Private Philip Samuel Kuhl

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NAME:
Philip Samuel Kuhl
NICKNAME: SERVICE NUMBER:
351600
HOME OF RECORD:
Corona, Queens, NY
NEXT OF KIN:
Wife, Mrs. Philip Kuhl
DATE OF BIRTH:
August 15, 1916
ENLISTED:
January 10, 1942
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:
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.

Birth and Early Life:
Philip Kuhl was born August 8, 1916 and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He attended school through the eighth grade before dropping out–like many of his generation, a good job was more practical than education. At the age of eighteen, he managed to secure a position as a bellboy on the liner SS Pennsylvania – when his first cruise took him all the way to San Francisco (via Havana), the slight young Brooklynite was hooked. For nearly six years Kuhl traveled across the Atlantic and through the Caribbean with a variety of ships, finally returning home when the family patriarch, Philip Senior, passed away. By 1940, all of the younger Kuhls were employed in blue-collar jobs in their home borough – from firefighters to waitresses or, like Philip, platform workers for Railway Express Agency. (1)

Enlistment and Boot Camp:
Kuhl enlisted on January 10, 1942, and trained at Parris Island. Upon graduation he was assigned to Company B, First Battalion, 1st Marines, then forming at New River, North Carolina.

Wartime Service:
Private Kuhl served with B/1/1 from graduation through Guadalcanal, where he landed on August 7, 1942.  For more than five weeks, he participated in patrols into the unfamiliar jungle, and took part in the mop-up of the vicious battle of the Tenaru, where his regiment helped to destroy a much stronger enemy force.

Date Of Loss:
Private Kuhl’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 battalion was forced to disengage, 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 Mickey Boschert–are still listed as missing in action, their ultimate fates unknown. (2)

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

Notice of Kuhl's death appeared in the Brooklyn Eagle on November 12, 1942. Also listed is his platoon sergeant, Leon McStine.
Notice of Kuhl’s death appeared in the Brooklyn Eagle on November 12, 1942. Platoon Sergeant Leon McStine and Private Elmer Garrettson also died on the patrol.

Next Of Kin:
Wife, Mrs. Mary Kuhl (3)

Status Of Remains:
Unknown

Memorial:
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.
_____
NOTES:
(1) The last available census records (1940) show the Kuhl family all residing in the same house in Brooklyn. Philip was married, probably in 1941, and moved out of the family home to live with his wife in Flushing, Queens.
(2) 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 Kuhl is still in a “temporary” grave.

(3) Mary Kuhl penned the following notice for Leatherneck Magazine in 1948:
“Mrs. Mary Kuhl, 3503 – 100 St., Corona, N. Y., concerning the death of her husband, Private Philip S. Kuhl, USMCR, killed in action on Guadalcanal, 25 September, 1942. His last known address was Marine Corps Unit #330, c/o FPO, San Francisco, Calif. Previous to that he had been in platoon 81 at Parris Island.”

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