Staff Sgt. Emil Raninen was born in Michigan in 1916, attended high school and technical college there, and entered the Army in the spring of 1941.
Following training as an infantryman and ordnanceman, he was assigned to 732nd Light Maintenance Company of the 32nd Infantry Division.
By the fall of 1942, he found himself in New Guinea during the bitter fighting for the strategic Pacific island. In December 1942, he volunteered to go into "no man's land" under enemy fire to determine the manufacture of three enemy antiaircraft guns, count the ammunition for these weapons, dismantle them, and bring back their breechblocks.
In the course of this mission, he killed several enemy personnel. For this exploit, he was awarded the Silver Star. On a later occasion, on Saidor beachead, he and several buddies captured and repaired a Japanese machine gun and used it against enemy planes during a raid. He also captured enemy personnel following seizure of Saidor by American forces.
For 14 months, toward the end of the war, he served as an artillery repair instructor at the Ordnance School, Aberdeen Proving Ground. He returned to civilian life following World War II.
Sergeant Raninen's distinguished combat service epitomizes the outstanding accomplishments of the ordnancemen attached to the 32nd Division, whose record is among the most noteworthy in the annals of the U.S. Army.