In 1941 after he graduated from high school, Axelson got a job making machine guns. Afterwards he joined the military, one of the most significant parts of his life. In World War II Axelson was an Army Corps glider pilot. In the infamous Normandy invasion he flew a glider and helped secure Utah Beach. He was successful and partly thanks to him we celebrate D-Day.
In January of 1946 Axelson was discharged from the Army in northern New York. In six days he hitchhiked all the way from New York to California.