Frank Peter Witek was born on December 10, 1921 in Derby, Connecticut. He moved as a child with his family to Chicago, Illinois, and it was from there that he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve on January 20, 1942.
After training, Witek was assigned to the active Marine Corps as an automatic rifleman armed with an M1918 BAR with the 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment as a component of the 3rd Marine Division. He fought with 1/9 on Bougainville, and then landed with them on Guam on July 21, 1944.
Continue reading Private First Class Frank P. Witek, USMCR (August 3, 1944)
Louis Hugh Wilson, Jr. was born in Brandon, Mississippi on February 11, 1920. He graduated from Millsaps College (Jackson, MS) with the class of 1941 and immediately enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve.
Wilson was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in November of 1941, and at some point in his early service his commission became with the regular Marine Corps. After his initial officer training, he was assigned to the 9th Marine Regiment at San Diego which was being formed between 1942 and 1943 for combat in the Pacific as part of the 3rd Marine Division.
Continue reading Captain Louis H. Wilson, Jr., USMC (July 25-26, 1944)
Jesse Ray Drowley was born on September 9, 1919 in St. Charles, Michigan. His family moved often as he was growing up, and he was living in Spokane, Washington when he enlisted or was drafted into the United States Army (extensive searches don’t turn up his enlistment record!).
Drowley was assigned as an infantryman with the 1st Battalion, 132nd Infantry Regiment as part of the Americal Division. The Americal was unique in World War II as it carried a name and not a numerical designation. The division got its name from “American, New Caledonia“, the South Pacific island on which the unit was provisionally formed for defense in May 1942. While officially known later as the 23rd Infantry Division, the Americal name stuck.
Continue reading TFH 1/30 Part 1: Staff Sergeant Jesse R. Drowley, USA
Herbert Joseph Thomas, Jr. was born in Columbus, Ohio on February 8, 1918. He moved at age seven with his family to South Charleston, West Virginia, where he spent the rest of his childhood and adolescence. After graduating from high school, Thomas attended the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) on a football scholarship. In 1940, he led the “Hokies” in both pass receptions and scoring.
In July 1941, he enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps, but soon requested and received a transfer to the United States Marine Corps in which many of his friends had volunteered. His enlistment was placed with the Marine Forces Reserve and he began on active service with the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment which was part of the newly-formed 3rd Marine Division.
On November 1, 1943, 1/3 Marines and the 3rd Marine Division stormed ashore on Bougainville for their first combat action of the war. Six days later, the Japanese began an ultimately unsuccessful counter-attack that is known today as the Battle of Koromokina Lagoon. Continue reading TFH 11/7: Sergeant Herbert J. Thomas, Jr., USMCR