43rd Division soldiers landing on Rendova Island in the Solomons, June 30, 1943
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Name: Ernest Eugene Surrette Rank: Private First Class Service Number: 20145393 Service: Company I, 103rd Infantry Regiment, 43rd Infantry Division, US Army Awards: Purple Heart Date of Birth: July 28, 1922 Place of Birth: Millinocket, Penobscot Co., Maine Date of Enlistment: February 24, 1941 Place of Enlistment: Millinocket, Penobscot Co., Maine Address at Enlistment: Millinocket, Penobscot Co., Maine Age at Enlistment: 18 Height: 5 feet, 9 inches Occupation: Architect Marital Status: Single Next of Kin: John Mandé Surrette, father Date of Death: July 25, 1943 Age: 20 Cemetery: East Millinocket Cemetery, Penobscot Co., Maine Ernest Eugene Surrette was the son of John Mandé Surrette (1900-1947) and Lena (Ouellette) Surrette (1907-1976). Ernest’s father was born in Salmon River, Digby County, Nova Scotia, and his mother was born in Grand Falls, Victoria County, New Brunswick. Ernest’s paternal grandfather Eugene Eli Surrette (1864-1948) was born in Wedgeport, in Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia. His paternal grandmother Marie Edesse ‘Addie’ (Saulnier) Surrette was born in Salmon River. Ernest had a sister Frances and three brothers, John Mandé Surrette (1924–1945), Arthur E Surrette (1926–2009), and Lionel Oliver Surrette (1933–2007). John died in Massachusetts of a non war-related cause in 1945. Arthur, served as a Machinist’s Mate Third Class in the US Navy in WWII and Lionel served as a Corporal in the US Army in the Korean War. Ernest’s father worked for the Great Northern Paper Company in East Millinocket, Penobscot County, Maine. The family lived in East Millinocket. Ernest was employed in architectural work before WWII, and was a member of the Maine National Guard prior to the war, as early as December 1940. Before the United States entered the war, his National Guard unit was called into full time active Army service on February 24, 1941, from Millinocket, Maine. When called into service for WWII, the 103rd became part of the 43rd Infantry Division, the "Winged Victory" Division. After finishing training at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, they were sent to the Pacific Theater. They embarked for New Zealand on October 1, 1942, and arrived at Auckland three weeks later. The first combat operations undertaken by the regiment were in early 1943 on Guadalcanal. The Japanese had ended all organized resistance but mopping up operations were conducted to root out stubborn stragglers. The first major action the 103rd Infantry took part in began on June 22, 1943, in the New Georgia Campaign. The New England infantrymen did battle with the Japanese and the jungle alike, and many men fell to disease. Here, the soldiers "were soon introduced to the harsh realities of jungle warfare". The battle was tough for the new regiment and they became bogged down in the dense jungle by the savage fighting against the enemy. Private First Class Ernest Eugene Surrette was killed in action on New Georgia Island in the Solomon Islands on July 25, 1943; three days before his 21st birthday. He was awarded the Purple Heart. The 43rd Division made a westward advance against the Japanese airfield at Munda and covered the southern (coastal) flank of the drive. The Battle of Munda Point was extremely bloody for the regiment; progress was slow and casualties were high, but eventually the area was captured on August 5, 1943, effectively ending all organized Japanese resistance on the island. The 103rd saw extensive and bloody combat at New Georgia and was sent to New Guinea to act as a reserve unit during the New Guinea Campaign, where it saw minor action as a supporting element. Ernest Eugene Surrette was initially interred in the Solomon Islands, but his body was repatriated to the United States at the request of the family after the war, and he was re-interred at the East Millinocket Cemetery in Penobscot County, Maine. He is also remembered on the Memorial at the East Millinocket Veterans Memorial Park.
Ernest Eugene Surrette
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43rd Division soldiers landing on Rendova Island in the Solomons, June 30, 1943
103rd Infantry Regt on New Guinea Island in the Solomon’s