Private First Class Jack Henry Gardner

Service Number: 340487

Birth and Early Life:
Jack Gardner was born to Walter and Florence Gardner of Onondaga, New York, around the year 1920. After Walter’s departure in the late 1920s, Florence moved Jack and his sister Ruth to Syracuse; at the age of 20, Jack was working in a local hardware store. (1)

Enlistment and Boot Camp:
Gardner enlisted on January 9, 1942. He was sent to Parris Island where he trained with the Eleventh Recruit Battalion; after leaving training he was posted to Company A, First Marines.

Wartime Service:
Lieutenant Charles Brush, the company commander, decided to promote nearly two dozen of his men to Private First Class in April, 1942 – among those awarded a stripe was Jack Gardner. He trained with the company through the spring of 1942, sailed for New Zealand, and by August 7 was landing on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. Five days later, he took part in a patrol escorting a group of engineers who were scouting sites for a secondary airstrip; marching through the brutal humidity took more of a toll on the Marines than enemy action, though they did learn of a Japanese presence only a few miles from the engineers’ preferred site. When the order came down to return to the area ready  to fight, Gardner’s First Platoon was the unit chosen to make the combat patrol.

Date Of Loss:
The patrol left American lines on the morning of August 19, 1942. They paused for lunch near the village of Papanggu; someone’s memory of a nearby orange grove led them to continue in hopes of supplementing their diet. While on their way, they ran headlong into a group of Japanese soldiers.

In the ensuing melee, thirty-one Imperial soldiers lost their lives; three escaped into the jungle. It was a small victory for these Americans in their first combat experience – but it came at a cost. Three Marines were wounded, and three more – including Gardner – were dead. The dead were buried near where they fell, and in the following weeks of battle their graves were obliterated. (2)

Syracuse Herald - Journal, October 14, 1942. Robert J. Budd would also be listed as unrecovered when the war ended.
Syracuse Herald – Journal, October 14, 1942. Robert J. Budd would also be listed as unrecovered when the war ended.

Next Of Kin:
Mother, Mrs. Florence Gardner

Status Of Remains:
Buried on Guadalcanal

Memorial:
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.

Gardner’s nephew, Jack Gross Sr., is seeking information about his uncle’s service.
_____
NOTES:
(1) 1940 census. Walter Gardner does not appear with the family on census records after 1925; Florence is listed as “head of house,” but also as “married” rather than widowed or divorced.
(2) “The three dead men were left in shallow graves with their boondockers sticking out to aid recovery efforts…” Eric Hammel, Guadalcanal: Starvation Island pg 164. Hammel notes that one Marine was shot immediately upon running into the enemy, another died “in the general melee.” One of these two men was Jack Gardner; the other was Private John C. Buckhalt.

3 thoughts on “Private First Class Jack Henry Gardner

  1. Private John Carmen Buckhalt was my Uncle & I was named after him when I was born 2 Mos. before his death. Although my parents wrote him about this, no mail could be delivered to the Marines at that point due to the Japanese efforts to take back Guadalcanal; these Marines had to be left without sufficient food, equipment & manpower due to Japanese firing on our ships (after Pearl Harbor, the USA could not afford to loose a ship). Uncle Carmen, “Buck” to his close friends, but apparently “Ice Man” to some, was within view of one of his best friends, George Lundgren, who also enlisted in Miami, FL, was close to Carmen when he died, and gave his accounts of the Guadalcanal fighting to the Miami Herald. I have the original clippings in a scrapbook. Carmen was behind a log, firing proficiently at the Japs when he was hit in the arm (another writer who doesn’t appear to have been near, states it was his leg), and that he was holding his arm and began to crawl over toward George. George turned away to get his first aid kit and when he looked back, he saw Carmen as he was shot in the head, dying instantly. He also reported that they carried Carmen’s body back to Henderson Field and buried him there. I will post the newspaper clippings on Private John Carmen Buckhalt’s rememberance page in a few months. If someone has additional information, I and my family would appreciate your post on his page.

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