This page contains the stories of servicemen killed in action in the Pacific Theater of Operation (PTO) in World War II. This includes those killed in the South Pacific, Central Pacific and China-India-Burma Theaters. I have divided the World War II section into European and Pacific Theater sections because of the size a scope of the war. In all, almost 400,000 Americans were killed in action during World War II. American involvement officially lasted from 7 December 1941 to September 1945, even though US forces were fighting and dying both before and after these dates.
During World War II, the regulations surrounding the Purple Heart and the medal itself changed greatly. In 1942, the government expanded the criteria for awarding the medal to those killed in action retroactive to 7 December 1941. They also allowed members of all branches of the U.S. military to be eligible for the award, not just the Army. Finally, the provision allowing the Purple Heart to be awarded for Meritorious Service, was removed and the Purple Heart truly became a medal awarded to those who were wounded or killed in the service of their country.
Because of the number of wounded and killed during the war, the way the Purple Heart was manufactured and distributed also changed. After the initial 600,000 medals were constructed after 1932, the Purple Heart was no longer serial numbered along a side rim. The purple center of the medals changed from a painted and/or enamel center to a plastic center during this period as well. As the various services ordered Purple Heart medals to be manufactured by separate contracts, in many cases the construction methods used to manufacture the Purple Heart is different between medals awarded by the Army and those awarded by the Navy and Marine Corps, especially before 1944-1945.
The practice of engraving the Purple Hearts also changed during this period. The government stopped automatically engraving the name of the person on the reverse of the Purple Heart for those wounded in action. Only those people who were killed in action had their medals engraved before being sent to the next-of-kin. As with difference in the manufacturing of the medal among the services, the style of engraving varied between the Army and that of the Navy and Marine Corps. The Army engraved the name of the person only on the reverse of the medal, while the Navy/Marine Corps engraved the person's name, rank and branch of service, often in elaborate styles. One can spend a lot of time just researching the artistic qualities used in the medals manufacturing and engraving during World War II.
It should be noted that in preparation for the Invasion of Japan in 1945-1946 and the horrific number of casualties the U.S. expected to suffer that the government placed an large order for the manufacture of new Purple Heart medals. The order was so large, that when the invasion was called off because of the dropping of the Atomic Bomb and the surrender of Japan, that the United States did not need to exhaust this supply of medals until the end of the Vietnam War almost 30 years later.
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Lt. Arnold's Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal and Purple Heart.
|2nd Lt. Rex D. Arnold, O-684459, B-24J, Co-Pilot, 374th Bomb Squadron, 308th Bomb Group, 14th Air Force. Killed in Action on 26 May 1944 when his aircraft his the side of a mountain in bad weather while on a Radar Reconnaissance mission from Chengkung airfield, China to Hainan Island in the South China Sea. Born on 11 February 1922, he entered the service on 26 June 1943 from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. |
2nd Lt. Arnold served in the China-India-Burma Theater as the Co-Pilot of B-24 #42-100040. The 308th Bomb Group was based in China and supported Chinese ground forces, and attacked Japanese shipping. On 26 May 1944, Lt. Arnold's aircraft took off from Chengkung Airfield. Approximately one hour into the mission, the aircraft crashed about 50 miles south of Mengtze, China near the present day border of Vietnam. Eyewitnesses report that the aircraft crashed into the side of the Morshih Kou Shan mountain near the villages of Na Fa and Ta Shen as it apparently was attempting to get under the poor weather. Because the aircraft was carrying extra fuel tanks in the bomb bays, the aircraft exploded with such force that only small traces of the aircraft were ever recovered. 2nd Lt. Arnold's body was never recovered and he was pronounced dead on 27 May 1945. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal and Purple Heart.
He is listed on the Tablet of the Missing at Fort Bonifacio Military Cemetery, Manila, Philippine Islands. He was 23 years old.
Lt. Rex Arnold in a 1944 newspaper photograph.
Lt. Arnold's name on the Tablet of the Missing at the Fort Bonifacio Military Cemetery.
T/5 Bacon's Purple Heart.
|T/5 Owen W. Bacon, 36429683, Combat Medic, Medical Detachment, 383rd Infantry Regiment, 96th Infantry Division. Killed in Action on 11 April 1945 by shrapnel wounds to his left arm and chest near Kakazu, Okinawa. Born on 13 May 1921, he entered the service on 5 October 1942 from Shirley, Illinois. |
T/5 Bacon and the 96th Infantry Division landed unopposed on Okinawa on 1 April 1945. The peaceful period on the island did not last long and soon the 96th Infantry Division were taking heavy casualties attacking Kazaku Ridge, a 280 foot high ridge defended by 1,200 Japanese troops, on 9 April. This heavily fortified and fiercely defended ridge caused heavy casualties for the Americans as a deep gorge, which could only be climbed with great difficulty, separated the US infantry from the Japanese defenders on the ridge. The initial US attacks, made without tank or artillery support, were repelled by the Japanese. The 96th Infantry Attacked again the next day suffering heavy casualties again. During the attacks on 11 April, T/5 Bacon was killed in action.
T/5 Bacon was awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious achievement in connection with military operations against the enemy on Leyte from 20 October 1944 to 31 January 1945.
He is buried at the East Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, Bloomington, Illinois. He was 23 years old.
T/5 Bacon's headstone at East Lawn Memorial Cemetery. (Photo courtesy of Tony Cannon.)
Cpl. Bailey's Purple Heart.
|Cpl. Chester A. Bailey, 33061021, 803rd Engineer Battalion, Aviation, Far Eastern Air Force. Killed in Action on 9 April 1942 at Bataan, Philippine Islands. Born on 14 November 1915, he entered the service from Baltimore, Maryland. |
Cpl. Bailey's date of death is surrounded in some uncertainty as there are conflicting dates and circumstances in his files. In the IDPF, he is listed as dying of wounds on 9 April 1942, the day that Bataan surrendered to the Japanese. According to the American Battle Monuments Commission, his date of death is given as 9 October 1942, suggesting that he died either on the Death March or in a Japanese POW Camp. Finally, the US National Archives' Prisoner of War Files list that Bailey was a POW and died in a camp. It is hoped that further research will disclose if he died of wounds before the surrender, was killed by Japanese soldiers on the day of the surrender (9 April 1942), or if he died as a Japanese prisoner either on or following the Death March.
He is listed on the Tablet of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippines. He was 25 years old.
Cpl. Chester Bailey
(Photo courtesy of JD Hannum.)
Sgt. Barry's Air Medal and Purple Heart.
|Sgt. John T. Barry, 16141602, Gunner on B-29, "Z Square 8," "St. Bernard," 881st Bomb Squadron, 500th Bomb Group (VH), 20th Air Force. Killed in Action on 17 March 1945 over Kobe, Japan when they were rammed by a Japanese "Tony" fighter. Born on 24 November 1920, he entered the service on 19 October 1942 from Chicago, Illinois. |
On 17 March 1945, the crew of Major Robert J. Fitzgerald's B-29 was on a mission to bomb Kobe, Japan. Major Fitzgerald and the rest of the crew departed the U.S. on 6 November 1944 and arrived on Saipan on 10 November 1944. They made their first raid of the war on Tokyo, Japan (reported by the co-pilot to be the first B-29 raid of the war on Tokyo) on 24 November 1944. The number of missions grew until the fateful night of 16-17 March 1945.
Sgt. Barry's aircraft took off with 330 other B-29s to bomb Kobe, Japan at night. The high level bombers had been experiencing a new, strange, high level winds, which would later be called the Jet Stream for the first time. During the nighttime raid, the B-29s were attacked by Japanese "Tony" fighters of the 56th Sentai. Sgt. Barry's aircraft was attacked by the fighter piloted by Capt. Junichi Ogata. Ogata was a veteran pilot with 8 bomber kills as a member of the 77th Sentai stationed in Burma, and 4 B-29 kills, and 5 damaged in defense of Japan. His wife had just given birth to a baby girl at the time of the raid.
Caught in two searchlight's the B-29 of Sgt. Barry was rammed by Capt. Ogata. The other Japanese pilot's claim this was an accident as there was no suicide orders for them and Capt. Ogata was an experienced pilot. The B-29 crashed into an American POW camp about 2 miles outside of Kobe at 0400 hours. A Franciscan Priest, Father Marcian Pellet, held in the camp, witnessed the crash as the tail assembly separated from the body of the aircraft and crashed into a nearby mountain. Only two members of the crew survived the crash, Lt. Robert W. Nelson and S/Sgt. Algy Stanley Augunas. They were captured by the Japanese and convicted and sentenced to death in a two hour trial. The two airman were blindfolded and taken to an army training ground were the were forced to sit before their graves. Two Japanese soldiers decapitated the two US Airman on the order of Capt. Kanji Nakamichi.
He is buried at the Holy Sepulcher Cemetery, Worth, Illinois. He was 22 years old.
Sgt. Barry is second from the right in the front row of the photograph at the right.
Sgt. Barry's crew photograph. He is second from the right in the front row.
Sgt. John Barry.
Sgt. Barry's B-29 "Z Square 8" on the runway.
Sgt. Barry's headstone at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery. (Photo courtesy of Queen Graver.)
S/Sgt. Bender's Air Medal and Purple Heart.
S/Sgt. Leo R. Bender, 32944700, Gunner, B-24M, serial #44-41869, 394th Bomb Squadron, 5th Bomb Group, 13th Air Force. Killed in Action on 30 April 1945 while on a combat mission over Davao, Mindanao, Philippine Islands, when his aircraft collided with another B-24, serial #44-41541, and crashed into the sea. Born on 7 January 1923, he entered the service on 16 September 1943 from Utica, New York.
S/Sgt. Bender's aircraft was piloted by 1st Lt. Benjamin R. Whiteker. The pilot of the other aircraft was 1st Lt. Benjamin B. Smith. Only two bodies was ever recovered from the two aircraft, with only one being identified.
He is listed on the Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippine Islands. He was 22 years old.
S/Sgt. Bender's crew. Lt. Benjamin Whiteker is standing at the far right. S/Sgt. Bender is front row, third from the left.
S/Sgt. Leo R. Bender.
1st Lt. Berry's Purple Heart.
|1st Lt. John J. Berry, O-1307938, Special Service Officer, Headquarters Company, 96th Infantry Division. Died of Wounds on 24 April 1945 at Futema, Okinawa. Born on 24 February 1914, he entered the service on 3 June 1942 from Spencer, Iowa. |
Lt. Berry entered the service as an enlisted man in June 1942. He was commissioned as an officer on 14 January 1943. It is not known how Lt. Berry was killed. He died from multiple shrapnel fragments wounds according to his records. His Bronze Star medal citations claims that in addition to working as the Special Service Officer, Lt. Berry also worked in the G-3 office (Operations), making frequent trips to the front lines. Its possible he was wounded while serving in this capacity.
Following his death, he was temporarily buried at the 96th Infantry Division's cemetery on Okinawa. Several facilities at the division's bases were named in honor of Lt. Berry according to photographs that were sent home to his widow.
He is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. He was 31 years old and married.
Lt. Berry's wife receiving his Purple Heart.
The 96th Infantry Division's cemetery on Okinawa.
96th Infantry Division pool named after Lt. Berry.
Lt. Berry's headstone at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. (Photo courtesy of Cal Hutton.)
Pvt. Boxley's Purple Heart.
Pvt. Otto N. Boxley, 822790, Company E, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. Killed in Action on 7 June 1945 on Okinawa. Born on 8 January 1917, he entered the Marine Corps on 6 May 1944 from Kaw, Oklahoma.
Pvt. Boxley fought on Okinawa from 1 April 1945 until his death on 7 June. Fighting on Okinawa was some of the heaviest and most brutal in the always brutal Pacific Theater. Pvt. Boxley's unit was engaged at the Shuri castle and then slugged their way to the southern most tip of the island. On about 21 May 1945, Pvt. Boxley's unit was pulled back to a rest area to refit until moving back into the line on 1 June. According to a letter from a fellow Marine in Otto's unit written to his widow, Pvt. Boxley was hit by a Japanese machine gun in the left hand, shoulder and back at 4:00 PM. He was carried for immediately with morphine and at least 2 transfusions but died from his wounds at about 10:30 that night. He was survived by his widow and young son.
He is buried at the Dice Cemetery, Fairview, Missouri. He was 28 years old.
Pvt. Otto Boxley portrait.
Pvt. Otto Boxley in wartime photograph.
Pvt. Boxley's headstone at Dice Cemetery. (Photo courtesy of Findagrave.com.)
Pvt. Bregante's Purple Heart.
Pvt. Leo J. Bregante, 39110583, Company "K," 184th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. Killed in Action on 29 January 1945 on Poro Island, Philippine Islands. Born on 29 March 1911, he entered service on 20 October 1942 from Santa Barbara, California.
It is not known when Pvt. Bregante joined Company "K," although he was in the service long enough to see action with the Regiment on Kwajalein Atoll in February 1944. Perhaps he joined the company as a replacement in September 1944 while they refit in Hawaii and prepared for the liberation of the Philippine Islands.
The Division landed on Leyte Island on 20 October 1944 and fought there until 24 December 1944 when it began a series of landing on the smaller islands of Ponson on 15 January 1945 and Poro Island on 19 January 1945 during the Camotes Islands Campaign. It was during this landing that Pvt. Bregante was killed by multiple gun shot wounds.
He is buried at Calvary Cemetery, Santa Barbara, California. He was 33 years old.
Pvt. Bregante's headstone at Calvary Cemetery.
Sgt. Butorac's Purple Heart.
|Sgt. Frank J. Butorac, 39192476, Company B, 306th Infantry Regiment, 77th Infantry Division. Killed in Action on 30 May 1945 at the Shuri Castle on Okinawa by a gun shot wound to the back. Born on 6 June 1922, he entered the service on 17 October 1942 from Aberdeen, Washington. |
The fighting on Okinawa was some of the most brutal of the war on any Front. The fighting at the Shuri Castle was among the most brutal of the Okinawa Campaign. Sgt. Butorac had received the Combat Infantryman's Badge before his death.
He is buried at the Fern Hill Cemetery, Aberdeen, Washington. He was 22 years old.
Sgt. Butorac's headstone at Fern Hill Cemetery.
ARM2c Carter's Purple Heart.
Aviation Radioman 2nd Class Arthur D. Carter, 7064889, Radioman, Avenger Torpedo Bomber, Torpedo Squadron 24, Air Group 24, U.S.S. Belleau Woods. Killed in Action on 29 April 1944 when his Torpedo Bomber was shot down during a raid on Truk. Born on 23 December 1922, he entered the service on 19 August 1942 from Bronx, New York.
Before the war, Arthur Carter worked as a clerk. He enlisted in the Navy at 19 years old and following training was assigned as an Aviation Radioman in Scouting Squadron 24 on 31 December 1942. On 1 March 1943 this squadron became Composite Squadron 24 (VC-24) where it joined the U.S.S. Belleau Woods on 30 April 1943 before becoming Torpedo Squadron 24 (VT-24) on 15 December 1943. ARM3c Carter completed three months of air crew train on board the carrier and earned his Aircrewman Insignia on 16 July 1943. He completed another important milestone for a sailor when the U.S.S. Belleau Wood crossed the equator on 1 September 1943 and ARM3c Carter became a qualified "Shellback."
As a radioman on a Torpedo Bomber, Carter participated in raids on Tarawa Island (16 September 1943), Wake Island (5 -6 October 1943), Makin Island (20 November 1943), Baker Island (1-2 September 1943), Marshall Islands (4 December 1943) and in their capture (29 January to 1 February 1944), Truk Island (16-17 February 1944), Saipan and Tinian (22 February 1944).
On 29 April 1944, ARM2c Carter was radioman on a Avenger Torpedo Bomber piloted by Lt.(jg). Ernest W. Wood, Jr. with AOM2c Robert B. Wagenknecht as the rear gunner. They were conducting a "glide bombing" mission on Truk Island. Flying threw intense Japanese anti-aircraft fire, their aircraft was seen to have released its bombs before beginning to smoke. The plane then crashed into the sea at a 35 degree angle. No survivors were located.
ARM2c Carter's body was never recovered and is listed on the Tablet of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippines. He was 21 years old.
ARM2c Arthur Carter.
ARM2c. Carter's ship, the U.S.S. Belleau Woods. (National Archives Photo.)
Pvt. Crosett's Purple Heart.
|Pvt. William R. Crosett, Jr., 11119702, Company "I," 382nd Infantry Regiment, 96th Infantry Division. Killed in Action on 2 November 1944 near Luwan, Leyte Island, Philippines by multiple shrapnel wounds caused by a mine. Born on 23 August 1924, he entered the service on 14 December 1942 from East Lansing, Michigan. |
On 2 November 1944, the 382nd Infantry Regiment attacked towards "Bloody Ridge" west of Dagami. The entire Division had landed on Leyte on 20 October 1944 and had been engaged since that time.
He is buried at the Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippines. He was 20 years old.
Pvt. Crosett's headstone at the Manila-American Cemetery.
T/5 Denny's Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
|T/5 Kenneth R. Denny, 35158795, HQ Battery, 163rd Field Artillery Battalion, 38th Infantry Division. Killed in Action on 11 May 1945 by a gun shot wound to the left side of the head at Marikina, Rizal, Philippines. Born on 26 September 1919, he entered the service on 17 April 1941 from Richmond, Indiana.|
He is buried at the Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippine Islands. He was 25 years old and married.
T/5 Denny's headstone at the Manila American Cemetery.
T/5 Egbert's Purple Heart.
|T/5 Raymond J. Egbert, 32159068, Battery B, 1st Field Army Battalion, 6th Infantry Division. Killed in Action on 28 March 1945 by a shell fragment to the left side of his neck at Novaliches, Rizal, Philippines. Born on 2 September 1918, he entered the service on 10 July 1941 from Newark, New Jersey.|
T/5 Egbert is buried at the Manila American Cemetery, Fort Bonifacio, Manila, Philippine Islands. He was 26 years old and married.
Pfc. Fisher's Purple Heart.
Pfc. Donald J. Fisher, 32261845, Battery B, 305th Field Artillery Battalion, 77th Infantry Division. Died of Wounds on 27 May 1945 at US Fleet Hospital #115, Guam. He had been wounded by multiple shell fragments to his back and stomach and had a fractured hand on 12 May 1945 on Okinawa. Born on 2 December 1915, he entered the service on 23 March 1942 from Newark, New Jersey.
He is buried in New Jersey. He was 29 years old and married.
Pfc. Donald Fisher in a newspaper photograph.
Pfc. Fisher's headstone at Arlington National Cemetery.
Cpl. Ford's Purple Heart.
Cpl. William G. Ford, 6914129, 48th Material Squadron, U.S. Army Air Corps. Killed in Action on 17 April 1942 at Bataan, Luzon, Philippine Islands. Born on 23 March 1923, he entered the service before May 1940 from Lima, Ohio.
Cpl. Ford was assigned to the 48th Material Squadron when the war began on 8 December 1941 in the Philippine Islands. American units fought desperately in the early stages of the war, but were outnumbered, had little food, water and ammunition, and were decimated by disease. By the time of the surrender of Bataan on 9 April 1942, the two Hospitals at Bataan, General Hospital #1 and General Hospital #2, each had over 5.000 patients, despite only having room for 1,000. General Hospital #2 in fact was hardly a Hospital at all in that it had no tents or buildings. It was totally in the open with only a canopy of trees sheltering the patients, most of whom suffered from disease. Cpl. Ford was listed as a patient in General Hospital #2 at the time of his death on 17 April 1942. His cause of death is officially listed as Inanition, which means "a loss of the will to live," which was brought about by dehydration and malnutrition among of ailments. Apparently, this was a common cause of death in those dark days, when medicine, food, and water supply were exhausted and these servicemen suffered in the blazing heat of the Philippines, and under the brutal treatment of the Japanese, who began the Bataan Death March on 10 April 1942, with many P.O.W.s from General Hospital #2 being marched off on 12 April 1942.
He is buried at the Memorial Park Cemetery, Lima, Ohio. He was 19 years old.
Cpl. William Ford in a 1943 newspaper photograph.
Cpl. Ford's headstone at Memorial Park Cemetery.
Col. Ford's marker at the Cemetery.
Pvt. Foster's Purple Heart.
|Pvt. Walter C. Foster, 33536730, Company F, 172nd Infantry Regiment, 43rd Infantry Divsion. Killed in Action on 25 July 1943 by a gun shot wound to the head at Munda, New Georgia. He was born on 3 August 1922 in Virginia.|
He is buried at the Winchester National Cemetery, Winchester, Virginia. He was 20 years old.
Pfc. Glover's Purple Heart.
|Pfc. Robert L. Glover, 37633580, Company G, 105th Infantry Regiment, 27th Infantry Division. Killed in Action on 3 May 1945 on Okinawa. Born on 17 November 1920, he entered the service on 31 January 1944 from Stoddard, Missouri.|
He is buried at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri. He was 24 years old and married.
Pfc. Glover's headstone at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri.
(Photo courtesy of Eric Kreft.)
Pfc. Gould's Purple Heart.
|Pfc. Robert F. Gould, 31299380, 5307th Composite Infantry Unit (Provision), Merrill's Marauders. Killed in Action on 14 June 1944 near Myitkyina, Burma. Born on 18 February 1924, he entered the service on 24 February 1943 from Fairfield County, Connecticut. |
He is buried at the Oak Grove Cemetery, Medford, Massachusetts. He was 20 years old and survived by his parents.
Pfc. Gould's headstone at Oak Grove Cemetery.
(Photo courtesy of Bob Boston.)
Cpl. Greene's Purple Heart.
|Cpl. Max L. Greene, 13069065, Radio Operator, C-47A "Jeanne" #43-16015, 317th Troop Carrier Squadron, 40th Troop Carrier Group, 5th Air Force. Killed in Action on 10 February 1945 when his aircraft was shot down near Nichols Field, Leyte, Phillipines. Born on 25 April 1922, he entered the service on 23 April 1942 from Roaring Springs, Pennsylvania. |
Cpl. Greene's aircraft was piloted by Flight Officer David G. Jolly. The crew was cited as an experienced crew in the Missing Air Crew Report and is listed as carrying supplies and six enlisted personnel when it disappeared. Due to their experience, Cpl. Greene took part in the dropping of airborne troops to seize the highway routes south of Manila on 3-4 February 1945 as well as other operations. On 10 February 1945, Cpl. Greene's aircraft was flying a combat mission (cargo) to Luzon from Leyte (Dulag strip). At approximately 1000 hours, a C-47 was observed by members of the 11th Airborne Division, to crash near Nichols Field, which was still in Japanese hands, as a result of Japanese anti-aircraft fire. The 11th Airborne Division later captured Nichols Field and recovered the completely demolished C-47 with 10 bodies.
He is buried at the Greenlawn Cemetery, Roaring Springs, Pennsylvania. He was 22 years old.
Cpl. Greene's headstone at the Greenlawn Cemetery.
S/Sgt. Haklo's Purple Heart.
|S/Sgt. William A. Haklo, 13009645, Company G, 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. Killed in Action on 5 May 1945 at Balete Pass, Luzon, Philippine Islands. Born on 6 April 1921, he entered the service on 2 August 1940 from Ellwood City, Pennsylvania. |
He participated in the Regiment's actions in New Georgia from 1 August 1943 to the end of the Central Solomon campaign on 6 October 1943. He received the Combat Infantryman's Badge on 19 April 1944 for these actions. The 25th Infantry Division spent the next few months in New Zealand until the landings on Luzon on 20 October 1944.
The 27th Infantry Regiment began the assault on the Caraballo Mountains on 21 February 1945. S/Sgt. Haklo was killed in action leading his squad to the south of Lone Tree Hill, near Balete Pass, Luzon on 5 May 1945. He was shot in the chest by a Japanese machine gun and died of his wounds and shock.
He is buried at the Long Island National Cemetery, Farmingdale, New York. He was 24 years old.
S/Sgt. Haklo's headstone at the Long Island National Cemetery.
Pfc. Hans' Purple Heart.
|Pfc. Charles J. Hans, 33392240, Company A, 102nd Engineer Combat Battalion, 27th Infantry Division. Killed in Action on 11 July 1944 on Siapan. Born on 21 September 1922 (some records show his date of birth as 26 November 1921), he entered the service on 7 October 1942 from Verona, Pennsylvania. |
He is listed on the tablet of the missing on the Honolulu, Memorial, Honolulu, Hawaii although photographic evidence shows he was buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii. He was 21 years old.
Pfc. Hans' headstone at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.
Pvt. Hickmon's Purple Heart.
|Pvt. Ralph E. Hickmon, 39481304, 34th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division. Killed in Action on 11 June 1945 at Mindanao, Philippine Islands by shrapnel wounds. Born in Fairmount, Nebraska on 19 April 1917, he entered the service in November 1944 from Portland Oregon, where he had been working in a shipyard since 1942. |
He is buried at the Lincoln Memorial Park Cemetery in Portland, Oregon. He was survived by his wife and two sons. He was 28 years old.
Pvt. Ralph Hickmon in a newspaper photograph.
Pvt. Ralph Hickmon in a pre-service photograph.
Pvt. Ralph Hickmon in a pre-service photograph with one of his sons.
Ralph Hickmon and his family.
(Photo courtesy of Cameron Hickmon.)
Sgt. Illiscavitch's Purple Heart.
|Sgt. Joseph A. Illiscavitch, 11008348, 698th Ordnance Company, Aviation, Army Air Corps. Killed in Action on 24 October 1944 when the Japanese "Hellship" Arisan Maru, on which he was a prisoner, was sunk by the USS Shark (SS-314) in the Bashi Straits, South China Sea. He entered the service from Barre, Massachusetts.|
Sgt. Illiscavitch was captured by the Japanese during the fall of the Philippines in 1942. He was held in Camp O'Donnel before being loaded onto the Japanese transport ship, the Arisan Maru for transport to Japan. The conditions on these ships were so bad that they have been dubbed "Hellships." The Arisan Maru was suck in the South China Sea on 24 October 1944, probably by the US submarine USS Shark with 1,800 US Prisoners of War crammed into her holds. According to reports from the US survivors, almost all of the prisoners were able to abandon the ship before sinking. Many of the prisoners swam to nearby Japanese destroyers only to be beaten back into the water with poles. Only five Americans were believed to have survived and returned to the United States.
Sgt. Illiscavitch is memorialized on the Tablet of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery, Fort Bonifacio, Manila, Philippines.
Pfc. Jefferson's Purple Heart.
|Pfc. Edwin T. Jefferson, 36575037, Company I, 1st Infantry Regiment, 6th Infantry Division. Died of Wounds on 27 February 1945 at the 71st Evacuation Hospital, San Mateo, Luzon, Philippine Islands. Born on 13 October 1923, he entered the service on 22 February 1943 from Detroit, Michigan.|
It is not yet known, when or where Pfc. Jefferson was wounded, but he died of a gun shot wound to the jaw at the 71st Evacuation Hospital on 27 February 1945. He was temporarily buried at the USAF Cemetery Manila No. 1 at 0830 on 28 February.
He is buried at the Manila American Cemetery, Fort Bonifacio, Manila, Philippine Islands. He was 21 years old and married.
Pfc. Edwin Jefferson.
Another studio photo of Pfc. Jefferson.
Sgt. Johnson's Purple Heart.
|Sgt. William H. Johnson, 33381197, 855th Engineer Battalion, Aviation, Army Air Corps. Killed in Action on 11 November 1943 when his transport, the SS Cape San Juan, was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine near the Fiji Islands. Born on 8 August 1919, he entered the service on 27 October 1942 from Maryland. |
Sgt. Johnson was a member of the segregated 855th Engineer Battalion, Aviation. While in route to Australia, the transport ship in which he was traveling, was torpedoed by Japanese submarine I-21. Over 100 crew members and passengers were killed in the explosion and when they abandoned ship. The SS Cape San Juan stayed afloat until the next day, when it sank while under tow.
Sgt. Johnson's body was never recovered. He is listed on the Tablet of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery, Fort Bonifacio, Manila, Philippines and at the Baltimore National Cemetery, Baltimore, Maryland. He was 23 years old.
The SS Cape San Juan in 1943.
The SS Cape San Juan after being torpedoed by a Japanese submarine.
Sgt. Johnson's memorial headstone at the Baltimore National Cemetery, Baltimore, Maryland.
(Photo courtesy of L A Elliot.)
T/5 Juergen's Purple Heart.
|T/5 Herman F. Juergen, Jr., 38421140, Company A, 536th Amphibious Tractor Battalion, 7th Infantry Division. Killed in Action on 4 May 1945with multiple shrapnel wounds at Okinawa. Born on 6 November 1924, he entered the service on 16 April 1943 from Houston, Texas.|
T/5 Juergen died from multiple shrapnel wounds. His place of death is listed as USMC Evacuation Hospital #3 on Okinawa.
He is buried at Glenwood Cemetery, Houston, Texas. He was 20 years old.
Pfc. Kenney's Purple Heart.
|Pfc. Francis W. Kenney, 362437, Company K, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, UMSC. Died on Wounds on 24 September 1944 aboard the USS Solace from wounds received in action on 24 September 1944 at Peleiliu Island. Born on 18 January 1924, he enlisted on 19 January 1942 in Boston, Massachusetts. |
During the fighting on Peleiliu Island, Pfc. Kenney was hit by gun fire in the abdomen and died later that day from his wounds and shock. Pfc. Kenney was a veteran of Guadalcanal and Cape Gloucester.
He is buried at the Foresdale Cemetery, Holyoke, Massachusetts. He was 20 years old.
Pfc. Kenney's headstone at Foresdale Cemetery.
T/Sgt. Kolibowski's Purple Heart.
|T/Sgt. Edward Kolibowski, 16000555, Company F, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. Killed in Action on 18 December 1944 near Damulaan, Leyte, Philippines by a gunshot wound to the head. Born on 4 August 1921, he entered the service on 30 July 1940 from Chicago, Illinois. |
Sgt. Kolibowski was a veteran of the Battle of Kwajalein and is mentioned several times in S.L.A. Marshall's book "Island Victory: The Battle of Kwajalein Atoll." According to this book, Sgt. Kolibowski was severely wounded on D+4 by a Japanese knee mortar.
Sgt. Kolibowski was killed approximately 10 miles south of the Ormac Talisayan River near Damulaan, Leyte, Philippines.
He is buried at Rock Island National Cemetery, Rock Island, Illinois. He was 23 years old.
Sgt. Kolibowski. (Photo courtesy of Ancestry.com.)
Then Pvt. Kolibowski in early style uniform. (Photo courtesy of Ancestry.com.)
T/Sgt. Kolibowski's headstone at Rock Island National Cemetery.
(Photo courtesy of Denise Mortier.)
Pfc. Lee's Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal and Victory Medal.
|Pfc. Fred O. Lee, 35130755, Company E, 162nd Infantry Regiment, 41st Infantry Division. Killed in Action on 29 May 1944 near the Parai Area of Biak Island by a shrapnel fragment wound to the head and arms. Born on 15 December 1915, he entered the service on 20 October 1941 from Wilmington, Ohio. |
He is buried at the Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippines. He was 28 years old and married.
RT2c. Levin's Purple Heart, Victory Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and American Campaign Medal.
|RT2c. George B. Levin, 07260834, USS Harder (SS-257). Killed in Action on 24 August 1944 with all hands, when the USS Harder was sunk by a Japanese Mine Sweeper that had been converted to an anti-submarine ship near Caiman Point, and four miles off Hermana Major Island, Luzon, Philippines. Born on 1 October 1922, he entered the service on 23 November 1942 from Chicago, Illinois. |
The USS Harder, under the command of Commander S. D. Dealey, began its sixth war patrol on 5 August 1944 from Fremantle, Australia. The Harder was patrolling with several other US submarines. On 20 August 1944, a group of US submarines attacked a Japanese convoy of 16 ships, of which 4 were sunk totaling 22,000 tons. It is believed that the Harder sank one ship. On 21 August, the Harder and the USS Haddo sank the Hiburi, Sado and Matsuwa, Japanese coast defense vessels. Each submarine received credit for 1 1/2 ships.
On 24 August, the USS Hake was patrolling with the Harder when they sighted a three-stack Thai destroyer (the PHRA Ruang), and a converted minesweeper. The Harder's periscope was last seen by the Hale at 0647. The Japanese minesweeper pinged the Harder and dropped 15 depth charges. The USS Harder was never heard from again. This was RT2c Levin's first war patrol.
He is listed on the tablet of the missing at the Manila American Cemetery, Fort Bonifacio, Manila, Philippines. He was 21 years old and survived by his mother and father.
RT2c George B. Levin (Photo courtesy of OnEternalPatrol.com.)
RT2c. Levin's submarine, the U.S.S. Harder. (National Archives Photo.)
The U.S.S. Harder.
Pvt. Mc Master's Purple Heart.
|Pvt. Arnold R. Mc Master, 37315937, Company K, 172nd Infantry Regiment, 43rd Infantry Division. Killed in Action on 13 July 1943 on the Munda Trail in New Georgia by gun fire. Born on 24 April 1922, he entered the service from Pinewood, Minnesota.|
Pvt. Mc Master's regiment began operations to move on the Munda Airport on 9 July. The attack was conducted in dense jungle terrain and took almost a month to complete. Throughout the entire battle, the 172nd Infantry Regiment was engaged in constant combat with at least two of its battalions in the attacking echelon at any time. Supply problems dogged the regiment the entire way, and on 13 July, the regiment reached the coast near Laiana without food or water. It was on this day that Pvt. Mc Master was killed.
He is buried at the Manila American Cemetery, Fort Bonifacio, Manila, Philippines. He was 21 years old.
Pvt. McMaster memorial marker at the Roosevelt Cemetery, Beltrami County, MN.
(Photo courtesy of Findagrave.com.)
Pfc. Melody's Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and Victory Medal.
Pfc. Gordon B. Melody, 39041058, Medic, Medical Detachment, 163rd Infantry Regiment, 41st Infantry Division. Killed in Action on 13 March 1945 at Blowout Hill during the Zamboanga Operation, on Mindanao, Philippine Islands. Born on 8 February 1924, he entered the service on 27 February 1943 from San Francisco, California.
Pfc. Melody was a Medic in the 163rd Infantry Regiment. The 163rd Infantry Regiment went ashore near San Mateo on 10 March 1945. After establishing a beachhead, they moved inland clearing the first several lines of Japanese defenses. On 12 March, the 1st and 2nd Battalions approached, what is now known as Blowout Hill, where the Japanese exploded the entire hill in a giant booby-trap after packing explosives underground. The Americans were lucky in that the explosives were set off a few seconds too soon. Only 5 men were killed and 40 wounded, with Company E suffering from "a bad case of mass shell-shock."
Records show that Pfc. Melody was killed on 13 March 1945 by an explosion. Perhaps he was among the wounded on 12 March as his cause of death is very unique. Perhaps he was actually killed in an explosion of another smaller booby-trap which were used in abundance by the Japanese. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star medal but the General Order is missing from the U.S. National Archives.
He is buried at the Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno, California. He was 20 years old.
Pfc. Melody's headstone at the Golden Gate National Cemetery.
Pvt. Melton's Purple Heart.
|Pvt. James J. Melton, 20529048, Company K, 152nd Infantry Regiment, 38th Infantry Division. Killed in Action on 6 February 1945 while clearing Highway #7 near Olongapo, Luzon, Philippine Islands. Born on 1 January 1920, he entered the service on 9 December 1940 from Bluefield, West Virginia. |
Pvt. Melton served with the 38th Infantry Division during its campaigns on New Guinea, Leyte and Luzon. The 152nd Regiment landed on Leyte on 16 December 1944 and after several engagements landed on Luzon on 29 January 1945. At this time, Pvt. Melton received the Combat Infantryman's Badge effective on 31 January 1945. After capturing Subic Bay and the port facilities at Olongapo, the entire 38th Infantry Division was sent to clear Highway #7 culminating in the Battle of Zig Zag Pass from 1 - 14 February 1945.
Pvt. Melton moved down the imposing Highway #7 with the rest of his 3rd Battalion comrades. The Highway was strongly defended by the Japanese who used the extremely steep slopes rising to the north of Highway #7 and falling on the south of the Highway to inflict heavy casualties on the 152nd Infantry Regiment. Barbed wire entanglements were strung along the Highway with completely dug in and supporting fire positions. The confined space and slow advance made the Regiment vulnerable to Japanese artillery and mortar fire. In addition to the problems encountered during the day, the Japanese used infiltration tactics at night. 3rd Battalion took especially heavy casualties on 6 February where it was ordered to move down Highway #7 at 1400 hours and occupy an enemy position. After a costly advance, 3rd Battalion occupied the objective but was unable to mop up the position leaving Japanese soldiers within its position. It was during this action that Pvt. Melton lost his life.
He is buried at the Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippines. He was 25 years old.
Pvt. Melton's headstone at the Manila-American Cemetery.
Pfc. Mitchell's Silver Star and Purple Heart.
Pfc. William E. Mitchell, 34631710, Company G, 475th Infantry Battalion "Merrill's Marauders." Killed in Action on 13 December 1944 near Tonka, Burma. Born on 28 July 1924, he entered the service on 11 May 1943 from Tula, Mississippi.
Pfc. Mitchell was a part of the 5307th Composite Unit, having joined it before its consolidation into the 475th Infantry Battalion. The 5307th Composite Unit is also known as "Merrill's Marauders" and the United States 75th Ranger Regiment traces its origins back to this unit.
On 13 December 1944, Pfc. Mitchell was the lead scout for his platoon whose mission was to reduce a Japanese road block. Pfc. Mitchell discovered a Japanese ambush and lead a squad to outflank the ambush. After completing this task, Pfc. Mitchell noticed a Japanese machinegun position that was covering his squad. He quickly moved to the machineguns flank and opened fire, which allowed his squad to reach cover. He then crawled to within 10 feet of the position and knocked it out with hand grenades. Pfc. Mitchell was killed in this act. For his bravery, Pfc. Mitchell was posthumously awarded the Silver Star.
He is buried at the Tula Cemetery, Tula, Mississippi. He was 20 years old.
Pfc. William Mitchell in a photograph on his headstone. (Photo courtesy of Gwen Sanders.)
Pfc. Mitchell's headstone at the Tula Cemetery. (Photo courtesy of Gwen Sanders.)
Lt. Mix's Air Medal and Purple Heart.
|1st Lt. Andrew F. Mix, O-817066, Pilot, P-51 #44-15136, 341st Fighter Squadron, 348th Fighter Group, V Fighter Command, 5th Air Force. Killed in Action on 21 February 1945 about 30 miles off the coast of Kang Ngei, French Indochina, when he developed engine trouble and vanished into the clouds. He was from New York. |
Lt. Mix flew both P-47s and P-51s during the war. He was credited with two kills; his first, a Japanese Zero, on 14 December 1944 over Cebu City, Phillipine Islands, and his second, another Zero, on 22 December 1944, 2 miles east of Clark Field, Philippine Islands.
On 21 February 1945, Lt. Mix was flying a bomber escort mission. While flying off the coast of present day Vietnam, his aircraft developed engine trouble. Lt. Richard Garst reported seeing fire come from the exhaust pipes of Lt. Mix's P-51. Lt. Mix reported that he had coolant problems and descended through the cloud cover at 6,000 feet. No one ever saw his aircraft after that point despite a search effort.
He is listed on the Tablet of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery, Fort Bonifacio, Manila, Philippine Islands.
The P-51 in which Lt. Mix was killed. (Photo courtesy of "Kearby's Thunderbolts: The 348th Fighter Group in World War II.")
Pfc. Newell's Purple Heart.
|Pfc. Thomas R. Newell, 37206721, Company "F," 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division. Killed in Action on 21 October 1944 on Leyte, Philippine Islands. Born on 29 January 1911, he entered service on 14 June 1942 from Liberal, Kansas. |
Pfc. Newell took part in the battles on New Guinea from 22 April 1944 to 6 June 1944. The Division then took part in occupation duties until the Leyte Campaign began in October.
Pfc. Newell assaulted Leyte with the rest of his Division on 20 October 1944 in the Palo-Pawing area taking Hill 522 after heavy combat. Fighting continued the next day in which Pfc. Newell was killed in action by enemy rifle fire.
He is buried at Liberal Cemetery, Liberal, Kansas. He was 33 years old.
Pfc. Newell in a 1944 newspaper photograph.
Pfc. Newell's headstone at Liberal Cemetery. (Photo courtesy of Findagrave.com.)
Pfc. Nichols' Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart.
|Pfc. Cecil R. Nichols, 35653703, Company E, 2nd Battalion, 182nd Infantry Regiment, Americal Division. Killed in Action on 10 March 1944 during the Battle for Hill 260 on Bougainville, Solomon Islands by multiple gun shot wounds. Born on 23 April 1916, he entered the service from Arcola, West Virginia. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart and the Combat Infantryman's Badge. |
Pfc. Nichols was killed on the first day of the fierce three day battle for Hill 260 on Bougainville. Hill 260 is located about 7500 yards north of the mouth of the Torokima River and is on the West bank of the river. From the top of Hill 260, forces could observe most of the surrounding hills and it also directly controls the ridge running off of Hill 608 known as "Snuffy's Nose Ridge" which both the Japanese and American's considered vital. Hill 260 was covered with dense jungle and only a few firing paths had been cleared.
The Japanese attacked the garrison on Hill 260 at 0611 on 10 March, and quickly split the garrison in two. At 0845, Company E, and with it Pfc. Nichols, was ordered to attack Hill 260 from the Southwest slope. The Battalion commander greatly underestimated the strength of the Japanese forces (elements of the Japanese 13th and 23d Infantry Regiments, 6th Division) and the platoons of Company E were pinned down after only advancing a few yards. With this early development, all of the reserves of Company E were committed immediately. Company E continued there direct assault up the Hill and by 1900 hours, they held the crest of the hill. While the battle raged up a down the hill for several more days and continued to result in heavy hand to hand combat, Pfc. Nichols lost his life during the initial attack up the Hill.
Company E, 182nd Infantry Regiment was awarded with a Unit Citation for its attack on Hill 260 on 10-11 March 1944. It reads:
"On the morning of 10 March 1944, the Japanese attacked and quickly overran our occupying force on Hill 260. When reinforcements were brought up in a plan to seize the summit of the hill, Company E, after a preliminary reconnaissance, counterattacked from the southwest, over terrain covered with dense jungle growth and often inclining to an angle of forty-five degrees, with the objective of retaking the south portion of the hill. As the operations began, the enemy were prepared for a counterattack prior to the arrival of Company E at the base of the hill. Enemy resistance increased with the progress of the attack, and in the face of intense fire from light machine guns, Nambu machine guns, knee mortars, and hand grenades, Company E's forward movement came to a standstill after an advance of forty yards. A double enveloping movement attempted by the first and second platoons was forced into a withdrawal after suffering heavy casualties. Further casualties resulted in the third platoon from flanking enemy machine gun fire during a drive north on the hill. In a renewed charge the second platoon was virtually decimated; but in all sectors Company E held every inch gained. The enemy, reinforced with automatic weapons and riflemen during the night, charged the morning of 11 March 1944. Company E repulsed the assault, killing twenty enemy, but in so doing, its own effective combat strength was reduced to only thirty-five men. Later, in company force, the enemy launched another counterattack under a torrent of knee mortar shells, hand grenades, machine guns and rifle fire. With one-forth of its original strength, Company E fought gallantry, and firmly held off the enemy, inflicting heavy casualties. By this time enemy shell fire had cleared out all vegetation, and Company E's weapons and movements were open to the observation of the enemy who was delivering accurate plunging fire on them: Company E, with only twenty-four fighting men left, finally withdrew under the leadership of a wounded commander."
The Army searched for the body of Pfc. Nichols until 1951. At that time they decided that because of the heavy artillery bombardments that took place on Hill 260 after his death, that the graves on the hill were greatly disturbed and that bodies above ground were completely shattered.
He is listed on the Tablet of the Missing at the Manila, American Cemetery, Manila, Philippines. He was 27 years old.
F1c Oeldemann's Purple Heart.
|F1c Henry C. Oeldemann, 6103317, SS-209, the Tambor-class submarine "USS Grayling." Killed in Action on or about 9 September 1943 when his submarine disappeared and was presumed lost in the waters near the Tablas Strait, Philippines. Born on 29 June 1919, he entered the service on 9 January 1942 from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.|
The USS Grayling was conducting her eighth war patrol when she was lost with all hands. The Graylings last victory was recorded on 27 August 1943 against the passenger-cargo Meizan Maru in the Tablas Strait. On 9 September, a Japanese ship reported sighting an American submarine on the surface and a second ship later reported an American submarine in shallow water off the coast of Manila. The ship, passenger-cargo vessel Hokuan Maru reported making a run over the submarine and "noted an impact with a submerged object." No word from the Grayling was ever received past 9 September. All 76 hands were lost.
He is listed on the Tablet of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery, Fort Bonifacio, Manila, Philippines.
SS-209, The USS Grayling. (National Archives Photo.)
S1c Rieman's Purple Heart.
|Seaman 1st Class John J. Rieman, 3220841, CV-19, the Essex-Class Aircraft Carrier "USS Hancock." Killed in Action on 7 April 1945, off the coast of Okinawa when a Kamikaze crashed into the USS Hancock's flight deck. Born on 23 February 1926, he enlisted in the Navy on 26 January 1944 from Sheffield, Iowa.|
On 7 April 1945, the USS Hancock was supporting American forces fighting on Okinawa. A Japanese Kamikaze aircraft, a "Judy" dive-bomber, attacked the carrier head-on, skimming along the water and evading the carrier's anti-aircraft fire long enough to crash into the Hancock, cartwheeling across the flight before deck crashing into a group of American aircraft. The Judy carried a 500-lb bomb which fell loose from the aircraft and exploded on the port-catapult causing extensive damage. Sailors were killed in the initial explosion or blow over the side of the ship. Despite heavy damage that required the USS Hancock to return to Pearl Harbor for repairs, the crew of the Hancock battled the fires and commenced flight operations in less then four hour. 63 sailors were killed of which the remains of 35 were never recovered. S1c Rieman was one of those sailors lost at sea.
He is listed on the Tablet of the Missing at the Honolulu Memorial, Honolulu, Hawaii. He was 19 years old and survived by his mother and father.
S1c John Rieman before joining the Navy.
CV-19, The USS Hancock. (National Archives Photo.)
The USS Hancock after being hit by a Kamikaze on 7 April 1945. (National Archives Photo.)
The USS Hancock burning on 7 April 1945. (National Archives Photo.)
Cpl. Roesch's Purple Heart.
|Cpl. Richard J. Roesch, 33070452, Armorer/Gunner in B-25-H, serial #43-4361, 491st Bomb Squadron, 341st Bomb Group (M), 14th Air Force. Killed in Action on 9 January 1945 when his aircraft hit a mountain near Donf Cuong, Moha Area, French Indochina (present day Vietnam). Born on 19 May 1916, he entered the service on 9 June 1941 from Tarentum, Pennsylvania. |
Cpl. Roesch was a crew member of pilot 2nd Lt. Jack C. Davis. On 9 January 1945 they were flying a mission up the Red River Valley from Yangkai, China to bomb targets in Kep, French Indochina, when the ceiling suddenly lowered at 1556 hours. The second plane in the two plane formation climbed above the overcast after attempting to get under it. The B-25 of Cpl. Roesch never flew out of the clouds in the mountainous region. The French Military Mission to China reported that the aircraft which crashed "at Yen Bay crashed into the ground." All six members of the crew were killed and buried by French troops using the plane as a marker.
He is buried at the Gettysburg National Cemetery, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He was 28 years old.
Cpl. Roesch's headstone at Gettysburg National Cemetery.
Pvt. Rybka's Purple Heart.
|Pvt. Ted J. Rybka, 35047338, Company E, 127th Infantry Regiment, 32nd Infantry Division. Killed in Action on 4 January 1943 by gun shot wounds at Buna, New Guinea. Born on 26 September 1919, he entered the service from Lakewood, Ohio. |
Pvt. Rybka with all three regiments from the division fought in the Battle of the Buna-Gona beachhead on 19 November 1942. After several other engagements, Pvt. Rybka took part in the Battle of Buna Mission between 24 December 1942 and 1 January 1943 and near the Government Plantation near Giropa Point on 2 January 1943. It was two days later that Pvt. Rybka was killed when he was struck by Japanese bullets.
He is buried at the Calvary Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio. He was 23 years old.
Pvt. Rybka's headstone at Calvary Cemetery.
Cpl. Shoemaker's Purple Heart.
|Cpl. Richard E. Shoemaker, Sr., 33751679, Right Gunner, B-29 #42-24808, 871st Bomb Squadron, 497th Bomb Group (VH), 20th Air Force. Killed in Action on 25 February 1945 when his B-29 collided with another -B-29 over the assembly point on the way to bomb Tokyo. Born on 27 March 1917, he entered the service on 15 December 1943 from Washington, DC. |
Cpl. Shoemaker was killed when his aircraft collided with another B-29 while en route to bomb Tokyo, Japan. One aircraft broke into several pieces and fell into the sea in flames at 2704N/14110E near Bonin Island. The flight originated from Saipan with his aircraft piloted by Lt. Jack S. Barnes. Witnesses report that Lt. Barnes aircraft was slighly below and ahead of the other aircraft, A-44 #3431, piloted by Lt. Austin R. Keith, when Lt. Keith's aircraft crashed into the top of Lt. Barnes' aircraft. Lt. Barnes' aircraft appeared to disintegrate and crashed into the sea. The aircraft of Lt. Keith, appeared to recover momentarily and maintain altitude before it tilted onto a wing tip and crashed into the ocean as well. Two other B-29s circled the wreckage for over 100 minutes searching for survivors. None were found.
He was 27 years old, married and had a son. He is listed on the Tablet of the Missing at the Honolulu Memorial, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Pfc. Showalter's Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart.
|Pfc. Max N. Showalter, 37146323, Assistant Machine Gunner, Company G, 2nd Battalion, 129th Infantry Regiment, 37th Infantry Division. Killed in Action on 12 March 1944 on Bougainville, Solomon Islands when he was shot and killed while fighting for a series of pillboxes from a Japanese assault Born on 28 July 1919, he entered the service on 22 February 1942 from Drumwright, Oklahoma. He was awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Combat Infantryman's Badge. |
At the time of his death, Pfc. Showalter's Company G was occupying a ling near the Laruma River and the Numa Numa Trail. They were holding a position with multiple pillboxes when 2 Japanese Battalions from the Japanese 45th Infantry Regiment, 6th Infantry Division (these are veteran troops who participated in the Rape of Nanking in China) infiltrated the lines in Company G's sector throughout the night of 11 - 12 March and launched an attack at 0423. By 0630 the enemy had penetrated the lines of Company G and occupied at least 7 pillboxes. The force of the attack was blunted by Company G and American counterattacks stabilized the situation and was able to reoccupy four of the pillboxes. Pfc. Showalter was among the 2 KIAs of the day when he was hit with fire as an assistant machine gunner.
For his actions on this day, Pfc. Showalter was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal for heroic achievements in connection with military operations against the enemy at Bougainville, Solomon Islands, on 12 March 1944. The citation continues, "Private First Class Showalter, an assistant machine gunner, tenaciously defended his position under the withering fire of two savage enemy attacks until struck by an enemy bullet."
He is buried at the Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippines. He was 24 years old.
Pfc. Showalter's headstone at the Manila-American Cemetery.
Pfc. Simpson's Purple Heart.
|Pfc. Franklin E. Simpson, 33245096, Troop C, 8th Engineer Squadron, 1st Cavalry Division. Killed in Action on 27 February 1945 at Taytay, Luzon, Philippine Islands. Born on 18 March 1913, he entered the service on 23 May 1942 from Huntington, Pennsylvania. |
Pfc. Simpson was killed by shrapnel wounds to his chest.
He is buried at the Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippine Islands. He was 31 years old and married.
Pfc. Simpson's headstone at the Manila-American Cemetery.
S1c. Skudlas' Purple Heart and ribbons.
|Seaman 1st Class John J. Skudlas, 3720037, CA-30, Northhampton-class Heavy Cruiser, USS Houston. Killed in Action on 1 March 1942 at the Battle of Sunda Strait. Born on 21 May 1919, he entered the service on 08 January 1937 from Scottsbluff, Nebraska. |
On 1 March 1942 at 2215 hours, the USS Houston, the flagship of the US Asiatic Fleet, engaged a superior Japanese naval force in the Sunda Strait, as she and the Australian light cruiser Perth attempted to return to the port of Batavia following the Battle of the Java Sea. The Houston had already lost her stern 8" gun turret to a Japanese bomb and had only 50 rounds of ammunition for each of her remaining main guns when the two Allied warships encountered a Japanese invasion force of Java consisting of at least 2 heavy cruisers, 3 light cruisers, 10 destroyers, 4 minesweepers and over 10 transports. Inflicting damage on the enemy during the first fifteen minutes of the battle, the situation for the Houston and Perth soon changed for the worse as Japanese warships arrived during the nighttime battle. The battle raged at close range with every gun on the Houston engaged from 8" main guns down to .50 caliber machine guns. After more then an hour of fighting four Japanese torpedoes slammed into the Perth sinker her.
Fighting alone, the Captain of the Houston, Captain Albert H. Rooks, gave up the idea of escaping and turned his ship back into the Japanese transports, 4 of which had been sunk by Japanese torpedoes fired at the Houston in the swirling battle. The outcome of this lopsided battle was never in doubt and at 2250 hours the Houston's #2 turret took hits from Japanese shell fire, flooding it's magazines, followed by three torpedo hits. Captain Rooks gave the order to abandon ship at 2355 before being killed by a shell 5 minutes later. In all the Houston was hit by 4 to 6 torpedoes, three entire salvos, 11 individual hits and additional hits that cannot be determined if they were from shells or torpedoes before sinking with her colors still flying on her mast. Of the original 1,061 crewman, only 361 survived to be captured by the Japanese and forces to work as slave laborers on the Burma railroad made famous in the movie The Bridge Over The River Kwai. The fate of most of the crew would not be know until after the end of the war.
S1c Skudlas was one of the crewman killed during the battle. According to a letter by the senior surviving officer of the USS Houston, A.L. Maher, written after the war, Seaman Skudlas was seen alive in the water after the Houston sank, but he was never seen again.
His body was never recovered and he is listed on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippines. He was 22 years old.
S1c John Skudlas.
The USS Houston in the 1930s. (National Archives Photo.)
The USS Houston in February 1942. (National Archives Photo.)
S1c Skudlas' memorial marker at Sacred Heart Cemetery, Hay Springs, NE. (Photo courtesy of Chuck James.)
Pvt. Spitler's Silver Star Medal and Purple Heart.
|Pvt. Clarence K. Spitler, 33230183, Company E, 172nd Infantry Regiment, 43rd Infantry Division. Killed in Action on 15 July 1943 on New Georgia Island. Born on 30 August 1916, he entered the service from Bethel, Pennsylvania. |
Little has been discovered so far about the Pvt. Spitler. At the time of his death, the 172nd Infantry Regiment was engaged with the Japanese on New Georgia. The regiment had landed on the island on 30 June 1943. From 9 July until 8 August the 172nd Regiment was engaged on the Munda Trail moving towards the junction of the Lambetti Trail. The Regiment was forced to fight with severe supply shortages with it reaching the coast of Laiana on 13 July without food and water. It was here, as the regiment expanded its perimeter from 15 to 23 July, that Pvt. Spitler was killed in action.
He is buried at the New Union Cemetery, Rehrersburg, Pennsylvania. He was 26 years old.
Pvt. Spitler's headstone at New Union Cemetery.
Sgt. Turberville's Purple Heart.
|Sgt, Walter D. Turberville, 314645, Weapons Company, 9th Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, USMC. Killed in Action on 6 March 1945 on Iwo Jima. Born on 21 January 1921, he entered the service on 25 June 1941 from Uriah, Alabama. |
Sgt. Turberville was killed during a day when the 3rd Marine Division achieved the maximum gains of the day into the fierce Japanese defenders of Iwo Jima -- 200 yards.
He is buried at the Mineola Cemetery, Uriah, Alabama. He was 24 years old.
Sgt. Turberville's headstone at Mineola Cemetery.
Pfc. Voekel's Soldiers Medal, Purple Heart and Good Conduct Medal.
|Pfc. Paul E. Voelkel, 33426634, Company L, 182nd Infantry Regiment, Americal Division. Died of Wounds on 24 April 1945 on Cebu, Philippine Islands from gun shot wounds to his left chest on the same day. Born on 3 October 1922, he entered the service on 16 February 1943 from Templeton, Pennsylvania. |
Pfc. Voelkel's Soldier's Medal is serial numbered 1208.
He is buried at Cochran Cemetery, Templeton, Pennsylvania. He was 22 years old.
Pvt. Woodman's Purple Heart.
|Pvt. Dexter C. Woodman, 11014680, 27th Material Squadron, Far East Air Force. Killed in Action on 13 December 1941 during a Japanese air raid on Nichols Field, Luzon, Philippine Islands. Born on 24 June 1920, he entered the service on 30 September 1940 from Henniker, New Hampshire with two other friends.|
Pvt. Woodman was one of the first casualties of World War II for the United States, being killed less then a week after Pearl Harbor during the Japanese invasion of the Philippine Islands. He shipped out to the Philippines aboard the USAT "U.S. Grant" around February 1941as he spent a week on sick call during the journey as did many soldiers sailing across the world's ocean. He was killed during a Japanese air raid on Nichols Field on 13 December 1941. The chaotic time surrounding the first weeks of the war, especially in the Philippines, led to several issues arising about Pvt. Woodman's death such as establishing his correct name and date of death, which did not happen until 1946.
His body was returned home and buried on 21 October 1948. He was buried along with his high school friend Douglas Rush, who joined the Army Air Corps at the same time as Pvt. Woodman, served with him in the Philippines, died as a prisoner of war of the Japanese, and returned home at the same time to be buried. The town of Henniker honored Pvt. Woodman in 7 November 1942 by naming a small park in front of town hall Woodman Park.
He is buried at New Cemetery, Henniker, New Hampshire. He was 21 years old.
Pvt. Woodman in a newspaper photograph.
Pvt. Woodman's headstone at New Cemetery.
Pvt. Woods' Purple Heart.
|Pvt. Gene A. Woods, 38458939, 128th Infantry Regiment, 32nd Infantry Division. Killed in Action on 31 March 1945 in the Philippine Islands. Born on 19 July 1924, he entered the service from Bexar County, Texas.|
He is buried at Smith Cemetery, Kendall County, Texas. He was 20 years old.
Pvt. Woods' headstone at Smith Cemetery. (Photo courtesy of Emory Schnuriger.)