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Seaman 1st Class Herman J. Lisser
Seaman 1st Class Herman J. Lisser August 22, 1945, Wisconsin State Journal

Stories Behind The Stars

A series that honors more than 421,000 Americans that lost their lives in World War II. 

Fallen soldiers from Lafayette County are currently being highlighted in the Monroe Times. For Green County, see the archives at

To learn more about the project, visit

During WWII, the USS Jean Nicollet was built in Portland, Oregon in October of 1943. It was a part of the War Shipping Administration. On May 12, 1944 the ship left California with 100 men including merchant crew, naval armed guards, and 31 passengers who were army and navy men. They had a shipment of war materials bound for the China/Burma/ India theater of war. They stopped in Australia and left Fremantle on June 21 heading to Ceylon.

On July 2, 1944 the ship was hit by two torpedoes fired by Japanese submarine I-8. The Japanese submarine crew captured survivors and tortured and killed 76 men; 24 men survived; five became POWs; and 19 were rescued by a British ship, but only one man survived the war.

Lafayette and Green County sailor, Seaman 1st class Herman Lisser served on the USS Jean Nicollet. 

Herman John Lisser was born in Lafayette County, Wisconsin on Oct. 7, 1916 to Ernest and Anna (Kaiser) Lisser.

From the 1920 and 1930 U.S. Census, the Lisser family lived in Wayne Township, Lafayette County, Wisconsin. The household included father Ernest, mother Annie, and children Anna (Matilda), Fred, Herman, Lilian, Rosy, Alice, Ernest Jr. and Edna. Father Ernest was a farmer in the stock farming industry.

On Dec. 2, 1939 Herman John Lisser married Myrtle Eleanor Berget in South Wayne in Lafayette County. 

From the 1940 U.S. Census, Herman and Myrtle Lisser lived in Cadiz Township in Green County with John Leuenberger, a farmer. Herman was a farm laborer. Myrtle was a housekeeper working for a private family.

On Oct. 16, 1940 Herman John Lisser registered for the WWII Draft. He resided in Cadiz in Green County and worked for Browntown Silica Company. 

On June 12, 1943 Herman enlisted in the U.S. Navy in Milwaukee.

From the July 28, 1944 Wisconsin State Journal article titled “Herman Lisser Listed Missing: Theater of Action Not Yet Disclosed,” the article stated “Herman John Lisser, 28, seaman first class, has been listed as missing in action, the war department has informed his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Lisser, Sr. Woodford, and his wife, the former Myrtle Eleanor Berget...”

From the Dec. 21, 1945 The Capital Times article “Memorial Rites for H. J. Lisser Are on Sunday,” the news from Argyle was “Memorial services for Herman J. Lisser, seaman, 1st class, who was reported missing in action July 3, 1944, in the South Pacific, will be held … in the West Wiota Lutheran church…

Lisser … was given special armed guard naval training at Gulfport, Miss., and then sent to Oakland, Calif., where he was assigned as a guard on the ship, Jean Nicollet…

Lisser’s ship was hit by enemy fire on July 2, 1944. All crew members abandoned ship and were ordered on the deck of a Japanese submarine which had fired the fatal torpedoes. Each man was stripped of his life jacket and valuables and bound with his hands behind his back. Later the submarine crash dived at the approach of Allied planes with the men still on deck. Some crew members were rescued, but Lisser was not among them...

Surviving Mr. Lisser are his wife and one son; his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Lisser, Woodford; five sisters, Mrs. Arthur Studer, Monticello; Mrs. Harold Stoll, Monroe; Mrs. Lyle Kahl, Woodford; Mrs. Kenneth Mayer, Browntown; and Mrs. F. Berg, Woodford; and two brothers, Fred, Freeport; and Ernest, at home.”

The family placed a memorial marker for Lisser at West Wiota Lutheran Cemetery in Gratiot in Lafayette County. Lisser is also memorialized at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in Manila, Philippines. He received the Purple Heart, awarded posthumously.

Thank you, Seaman 1st class, Herman John Lisser, for your service to and ultimate sacrifice for our country. We honor you and remember you.