Posts Tagged With: WWII

Dad’s good friends lost during the invasion of Bougainville

The landing at Empress Augusta Bay, Island of Bougainville, British Solomon Islands. By Unknown or not provided – U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53319

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.

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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.

Categories: Bougainville, Brodhead, WWII | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

The Greatest Generation — Dad’s photos with ‘A’ Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines — Pacific Theater

Charles D. Brodhead (enlisted as a Private and left service as a Sergeant)

Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of my father’s passing, and also, of far less significance, the 6th anniversary of this blog. I started it with him in mind, knowing how much family history meant to him. It’s a shame he has not been here to help me fill in pieces I can’t quite pull together or celebrate the discoveries I make with me. But I know he is here in spirit, and, perhaps, it was he who steered my hands last week toward a faded and plain, nondescript envelope containing the below photos from early on in his service during WWII. As you may recall from a past post, he served in A Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines. It looks like the photos were all taken on Guadalcanal except one, a view of Samoa.

Pacific Theater – WW II – 1941-1945 (Courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin)

The photos are an amazing find. I was especially delighted to see the faces of a few of the men my Dad spoke so highly of while I was growing up, especially 1st Sgt Frank DaVanon. So this post and the photos are dedicated to Dad (Charles D. Brodhead), these men, and all the others who served alongside him.

I have included all of his captions (Thank you, Dad!) both on the images and written out separately below so that search engines can find them. Perhaps someone ‘out there’ will find a photo of their greatest generation family member. And if you recognize someone, please feel free to leave a comment below.  Thank you, and Happy Easter, All.

I am repeating the captions below so that search engines can pick them up for any family members who may be searching for their servicemen.

Photo 1: “A” Company specialists at Guadalcanal. Front row left to right: Grier, Co. Property Sgt; Stein, cook; Coleman, runner; DeMarco, Asst. Property Sgt; Rear row left to right: Black, buglar; Butkiewicz, jeep driver; Edwards, signalman; Fiands, cook

Photo 2: Some of ‘A’ Company men with Japanese flag at Guadalcanal, 1943.
Front (left to right): Rothberg, Gresko, Standley, and Wilshere Rear (left to right): 1st Sgt DaVanon, Tezack, Wilson, and Urbanovitch

Photo 3: ‘A’ Co. group at Guadalcanal, 1943: Front (left to right): Murphy, Vaught, Morris, and Callentine Rear (left to right): Morris, Phillips, Kaier, and Thornton

Photo 4: ‘A’ Company Staff NCOs and company commander after Bougainville operation, 1943.
Front (left to right): Gunnery Sgt Rowley; Captain C.F. Quilici; and Gunnery Sgt Urbanavitch
Standing (left to right): Gunnery Sgt Wilson; 1st Sgt DaVanon; and Platoon Sgt Morris

Photo 5: ‘A’ Co. 1st Bn, 3rd Marines – Group of Mortar and Machine Gun Sections, Taken at Guadalcanal after Bougainville operation, 1943 Front (left to right): Fansler, mortar squad leader; Low, mortar gunner; Watson, mortar gunner; and Cort, machine gunner Rear (left to right): Logan, machine gunner; Trott, machine gunner; Rowley, Gunnery Sgt; Colarulli, machine gunner; and Brown, machine gunner

Photo 6: ‘A’ Co. after Bougainville operation, 1943. Sorting accumulated mail and Christmas packages.
Foreground, sitting, 1st Sgt DaVanon; Kneeling, back to camera, Brodhead (Dad)

Photo 7: Taken at Guadalcanal before Bougainville operation, in front of property storage tent.
Front (left to right): Teofilo Romero (killed at Bougainville); Grier; and Rice
Standing (left to right): DeMarco, Steger, and Fiands

Photo 8: On beach at Guadalcanal, 1943. Some of the ‘A’ Co. gang. Note palm trees torn by shellfire.

Photo 9: Pvt. Charles D. Brodhead, US Marines Sept 1943, Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands

Photo 10: Islanders fishing

Photo 11: Guadalcanal, 1943: Sgt. H.B. Grier and a couple of natives

Photo 12: Samoa, 1942

Photo 13: Gunnery Sgt W.W. Wilson, Jr. and BoBo (an orphaned native boy of Guadalcanal)
Photo taken in 3rd Division bivouac area in Lever Bros. coconut plantation.

Photo 14: Guadalcanal, 1943. 1st Sgt DaVanon and two natives.

Photo 15: Photo taken on beach at Guadalcanal showing members of ‘A’ Co., 1st Bn, 3rd Marines digging foxholes of

Categories: Bougainville, Brodhead, Guadalcanal, WWII | Tags: , , , , , , | 13 Comments

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