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Bill proposes renaming section of M-26 for Karna

Courtesy of Brad Uren Pvt. Wesley Karna

State Rep. Greg Markkanen introduced a bill on Wednesday to rename a section of M-26 in Houghton County as the Private Wesley Karna Memorial Highway. Markkanen made the announcement in a press release.

“Pvt. Karna served his country bravely in its time of greatest need,” Markkanen said. “As a fellow veteran, I’m honored to introduce a bill to memorialize his service and sacrifice in the Painesdale and South Range communities.”

Wesley Vietti Karna was born Aug. 24, 1922, to Finnish immigrants Erick and Ida Kara, in Adams Township, Michigan, where he grew up on Academy Street, not far from the village of South Range. He left for the European Theater of Operations in early 1944 during World War II.

In April 1944, at the age of 21 years, Karna was a private in Company F, 362nd Regiment of the 91st U.S. Infantry Division. After initial training at Camp White, Oregon, the division had participated in the Oregon Maneuver combat exercise, the largest military field exercise conducted in the Pacific Northwest. In North Africa, the division underwent more training, at Arzew and Renan, French Morocco. In June, the division was sent to Italy as part of the Second Corps of the U.S. Fifth Army. Karna was a member of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 362nd Infantry Regiment, 91st Division, II Corps, Fifth U.S. Army.

On September 24, 1944, one month after his 22nd birthday, Karna was killed in action on the Gothic Line, in Northern Tuscany, in northern Italy. He was awarded the Purple Heart.

Karna’s remains came home in 1948. He is buried in Mountain View Cemetery, in South Range, on the same street where he grew up.

Markkanen’s release says the bill was referred to the House Transportation Committee.

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