Private Claude Gay Childers


Photograph from Pvt. Childers’ FindAGrave memorial.

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NAME:
Claude Gay Childers
NICKNAME: SERVICE NUMBER:
320888
HOME OF RECORD:
St. Mary’s WV
NEXT OF KIN:
Parents, Sherman & Bessie Childers
DATE OF BIRTH:
December 13, 1924
ENLISTED:
1941
DATE OF DEATH:
September 14, 1942
CAMPAIGN UNIT MOS RATE FATE
Guadalcanal A/1/1 PFC KIA
CAUSE OF DEATH:
Unknown
INDIVIDUAL DECORATIONS:
Purple Heart
LAST KNOWN RANK:
Private First Class
STATUS OF REMAINS:
Unknown; probable field burial
MEMORIAL:
Manila American Cemetery & Memorial

Birth and Early Life:
Claude Childers was born in Pleasants County, West Virginia in 1924. He was the fourth of five children born to coal burner Sherman Childers and his wife, Bessie.

Enlistment and Boot Camp:
Childers enlisted in the Marine Corps in November or December of 1941. After completing boot camp, most likely at Parris Island, Private Childers was assigned to duty at Quantico, Virginia.

Wartime Service:
For the first few months of his service, Private Childers worked as a messman in the galley and mess hall of Quantico’s Officer Candidate School. He transferred to Company A, First Battalion, First Marines in the spring of 1942 for training at New River, North Carolina, then shipped to Wellington, New Zealand in July where his division hurriedly prepared for the invasion of Guadalcanal.

Private Childers landed on Guadalcanal on August 7, 1942. His company participated in heavy fighting in the early days of the campaign, including the famous battle of the Tenaru, where his regiment destroyed the Ichiki Detachment.  For the rest of August and the first two weeks of September, the regiment held their positions along the Lunga river, sending out occasional patrols, but mostly enduring the heat, bad food, and damp, sickly atmosphere.

Date Of Loss:
As the fighting on nearby Bloody Ridge died out in the early morning of September 14, 1942, orders came for Lieutenant Colonel Lenard Cresswell to advance and intercept the retreating Japanese. Two companies of his First Battalion, First Marines set out at daylight and advanced up the banks of the Lunga River. Around 1100, they ran into a Japanese bivouac defended by infantry with automatic weapons. After a brief firefight, the Marines withdrew back to their perimeter.

The Americans lost three wounded and one killed in this encounter; the dead Marine was probably Claude Childers. (1)

Next Of Kin:
Parents, Sherman & Bessie Childers

Status Of Remains:
Unknown

Memorial:
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.
_____
NOTES:
(1) USMC Monograph, The Guadalcanal Campaign. The name of the lost Marine is not recorded in most readily available accounts, but this advance by Cresswell is the major operation of the day, and the fact that it ended in a Marine withdrawal would have made recovery of a body more difficult if not impossible.

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