World War II Chronicle: 10 January 1942

On 10 January, the situation in the Southwest Pacific remains more or less the same, albeit the Japanese invaders on Luzon have driven the Philippine and American troops further back. Gen. Douglas MacArthur conducts an inspection of Bataan and Japanese warplanes drop a message — their first demand that the isolated defenders surrender. The chronicle serves as somewhat of a pipeline for fascinating stories on a more personal level that we wouldn’t easily find all these years later, so let’s take this opportunity to focus on a few personal interest stories from today’s paper.

Raymond and William Wells were one of 38 sets of brothers that served together aboard USS Arizona on 7 December 1941. Yesterday, Raymond Sr. (a veteran of the first world war) and Alice Wells of Nevada, Mo. learned that their sons were both killed in last month’s attack. Raymond Jr. had served on Arizona since 1938 and William had just joined the crew in June 1940.

Engravings from the Courts of the Missing in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific

It was quite common for family members to serve together on the same ship, especially during peacetime. A father and his son were also killed aboard Arizona. Click here to read about the brothers killed on USS Oklahoma.

On 21 April 1914, Lt. Guy W.S. Castle led the battleship USS Utah‘s battalion of bluejacket infantry ashore (yes, the same ship sunk at Pearl Harbor 27 years later) to capture the port of Veracruz, Mexico, earning the Medal of Honor. Two things were named in Lt. Castle’s honor: a Gearing-class destroyer and a son, Guy W.S. Castle Jr..

Image from The Evening Star

Guy Jr. enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1934 and later fought in the Spanish Civil war. In today’s paper we see Guy Jr. has re-enlisted in the Marines. While I couldn’t find any information on the younger Castle, apart from his passing in 1965, Navy records show that he was wounded in the Solomons on 14 September 1942 while serving in Company B of Col. Merritt A. Edson’s 1st Marine Raider Battalion.

Below is an excerpt from the Bureau of Navigation’s February 1942 edition of Information for Naval Personnel:

SUBMARINERS.

Do you know that three of the Fleet Commanders, United States Fleet, Asiatic Fleet, and Pacific Fleet are submarine officers? Yes, indeed! – Admirals King, Nimitz, and Hart – Remember them?

RETIRED MARINE SERGEANT MAJOR OFFERS TO SERVE AS “HUMAN TORPEDO.”

Secretary of the Navy Knox has received the following letter from Sergeant Major Charles J. Buerger, U.S.M.C. (Retired) of Ventnor City, New Jersey:

“6401 Monmouth Avenue
Ventnor City, N.J.
December 12, 1941.

“Dear Secretary Knox:

“It is with pleasure that I take this opportunity, at this critical period, to offer myself as a ‘Human Torpedo’ to serve its cause.

“I have had 31 years experience in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving in the Indian War, 1890, Spanish American War aboard the U.S. Flagship New York, under Admiral Sampson, on the staff as a signal officer and also the World War.

“I am now 69 years young, a tough leather-neck, humble but courageous, and the spirit of the U.S. Marine Corps ‘Semper Fidelis’ is imbedded within me.

“Let us rally now and unite as one, deal a final knockout blow quickly on the gangster nations, so we can dedicate that noble Temple of Liberty and Freedom of Justice.

“Our great President once said ‘there is nothing to fear except fear itself’, so let us march forward courageously under the banner of God and Justice so we may enjoy the fruits of our labor that was given us by our Forefathers at the Birth of our Nation.

“My only regret is that I have but one life to offer my country, for the happiness of our future generation and great democracy.

Obediently yours,
CHARLES J. BUERGER
Sgt. Maj. Ret.”

Sgt. Maj. Buerger was born in 1872, enlisted in the Marines on 7 June 1894. He retired in 1920 and passed on in 1956. He is interred at the Egg Harbor City Cemetery in Egg Harbor, N.J.

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Author: Documents

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