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Granlund proud of dad's service

| Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
Chris Buckley | The Valley Independent
Arthur A. Granlund of Fairhope, holds a framed copy of a profile of his father, Arthur L. 'Rip' Granlund, which has hung on the wall of his home since it was published in The Valley Independent in 2005. Recently, a group photo of six members of the 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment, including the elder Granlund, was placed in the Southwestern Pennsylvania World War II Memorial in Pittsburgh. The same photo was featured in the 2005 story in The Valley Independent.

A seasoned World War II paratrooper, Arthur L. “Rip” Granlund spoke little about his service in front of his son, Arthur A. Granlund.

So his son naturally thought his dad's nickname was a reference to him pulling the ripcord of his parachute, presumably during one of the four battle jumps he made during the war. That was until he discovered a family letter that revealed that his father had received the nickname during his youth, long before joining the service.

Arthur A. Granlund – who received the nickname “Ripper” in honor of his father – has a collection of photos, letters and discharge papers that have helped him to understand the service his father rarely spoke of, except with a few close battle-hardened friends.

Now proof of that service can be found in West 23 of the Southwestern Pennsylvania World War II Memorial in Pittsburgh, opened late last year.

“Rip” Granlund was born in Fairhope in 1916, just a few years after his parents emigrated from Finland. Viktor and Hannah Granlund never spoke English.

“Rip” Granlund dropped out of school while in the sixth grade to work in the coal mines to help his family out. It was in the mines that he learned how to use dynamite. That explosives experience would serve him well in the service.

Drafted in April 1942, “Rip” Granlund volunteered for the Airborne. He served in the 82nd Airborne, 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment.

“Rip” Granlund made four battle jumps during the war.

He jumped into Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944. During the subsequent Battle of Grainges, the 82nd Airborne was outnumbered 10 to one, but successfully battled the SS troops.

“Rip” Granlund also jumped into the Rhineland and into the Ardennes Forest during the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944.

In 1945, he jumped into central Europe, breaking both of his ankles after getting caught up in a tree. Granlund laced up his boots tighter and continued marching. It was until three days later that he saw a medic.

“He was a helluva man, I'll tell you,” the younger Grandlund said of his father.

Last year, Arthur A. Granlund received notice that a photo of his father was being planned for use in the Southwestern Pennsylvania World War II Memorial. He signed a release for the photo, which contained “Rip” Granlund in a group of six paratroopers from his unit.

In December, dedication ceremonies were held for the memorial, erected on the North Shore. Arthur A. Granlund was unable to attend, but hopes to visit the memorial eventually.

“It gives me a great sense of pride to know he is featured there,” the son said.

But how would his father have reacted?

“He would have appreciated this,” Arthur A. Granlund said. “He would have been proud.”

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or cbuckley@tribweb.com.

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