Carl Luther Zaar

Carl Luther Zaar
648 08 86
Hoffman, MN
Parents, Carl & Anna Zaar
1/5/1942 – 10/25/1945
Roi-Namur HQ/1/24 Corpsman PhM2c
Saipan HQ/1/24 Corpsman PhM2c WIA
Tinian HQ/1/24 Corpsman PhM2c
Iwo Jima HQ/1/24 Corpsman PhM2c
Bronze Star, Purple Heart
Pharmacist’s Mate, First Class

Carl Gustaf Zaar was a naturalized American citizen who immigrated from Sweden in 1897 and married Minnesota-born Anna Larson. The two made their home in Crookston, Minnesota until 1915; that summer, they moved to Vancouver, British Columbia where Carl became the pastor of a Lutheran church located on the corner of Princess Avenue and Pender Street (now Strathcona Church). The Zaars lived in the attached home – 431 Princess Avenue – and it was here that their first son, Carl Luther Zaar, was born on 13 July 1916.

“Luther” spent the first few years of his life in Vancouver (his brother Marcus was born there in 1918) before moving to Hoffman, Minnesota in 1920. Younger sister Arleen followed later that year, and the fourth and final sibling, Neadra, was born in 1922. The Zaar children grew up in Hoffman and in Wheaton, Minnesota, where Luther completed high school. By 1940, he was living in Madison, South Dakota and working as a grocery clerk. He also completed three years of college, possibly at nearby Dakota State University.

Zaar enlisted in the Navy on 5 January 1942, and was selected to attend Hospital Corps School. Little is known of his first year in uniform, but he eventually attended Field Medical School and in April of 1943 was assigned to the 24th Marines. The following month, Zaar was posted to the medical section of First Battalion, 24th Marines – the unit with whom he would serve in the Pacific.

Pharmacist’s Mate Second Class Zaar – or “Doc” Zaar – would fight in all four battles of the 4th Marine Division. He suffered a slight wound on 9 July 1944 during the battle of Saipan; not enough for evacuation, but enough to earn a Purple Heart. He was recommended for the Bronze Star for his actions during the Marianas campaigns, but was passed over both for the decoration and a possible promotion. Undaunted, Zaar redoubled his efforts in the next battle – he not only survived the brutality of Iwo Jima, but received a meritorious promotion to Pharmacist’s Mate First Class and a second Bronze Star recommendation for valorous conduct on 24 February 1945. This time, the citation was approved, and Zaar received his medal in a ceremony on the Fourth of July.

Many of 1/24’s corpsmen were decorated for valor after Iwo Jima. Walter Dodd, Robert Haynes, Robert Ervin, Curly Klauss, and Carl Zaar were awarded the Bronze Star. For Dodd and Klauss, it was the second such honor.

On 12 August 1945, Zaar and many of the other senior corpsmen were transferred from 1/24 to Headquarters, Fleet Marine Force Pacific. They were likely intended for new posts as instructors or in rear area hospitals, but the end of the war nullified any such plans. Zaar received his honorable discharge on 25 October 1945 – and quickly headed home to spend time with his new wife, the former Bertha Ban, whom he married while on furlough that September. Their son, Carl Zaar Junior, was born on 4 July 1946.

Little is known of Carl Zaar’s life after his discharge. He died in Hudson, Wisconsin on 21 March 1985 and is buried in Willow River Cemetery.

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