PFC Erwin Shaftsbury King

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NAME:
Erwin Shaftsbury King
NICKNAME:
Shazy
SERVICE NUMBER:
357175
HOME OF RECORD:
West Road, Clarksburg, MA
NEXT OF KIN:
Father, Mr. Erwin C. King
DATE OF BIRTH:
August 11, 1924
ENLISTED:
January 22, 1942
DATE OF DEATH:
September 24, 1942
CAMPAIGN UNIT MOS RATE FATE
Guadalcanal B/1/7 PFC KIA
CAUSE OF DEATH:
Unknown
INDIVIDUAL DECORATIONS:
Purple Heart
LAST KNOWN RANK:
Private First Class
STATUS OF REMAINS:
Buried in the field, vicinity of Matanikau River, Guadalcanal
MEMORIAL:
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial

Birth and Early Life:
Erwin was the sixth child of Erwin Cornelius and Emelia (LaFountain) King. He was born August 11, 1924 in Bennington, Vermont and raised in the town of Clarksburg, Massachusetts, near North Adams.

Enlistment and Boot Camp:
Erwin joined the Marine Corps on January 22, 1942; he was less than halfway through his seventeenth year, and would have needed his parents’ permission to take the oath. He was rushed through Parris Island, but evidently did very well in boot camp as he was promoted to Private First Class before joining Company B, First Battalion, Seventh Marines.

Wartime Service:
PFC King traveled first to California, then to American Samoa with his regiment. Although they had hoped to participate in the initial strikes against the Japanese, the 7th Marines were instead designated as a defense force for Samoa; with the Japanese running rampant across the Pacific, and with the loss of American garrisons at Wake Island and Corregidor, there was a very real fear that Samoa would be a tempting target. However, as 1942 wore on and the Marines began to strike back, it became evident that the Japanese would not be invading; the 7th Marines received orders to proceed to Guadalcanal as reinforcements.

King arrived at Guadalcanal on September 18, 1942, having celebrated his eighteenth birthday aboard a transport. His first few days on the island consisted of combat patrols, enduring the heat of the day and the fear of the night, and basically adapting to life  on the front line.

Date Of Loss:
On September 23, 1942, King’s battalion set off on a reconnaissance of a trail leading to the Matanikau River. They surprised a Japanese outpost in the late afternoon of September 24, and the resulting firefight pinned most of A/1/7.

Erwin King was killed as his company attempted to advance and rescue their trapped comrades. He was buried near where he fell in the jungle near the Matanikau; in the following months and years, the location was lost.

Next Of Kin:
Father, Mr. Erwin C. King

Status Of Remains:
Buried on Guadalcanal

Memorial:
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.

 

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