My Dad’s memoirs, which he wrote while in his early seventies, include some details of his service with Company A, Third Marine Division. Here he talks about Bougainville: Orders came for an invasion of Bougainville, British Solomon Islands. So we started to hustle once again, packing gear, cleaning weapons, etc. We all went aboard a LCVP (landing craft vehicle personnel) hove to the beach. There were dozens of them to accommodate our entire division. The staging area for the operation was a few hundred miles north of Guadalcanal. Our firepower consisted of two battleships, 1 heavy cruiser, 3 destroyers, a supply ship and a hospital ship, plus many landing craft. We were offshore from Empress Augusta Bay. At around 0500 the Navy began shelling the beach. At about 0700 we all went over the side on cargo nets to the waiting boats below. We landed on Cape Torokina. We experienced light opposition while some of our division down the coast by the Piva River ran into stiff fighting. The entire division consisting of approximately 10,000 men was involved in this operation. My very good friends “Tiny” Owens (Congressional Medal of Honor winner), Jimmy Carrick and Carl Martin were all killed at Piva River. Also Teofilo Romero—one heck of a nice guy. Of the estimated 28,000 Japs on the island, only about 300 surrendered. The rest were either killed or committed suicide. Ten days after the landing, Bougainville was considered secure.
The names of my Dad’s lost buddies stood out to me, of course, and I wanted to see what information I could find out about them. For three of them, I only found Find a Grave entries recording their burial places. Not surprisingly, much more can be found about Sgt. Owens. I can’t begin to imagine how deeply their loss was felt, not just by my father (then 22), but by all of Company A. They were so young, and gave all. May they — and my Dad (d. 1992) — rest in peace.
Sgt. Robert A. Owens (September 13, 1920 – November 1, 1943) – age 23 – hometown Drayton, SC; nicknamed “Tiny”, but there was nothing tiny about what he did at Bougainville on November 1, 1943. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously, his father accepting the medal on August 12, 1945, at the family home from Major General Clayton B. Vogel, Commanding General at Parris Island at that time. Here is Sgt. Owen’s story. He lies in rest at the Manila American Cemetery. Other links:
PFC Carl Osteen Martin (May 29, 1924 – November 2, 1943) – age 19 – buried in Maplewood Cemetery in Mt. Olive, North Carolina.
PFC James Purcell Carrick (August 19, 1925 – November 20, 1943) – age 18 – buried in Section 34, Site 1131, Arlington National Cemetery.
PFC Teofilo Romero (March 7, 1925 – November 1, 1943) – age 18 – buried in Puerto Rico National Cemetery in Bayamon, Puerto Rico (Section F, Site 2856). Teofilo appears in the front left of the below photo my father had in his photo collection.