Sergeant Major Joplin Carl Hord

Service Number: 156901

Birth and Early Life:
Joplin Hord was born around the year 1901; he was the son of Joplin D. and Mary Hord of McLennan, Texas.

Enlistment and Boot Camp:
Hord joined the Marines on November 1, 1919, just over a year after the end of the Great War. His boot training was at Parris Island, and on March 26 1920 he was on his way overseas to join the 27th Company at Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Service Prior to 1941:
The 27th Company was part of the Fourth Regiment, which had been deployed to the Dominican Republic in 1915 to quash the civil war. By the time Private Hord joined the unit, the fighting had long since ended, and most of the men’s duties revolved around training and garrison life. Hord was well suited for life in the service, and was promoted to Private First Class on April 1, 1921. He was sent back to the United States in June, joining the 45th Company, Fifth Regiment at Quantico, Virginia. He was discharged from the service in November, 1921, and returned temporarily to civilian life.

Hord began his second enlistment on March 2, 1923. He returned as a private to the 45th Company, but soon received a promotion to corporal and served as an orderly through June, 1924, when he reported for duty at Naval Operating Base Hampton Roads, Virginia. He shipped out for Haiti with the 54th Company, 2nd Regiment, and in October of 1924 competed in the Inter-Regimental Athletic and Pistol Meet in Port-au-Prince. A year later, he was assigned to the Fourth Regiment in San Diego; a year after that, Corporal Hord became one of the renowned mail guards, toting heavy weaponry against American bandits who plagued the postal service in the west.

After moving to the Fourth Regiment’s headquarters company as a clerk, Hord was promoted to sergeant and traveled to Shanghai, China in February 1927. He finished his overseas tour in November, and returned to California. In the years that followed, Hord was a “walking John” or Marine Corps recruiter – with ten years of service and ribbons on his dress blues, he was an impressive sight to potential boots.

In November, 1930, Sergeant Hord had a billet with the Guard Company at Puget Sound Navy Yard, before moving to the nearby ammunition depot to serve as Mess Sergeant – a position he would hold for nearly six years.

Our mess sergeant, Joplin C. Hord, may be soon daily emerging from the garden laden down with corn, cucumbers, lettuce, carrots, squash, tomatoes, cabbage, beets and other articles of the garden patch. We are fortunate in receiving the surplus garden stuff from all the officers’ gardens. So you see that we have plenty to eat. Pfc. Max O. Richter, our genial first cook, aided by Pfc. Joseph H. Pruitt, as second hand, prepare the food in first class style. When I say first class style I mean that we are eating the best cooked and served food that will be found anywhere in the service. These two boys are conscientious and take great pride in their creations. Hardly a meal passes but that the tables are filled to capacity. The men delay their liberty to partake of the fine dishes prepared by these two boys. Privates “J” “C” Moore and James H. Henson carry the food to the hungry mob. Lately they have been earning their money. With corn in season the task of carrying corn to and the cobs away from the various corn-eating contests is physical exertion of first rank. There is not such a word in this mess room as “there is no more.”

– T. O. Kelly, Leatherneck Magazine, November 1934.

Hord was promoted to Staff Sergeant in July of 1936 and, for a change of scenery and climate, was sent to the Marine Barracks on Guam for six months. Upon returning to California, Hord found himself assigned to a “casual” company, a surplus pool of Marines ready for any assignment. Naturally, Hord managed to become mess sergeant of the casual company before joining the barracks detachment at Mare Island Navy Yard in March, 1939. He managed to return to Puget Sound for a few months in 1940 before receiving a promotion to First Sergeant and a transfer to the USS Astoria in the early spring of 1941.

Wartime Service:
Hord was the senior enlisted Marine aboard the Astoria when Pearl Harbor was bombed, and through the ship’s fighting at the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway. Now in his 24th year of service, Hord was finally being tested in combat situations – though nothing could prepare him for the naval battles off Guadalcanal that August.

Date Of Loss:
First Sergeant Hord was killed when the Astoria was sunk in the Battle of Savo Island on August 9, 1942. His remains were never recovered, and he was listed as missing in action for a year and one day before being declared dead. During that year, Hord received a posthumous promotion to Sergeant Major.

Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, August 22 1943.

For more information on the USS Astoria, please visit

Next Of Kin:
Mother, Mrs. Mary Hord

Status Of Remains:
Lost at sea.

Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.

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