ARLINGTON, Minn. (WCCO) – On December 7th, 1941 news traveled fast of the attack on Pearl Harbor. But St. Paul’s Edwin Tjosvold witnessed it firsthand.
“Actually he didn’t talk about it much, but we found out things, certain things,” said Laura Kicker, Tjosvold’s daughter. Kicker’s father was there, on guard duty when the Japanese planes got there. At first he thought they were American pilots doing a practice run.
“The first one kind of got past him, but by the time the second one came through, I guess they knew what was going on and he kind of explained it like, everybody’s knees were weak on the first one, but that didn’t last long and on the second one, they really gave it to ‘em,” remembered Kicker.
Tjosvold’s fellow soldier Platt Walker wrote about the experience: “My pal ‘Chopper’ Tjosvold was the first to come in for more ammunition. We later gave him credit for firing the first American rounds of World War II.”
It was a claim backed by the Pioneer Press in a 1941 article. But over 60 years later, the first first official American shots fired was credited to another St. Paul man, Alan Sanford, who aided in sinking a mini-submarine before the planes appeared.
Tjosvold left the Army in 1946. Then moved to Arlington three years later, where he quickly became a fixture in the community, serving as a mortician, a volunteer fireman, and owner of a furniture store.
“Yeah he was a good man. He fought for his country and this was part of it,” said Kicker.