Events & Programs
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WWII History Round Table: The Viking Battalion
February 13 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
The Dr. Harold C. Deutsch WWII History Round Table & History Revealed
The Viking Battalion: Norwegian American Ski Troopers in World War II
with Olaf Minge, Dr. Kyle Ward and Erik Brun
Tuesday, February 13, 2024
At the Minnesota History Center
Program: 7:00 pm
Student Outreach: 5:45 pm
Participate in informal conversations with the authors and veterans on the program topic.
Round Table admission is free • Parking $6/$4 MNHS members
Minnesota History Center
Round Table admission is free;
Parking $6/$4 MNHS members
The Minnesota History Center’s Market House Grab-n-Go will be open from 4–7 pm on Round Table evenings. Join us for a quick sandwich, snack, or beverage before the programs start.
Join the WWII History Round Table and RCHS for a very special evening as authors and collaborators of The Viking Battalion, Erik Brun, Kyle Ward, and Olaf Minge, share a collection of biographies of the veterans from the 99th Battalion. The battalion was formed by Norwegian-Americans for ground operations in Norway, which was later reconsidered. They showed great valor in the battles of Europe.
Hidden in the crevasses of World War II history is the story of the 99th Infantry Battalion (Separate*). A small unit that rarely gets any attention, it is part of a fascinating story. Alongside battalions of Austrian, Greek, Filipino and Japanese Americans, the Army decided to create an all Norwegian American battalion, originally trained at Camp Hale, Colorado, along with the 10th Mountain Division, with the original mission of liberating Norway. Their exploits during training brought them enough notoriety that members of the 99th were recruited to start the First Special Service Force and a branch of the OSS. Although they were not initially sent to Norway, they would fight in Normandy, across France and Belgium, helped entrap the Germans at Aachen, protected the city of Malmedy during the Battle of the Bulge (where they stopped an attack by Skorzeny and a SS Panzer Division), helped liberate Buchenwald, guarded the Nazi treasures found in Merkers mine and finally served as the Honor Guard for King Haakon VII on his triumphant return to Norway.
The Viking Battalion: Norwegian American Ski Troopers in World War II tells the story of the 99th Infantry Battalion through an anthology of rarely, if ever, previously seen memoirs, journals, letters and newspaper articles written by or about the Viking soldiers.
“What is engaging about this book is that you get to hear the authentic voices of the soldiers through their memoirs, journal entries, and letters. Some are long, some are short, but all are worth reading for the insights you get into the minds of the ordinary soldier and what catches his eye.” ― The Norwegian American
Presenters & Editors
Erik Brun is the son of Christian Magnus From Brun, a Norwegian immigrant and a rifleman in Company C, 99th Infantry Battalion (separate*). Erik completed a thirty-year career as an Army Logistics Officer serving as a battalion commander and Group Support Operations Officer (SOO). He holds an MBA and Master’s Degree in Public History focused on researching the battalion’s saga and served as the president of the 99th Infantry Battalion Education Foundation from 2014 to 2023.
Olaf Minge is the grandson of Captain Raymond K. Minge, the Doctor attached to the 99th Infantry Battalion. He has been active in international service programs with a particular focus on clean water projects in Haiti. He has served on the board of several organizations, including a regional chapter of the Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce. Olaf has been a Director of IT for a global Fortune 50 company. Olaf lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Kyle Ward is the Director of Social Studies Education and teaches classes about World War II, at Minnesota State University, Mankato. He earned his Ph.D. from Indiana State University and has written other books on military history and historiography.
*The 99th Infantry Battalion was created separate from any other formal military organization. They didn’t belong to a specific division or regiment, at least not until January 1945 when they helped to create the 474th Infantry Regiment (which oddly enough, was also separate). This classification allowed for the higher command to plug them in anywhere they wanted, which is what makes this unit so unique in their World War II involvements. They got to see and experience a lot more because of this classification, for better or worse. This was also a title that the Veterans of this unit were very proud of.