Service Number: 272764
Birth and Early Life:
Charles John Baxtrom was born in Chicago on November 8, 1919. His parents, Charles and Anna Moore Baxtrom, were barely into their twenties and had been married only the previous April; Anna lived at home with her family and infant son while Charles went out for work.
The little family did not last long. The older Charles died suddenly in 1922 at the age of 24; Anna remarried to Frank Kenneally in 1925, and passed away herself in 1931. (1) Charles John grew up with his Kenneally siblings and his Moore cousins, becoming especially close to his aunt Genevieve – she was only eight years his senior. Charles continued to live in Chicago until reaching the age of nineteen.
Enlistment and Boot Camp:
Baxtrom enlisted in the Marine Corps on June 5, 1939. He served with the 9th Reserve Battalion based in Chicago until October, 1941, at which time he reported to San Diego. Private Baxtrom was accepted to Sea School and was there when Pearl Harbor was attacked in December.
Upon completing his training, Baxtrom was sent to Pearl Harbor where, in the spring of 1942, he was assigned to the Marine detachment of the USS Astoria. He served aboard the “Nasty Asty” through the summer of 1942, seeing service in the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway. The Astoria returned to Pearl Harbor in May, 1942, participated in a last round of exercises, and set off for the Solomon Islands.
Date Of Loss:
In the early morning hours of August 9, 1942, the Americans off Guadalcanal was surprised by a Japanese force that ran amok through the fleet. The resulting Battle of Savo Island was the worst blue-water defeat in American naval history. Astoria was badly mauled during the fight; her sister ships Quincy and Vincennes were both sunk. Damage crews managed to keep Astoria afloat until daylight, but she was too far gone to be saved. The cruiser capsized and sank shortly after noon, taking with her 234 sailors and Marines.
One of those lost was Charles Baxtrom. His remains were never found.
For more information on the USS Astoria, please visit http://www.ussastoria.org
Next Of Kin:
Aunt, Miss Genevieve Moore
Status Of Remains:
Lost at sea
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.
(1). The Keneally family had several children; Charles (Baxtrom), Millard, Anna, Lorraine, and an unnamed infant who died shortly after birth in 1926. Charles’ reasons for keeping his father’s surname and naming his Moore aunt as next of kin may indicate poor relations between stepfather and stepson, but this is only speculation.