Commanding Officer 511th PIR
Aug 18, 1907 - Feb 22, 1945 (KIA Age 37) - gravesite - US 6th Army letter RE: Orin's burial in San Francisco
Citations: Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Air Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge
Unit Nickname: "Hard Rock" or "Rock"
Ranks: Began attending West Point July 1, 2916; commissioned 2nd Lieutenant on June 12, 1930; 1st Lieutenant August 1, 1935; Captain June 12, 1940; Major February 1, 1942; Lieutenant Colonel September 25, 1942; Colonel June 2, 1943
Orin D. Haugen was born Aug. 18, 1907, Wyndemere, N.D. He attended St. Olaf College, then Cornell College in 1925. In 1930, Orin was commissioned 2nd Lt., U.S. Military Academy at West Point, then assigned to Fort Snelling, MI. June 1, 1931, married Marion Sergeant, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. W.E. Sergeant, Minneapolis, MN. One son, William. The couple are active in the horse shows at Twin Cities. Orin became a good polo player, and enthusiastically rode to the hounds on fox hunts. He continued to follow these interests all during his service.
In 1933, Orin was ordered to the 21st Infantry, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. In 1936, attended Regular Course, Infantry School, Fort Benning, GA., then joined the 23rd Infantry, Fort Sam Houston, TX. While with the 32nd Infantry, Fort Ord, CA, 1940, the War Department requested officers for parachute training. He was among the first to volunteer for this hazardous duty.
Captain Haugen was assigned as Commander of Company "A" of the 501st Parachute Battalion, the first tactical Parachute unit created by the War Department. He joined the unit on Nov. 16, 1940, in the morning, and that afternoon made his first parachute jump. The Major then served as Battalion Commander, 502nd PIR, then Executive Officer, 505th PIR.
In the late 1942, Lt. Col. Haugen was assigned Commander, 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment, then being activated at Toccoa, GA. A few months later, he was promoted to Colonel. He often shouted encouragement to his troopers. "YOU ARE THE BEST." Later, they proved it in combat.
During vigorous training at Camp Mackall, NC, Col. Haugen earned the nickname "Hard Rock" derived from his stern discipline combined with respect and affection. This was a true tribute to his durability. The "Rock" was immensely proud of his tough, young paratroopers, whose average age was just under 19 years. The deeds of Col. Haugen in combat will be published in later columns on the Leyete and Luzon Campaigns, Philippines. He was mortally wounded in action 13 February 1945 at Manila and on 22 February 1945 died of wounds in the Army hospital on Biak Island. He is survived by his son, William Haugen Light, Ph.D., Redding, CA.
Orin was a brave and gallant soldier. His constant unselfish devotion to duty was an inspiration to all who knew and served with him. His memory will live always in the hearts of his family and many friends.
When asked what commendations Orin had received, Hard Rock's old West Point classmate Lt. Col. Robert Allen Ports responded: "(He) should have had everything the Army could give him."