Service Number: O-001526
Birth and Early Life:
Peter Lawson was born in Brooklyn, New York on June 5, 1898. He attended the Cutler School of New York, and was accepted to Princeton University in 1917.
Enlistment and Boot Camp:
Lawson left Princeton in his sophomore year; he wanted to get into naval aviation, but soon found a more appealing branch of the service. On June 8, 1918, he presented himself at the headquarters of the First Squadron, First Marine Aviation Force in Miami, Florida. He was speedily commissioned as a second lieutenant.
Service Prior to 1941:
In August, Lieutenant Lawson was posted overseas to “Field D” Oye, France. (1) Lawson was sick in a British field hospital when the war ended; a week later, he was detached from his squadron and returned to New York. The homecoming was not entirely happy, as he remained in hospital until January 9, 1919. Lawson was relieved from active duty, and remained on inactive status with the Reserves until his discharge in 1922.
For the next twenty years, Lawson thought only rarely about the Corps. He graduated from Princeton with the class of 1920, found work as a stockbroker, married pretty socialite Antoinette Brennig, and eventually headed his own brokerage firm, Peter R. Lawson & Co., from Hartford, Connecticut. In 1940, the Lawsons moved to Manhattan, setting up residence on Lexington Avenue – the better to be on the financial pulse of the Northeast.
The attack on Pearl Harbor caused Lawson to rethink his civilian status. Although now over forty years old, he decided to serve his country once more, and went down to enlist on March 10, 1942. The colonel commanding the 3rd Reserve District handed Lawson a pair of silver first lieutenant’s bars and a set of typewritten orders to report to the Naval Air Station at Quonset Point, Rhode Island. He was to take classes in Naval Air Combat Intelligence, and in July 1942 was assigned to Marine Air Group 23. The group set out for Guadalcanal not long after Lawson – who had quickly made captain – reported as their Assistant Intelligence Officer.
Date Of Loss:
Lawson died on August 19, 1942. He was listed as “buried at sea by administrative decision” – two squadrons of his air group took off for Guadalcanal from the USS Long Island the following day, so Lawson may have been buried from the carrier.
Next Of Kin:
Wife, Mrs. Antoinette Lawson
Status Of Remains:
Buried at sea
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.
(1) Lawson’s specialty was not recorded; however, he was probably not on flight duty given the short turnaround time between his enlistment and his deployment.