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Name: Rank: Service No: Service: Awards: Date of Birth: Place of Birth: Date of Enlistment: Place of Enlistment: Date of Death: Age at Death: Cemetery: Grave Reference:
Thomas Edward Church
Sources *Smith, George W, Do-Or-Die Men: The 1st Marine Raider Battalion at Guadalcanal (p. 97) Together We Served
Thomas Edward Church Private 354597 Company B, 1st Marine Raider Battalion (“Balls of the Corps”) United States Marine Corps Purple Heart Combat Action Ribbon Navy Presidential Unit Citation American Campaign Medal Asiatic/Pacific Campaign Medal-1 star World War II Victory Medal February 18, 1920 Falmouth, Hants Co., NS January 7, 1942 Boston, Massachusetts August 10, 1942 22 National Memorial Cemetery Of The Pacific, 2177 Puowaina Drive Honolulu, HI, 96813 Section A, Row 0, Grave 700 Private Thomas Church was the son of Edward (1885-1946) and Edna Jean (Miller) Church (1891- 1991). His father was born January 18, 1885, in Falmouth, NS; his mother was born October 16, 1881, in Newport Station, Hants County, NS. They were married September 12, 1911, in Newport, Hants Co., NS. Private Church enlisted in January, 1942 after the bombing of Pearl Harbour in December of 1941. He completed his basic training at Boot Camp, Parris Island, South Carolina. He travelled from San Diego, California to Tutuila, Samoa aboard the USS Zeilin in April, 1942 and from Tutuila to Noumea, New Caledonia aboard USS Heywood in July of 1942. Two attempts by the Japanese to extend their defensive perimeter in the south and central Pacific were thwarted in the battles of Coral Sea (May 1942) and Midway (June 1942). These two strategic victories for the Allies provided them with an opportunity to take the initiative and launch an offensive against the Japanese somewhere in the Pacific. The Allies chose the Solomon Islands, specifically the southern Solomon Islands of Guadalcanal, Tulagi, and Florida as the location for their first offensive. Private Church participated in the August 7, 1942, Marine Raiders landing on Tulagi Island. His transfer from Noumea, New Caledonia, to Tulagi was aboard USS Colhoun. On the first day of battle, Private Church had a close call. An enemy bullet had pierced the front of his helmet and glanced upward, ripping through his helmet without touching his head. He didn’t know how close he came to getting killed until someone later asked him about the hole in his helmet.* The following day, he was wounded in action on August 8, 1942; he died on August 10, 1942, of wounds received in action against Imperial Japanese Forces. He was initially buried in the Guadalcanal Cemetery, in the Soloman Islands, and was re-interred at the National Memorial Cemetery of The Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii, on January 25, 1949.
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