Memorial Day

I normally like to write tongue-in-cheek posts.? I do love witty pieces and make my own attempt to follow in kind.? While I hope that this will not be morbid (like the one about my dearly-departed Aussie, Jilly), it will be a reverent remembrance of an uncle I never met, Earl Owen Thresher.

Earl Owen and his fiance in happier times

Earl Owen and his fiance in happier times

Earl Owen (Eardie) was born on December 27, 1921.? He was my mother’s baby brother, the youngest of five children, and my mother loved him dearly.? He had been engaged to a girl, but they had a fight and broke up in October of 1941.? So, as young men often do, he reacted rashly and joined the Marines to get away from it all.? They made up and got back together, but there’s no going back on an enlistment.? After boot camp on Perris Island, he went into the First Maine Division.? Then December 7, 1941, came around.

Earl Owen's enlistment picture

Earl Owen’s enlistment picture

 

You can read a factual account of Earl Owen’s (using first and middle name is a Southern thing) service record by clicking here. ? While he is listed as in the Fifth Marines, he was proud of being in First Marine Division, a part of the Fifth and known as “the Old Breed.”? While they were also called the “Raggedy-Ass Marines,” an officer said that, “the tradition of hard, dirty service started in the First.”? I will not cite the military data from that website, but will tell you what my mother told me.? Earl Owen was not a born soldier.? He wept when he returned for Christmas in 1941, telling how rough it was in the Marines.? This is not a criticism of the Corps, since they were going to fight a tough enemy and had to have tough men, but rather an attempt to convey how difficult a task it is we ask young men (Earl Owen was 19 years old) to do for us.? My mother said he feared he would never see his girlfriend or his family again.? And he did not.? On September 26, 1942, he was killed by enemy machine gun fire while on patrol on Guadalcanal.? His body was never returned to the States.

Earl Owen on his last leave before Guadalcanal.

Earl Owen on his last leave before Guadalcanal.

My mother told me stories of Earl Owen, his wit and his joi de vivre.? She said he always had a smile, a twinkle in his eye.? Once, when he was late for school, she took the blame (and punishment) for him.? It reminds me of how my two older sisters have treated me though the years.? She told me how his girlfriend did not marry or even date for many years after his death.? She told me how much she loved him.? PFC Earl Owen Thresher did not receive a Congressional Medal of Honor, a Silver Star or even a Bronze Star.? He had no Arlington burial.? He was one of many young men who gave their lives for this country and get no recognition.? They fight and die without any press, without any fanfare, without any ticker tape parades.? They just do their duty.? To me, he and his ilk are heroes.? I hope that, on this Memorial Day, he and so many other men who gave their lives for us will not be forgotten.

8 thoughts on “Memorial Day

  1. Beautiful post. I’m so glad you were able to share your thoughts and memories of the uncle you never knew. I agree that these unsung men who no one knows are heroes. Of course they are.

  2. Thank you for such a “THANKFUL TO OUR SOLDIERS” piece. Some of us lose sight of what Memorial Day is truly for and just see it as a day and night to enjoy fireworks. If only they would give tribute to our soldiers before the fireworks began it would make more sense. While I was in the military for only a short time and their was no war or talk of it while I was there, I can say my desire for the military was to make a living and get free housing. Not very honorable or admirable but back then a lot were hoping for this. Nowadays these soldiers know what they might be in for and selflessly give their lives to help others be free. To me they are ALL heroes because they know their life might be taken at any moment yet they walk into it willingly. I was in IRAN during 911 and was severely tortured amongst other things, and while it wasn’t an actual POW camp it was the closest thing I could imagine it to be, thus making me feel empathy for what a lot of our troops are going thru and worse.
    May the troops and all their families feel pride in what they are accomplishing! Salut and carry on: Pugnator magnus for sure!!

    • I have a great-uncle who was on Corregidor and survived the Bataan Death March. I am still researching him and hope to post on him in November.

  3. Pingback: PFC Earl Owen Thresher | Missing Marines

  4. Dear Mr. Cherry,

    Thank you for this lovely piece about Earl Owen Thresher. I run the website Missing Marines to which you linked, and wanted to clear up just one piece of information. According to the muster rolls I’ve obtained, Earl Owen was a member of Company G, Fifth Marines – which is one of the regiments that makes up the First Marine Division (the others being the First, Seventh, and Eleventh Marines). So, the book you have is completely accurate.

    With so many still missing from the Second World War, I’m only rarely able to do more than report on what I can find in Marine Corps documentation, old records, and histories – which unfortunately, as you can see, limits the story I’m able to tell. To appreciate the life of a young man like Earl Owen is, I think, is a far greater act of remembrance than how he met his end. We honor their sacrifices, but we remember their lives.

    Thank you again for sharing, and best wishes for your Memorial Day.

    Geoffrey

    • I apologize for any insult. It was truly not intended. I was only going according to a book given to my grandmother after Earl Owen’s death and showing my ignorance. I do appreciate the work you do and used your enlistment photo on my blog. Mea culpa. Please accept my apology.

      • No apology necessary, Mr. Cherry! Just trying to help out. I would love to include a link to this post on PFC Thresher’s page, with your permission.

        Also, please let me know if I can help with anything else regarding Earl Owen’s military service – records, documentation, anything like that. My email is webmaster@ablecompany24.com.

        Best,
        Geoffrey

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