Harold Gunnes

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Harold Gunnes
Born (1899-02-06)February 6, 1899
Died March 11, 2003(2003-03-11) (aged 104)
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Navy
Years of service 1917-1918
Unit 339th Infantry Regiment

World War I

 • Polar Bear Expedition

Harold Gunnes (February 6, 1899 – March 11, 2003) was the last surviving American veteran of the Polar Bear Expedition, part of the intervention by the allied forces in the Russian Civil War.


After graduating from a high school in Barnesville, Minnesota, in 1917, Gunnes enlisted in the Navy. He was assigned to the cruiser Olympia (C-6), which escorted troop transports across the Atlantic. When the ship was sent to Arkhangelsk, in northern Russia, in August 1918, about 50 men from her, including Gunnes, were attached to the Army's 339th Infantry Regiment.[1]

Gunnes was issued with an American-made M1891 Mosin–Nagant rifle, and in September his unit travelled up the Dvina River on barges. About 200 miles from the coast they engaged Bolshevik troops around the village of Seletsko, driving them out. However, the Russians regrouped and flanked the Americans, who were forced to retreat. Gunnes eventually returned to the Olympia, and sailed for England in November 1918.[1]

After the war Gunnes opened a hardware store in Minnesota, before moving to Hillsboro, Oregon, in 1951. He had two sons, three stepchildren, and 17 grandchildren.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Kramer, Andrew/Associated Press (August 14, 2001). "Centenarian Is Last Veteran Of Only U.S.-Russia War" (PDF). The St. Petersburg Times. p. 2. Retrieved October 22, 2012. 

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