Private John Roscoe Lilly

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NAME:
John Roscoe Lilly
NICKNAME: SERVICE NUMBER:
334442
HOME OF RECORD:
Knoxville, TN
NEXT OF KIN:
Father, Mr. Roscoe Lilly
DATE OF BIRTH:
September 19, 1920
ENLISTED:
December, 1941
DATE OF DEATH:
September 25, 1942
(September 17, 1942)
CAMPAIGN UNIT MOS RATE FATE
Guadalcanal B/1/1 Private KIA
CAUSE OF DEATH:
Unknown
INDIVIDUAL DECORATIONS:
Purple Heart
LAST KNOWN RANK:
Private
STATUS OF REMAINS:
Presumed buried in the field
MEMORIAL:
Woodlawn Cemetery, Knoxville, TN
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.

Birth and Early Life:
John Lilly was born on September 19, 1920. He grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee with his parents, Roscoe and Christine Lilly, and attended Knoxville High School.

Enlistment and Boot Camp:
Lilly joined the Marine Corps a few days after the attack on Pearl Harbor; he trained with the 3rd Recruit Battalion at Parris Island before being assigned to Company B, First Battalion, 1st Marines.

Wartime Service:
Private Lilly settled in with B/1/1; he may have made friends with one of his platoon mates, Private Mickey Boschert, a fellow Tennessee native who enlisted on the same day. Company B traveled from its marshaling grounds at New River, North Carolina to New Zealand, where they were informed that they would be off to invade Japanese territory in a matter of days. From August 7 to September 16, 1942, Lilly was on the front lines of the battle of Guadalcanal, performing any task from setting up and holding defensive positions to making aggressive combat patrols and even some heavy fighting along the Ilu River.

Date Of Loss:
Lilly’s platoon was in the lead of a patrol by their parent battalion, 1/1, on the morning of September 17, 1942. They were on the trail of Japanese troops who had recently been defeated in the famous battle of Bloody Ridge, and found them – or, more accurately, were found by them – around 1330 hours that day. The lead platoon ran directly into an ambush, and was completely cut off. After two and a half hours of fighting, the rest of the Marines disengaged, leaving the trapped men to their fate.

Eighteen Marines were lost in the Japanese trap. Their remains were not discovered until September 25, which was officially declared their date of death. Nine of these men – including John Lilly – are still listed as missing in action, their ultimate fates unknown. (1)

For more details about this patrol, see Platoon Sergeant Leon W. McStine.

Next Of Kin:
Father, Mr. Roscoe Lilly

Status Of Remains:
Unknown

Memorial:
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.
Woodlawn Cemetery, Knoxville, TN.
The John Lilly Detachment of the Marine Corps League, based in eastern TN.
_____
NOTES:
(1) No survivors were located by this follow-up patrol, led by Major Marion Fawcett. Although the Marines were likely all killed on the day they were trapped, they were officially declared dead as of September 25.

Why nine remain “missing” is unknown. Some at least were identified when buried, others may have been impossible to identify. Precise details are not known at this time, but it seems likely that the passage of time made some of the graves impossible to locate (a not uncommon occurrence on Guadalcanal). It seems likely that Private Lilly is still in a “temporary” grave.

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