Private First Class Blaine Gillespie Walter, Jr.

Private Blaine Walter, 1942.

Photo uploaded to FindAGrave memorial by user Eileen Lentz.

Service Number: 368951

Birth and Early Life:
Blaine Walter was born in Sunbury, Pennsylvania on September 15, 1916 and was raised in Millersburg by his parents, Blaine Senior and Nellie. He attended the Millersburg High School where he participated in a multitude of sports and the school band, composed a few poems, and earned the nickname “Teats.”

After high school, Walter applied and was accepted to Penn State; he changed schools a few times, also attending Franklin & Marshall College and Eckels College of Embalming. In 1940, he was renting his own room and working in a Millersburg ice cream parlor.

Enlistment and Boot Camp:
The attack on Pearl Harbor got Walter out of Millersburg and into Philadelphia, where he joined the Marine Corps on January 27, 1942. Although somewhat elderly for an enlistee – at the advanced age of 25 – Walter did well at Parris Island, and was rewarded with a promotion to Private First Class after completing boot camp.

Wartime Service:
Walter was assigned to the regimental intelligence section of the Fifth Marines at New River. He trained in North Carolina and New Zealand before landing on Guadalcanal on August 7, 1942. Walter was on the island for five days before being chosen for a night patrol led by Colonel Frank Goettge, the division’s intelligence officer.

Date Of Loss:
PFC Walter was killed in action in the early morning hours of August 13, 1942, when the Goettge patrol was ambushed by a Japanese garrison near the Matanikau river. His remains were never recovered – his parents received a box of his personal effects, which consisted of a wallet, fountain pen, flashlight, and two pairs of socks. (1)

A surviving officer of the Intelligence section, Lt. Bryan Adams, wrote the following to Blaine’s parents:

You must, as we who knew and admired him, feel extremely proud of the valiant and courageous way which Blaine made the supreme sacrifice for the Marines and his country. At all times he displayed a ready willingness to accept any task or assignment and I pay tribute to his devotion to duty and fearless bravery in action. (2)

Next Of Kin:
Mother, Mrs. Nellie H. V. Walter

Status Of Remains:
Buried on Guadalcanal

Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.
(1) A Celebration of Millersburg’s Bicentenniel, 1807 – 2007; Nancy L. Wert and Edwin D. Schlegel, editors; page 45. Accessed via the Marlan O Walter Family Tree by user lentze.
(2) Ibid.

4 thoughts on “Private First Class Blaine Gillespie Walter, Jr.

  1. Since Blaine Gillespie Walter, Jr. was born 15 September 1916 in Sunbury, Northumberland, Pennsylvania, and he died 13 August 1942 along the Matanikau River in Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, he would have been 25 years, 10 months, and 29 days old when he died, not 17 years old as suggested in this article.

    1. Thank you for the correction, Eileen! Looks like I made a typo from Pvt Robert Wood Lovelace (who was 17 years, 7 months old when he died on Guadalcanal). I’m sorry for the mistake, and have made the corrections.

  2. Thank you for correcting the record, but also for opening up the greater detail of what happened to him and those that were massacred with him. His brother and sisters were close friends and associates of my husband’s family, but they never shared this detail with us, even if they knew it themselves. You gave me several resources to research this further. I have found several areas that can be used to teach our youth about lessons that will help them survive and thrive in the dangerous world we have today. As an educator, I feel it is important for youth to discover the story as well as the statistics of those they are directly connected to as family or community members. This is the most important thing we can do to honor the ultimate sacrifice of these heroes and perpetuate these true principles. Thank you for your dedication to this cause.

    1. Cheers for the kind words, Eileen. You’re spot on about the need to educate not just future generations, but present ones as well. In some cases, only a little extra legwork is needed to locate burial or crash sites, or to match the graves of unknowns with names on the list of the missing. This is not to say it’s a simple task by any means, but certainly one that can be done – and we owe those missing at least our best attempts to bring them back. For the WW2 generation, time becomes an issue as family members or comrades who knew the missing personally grow older. Once they’re gone, the extra connection is lost.

      Sadly, for those on Col. Goettge’s patrol, what little hope there was of finding remains grows ever dimmer. There have been many attempts to locate a reported burial trench in the area over the years, but more recent stories from eyewitnesses indicate that instead of being buried, the bodies were scattered around the area. Patrols that found remains were under orders – just whose remains unclear – not to touch or bury them, and eventually they were lost. Imagine the frustration and anger of those men, some of whom were seeing the remains of Marines they knew, unable to help and then to know for decades the dead were unrecovered.

      It is stories like these that will keep the memories of the Greatest Generation alive for generations to come, and for your work educating those future generations, I applaud you. If I can be of any further help, please email me at and I’ll be glad to do what I can.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s