of the Retired Officers Association.

Clifford died on October 6, 2004, and he and Evelin, who died in 1992, are both buried at Arlington National Cemetery.


1910 census

1920 census

1954 article in The Tampa Times (FL) re his Korean service

1955 article in the Newport News VA Daily Press re his transfer to VA from PA

1962 article in the Minneapolis MN Star Tribune re his Bonn service

1962 article in The Winona Daily News (MN) re his return stateside

2004 VA death record

2004 US Veterans' Gravesites

2004 obituary in Taps, A Supplement to Assembly Magazine

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