Earl Owen Thresher
|HOME OF RECORD:
|NEXT OF KIN:
Mother, Mrs. Betty J. Thresher
|DATE OF BIRTH:
December 27, 1921
October 1, 1941
|DATE OF DEATH:
September 26, 1942
|CAUSE OF DEATH:
|LAST KNOWN RANK:
Private First Class
|STATUS OF REMAINS:
“On the west end of a sandspit along the Matanikau River about 1000 yards west of a road along Beach at Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands”
Zachary Taylor National Cemetery, Louisville KY
Manila American Cemetery & Memorial, Philippines
Birth and Early Life:
Earl Thresher was born December 27, 1921, and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. He was the youngest of five children raised by seamstress Betty Thresher in a small house at 2407 Montgomery Street; his father died sometime in the 1920s, and the children gradually moved away as they married or found other work. Earl graduated from high school, and was searching for regular employment for months before deciding to join the armed forces.
For more on Earl Owen’s life before (and during) his service, please see a tribute written by his nephew, R. L. Cherry.
Enlistment and Boot Camp:
Thresher enlisted in the Marine Corps on October 1, 1941. He was sent to Parris Island and was just completing boot camp when Pearl Harbor was attacked.
By January 1942, Private Thresher was on mess duty with Company G, Second Battalion, 5th Marines. He was promoted to Private First Class that spring, before heading overseas with the rest of his regiment.
Thresher first saw action in the invasion of Tulagi on August 7, 1942. Two weeks of garrison duty and patrolling elapsed before Second Battalion boarded destroyers and were shuttled to Guadalcanal. There, they participated in more patrols, nighttime defense of the Marine perimeter, and even helped the Marine Raiders fight off a determined enemy attack in the battle of Bloody Ridge.
On September 25, PFC Thresher left the comparative safety of the Marine lines. His battalion made its way towards the Matanikau River, where they would relieve a friendly unit and continue the advance into enemy territory.
Date Of Loss:
As Company G attempted to cross the Matanikau on the afternoon of September 26, 1942, a hidden Japanese machine gun opened up on the Marines caught in the water. A second and third soon joined, and soon bullets were tearing through the ranks.
Earl Thresher was hit multiple times by a machine gun, and fell dead in the river. Company G took 24 more casualties before finally falling back to the safety of the trees. Fighting in the area would continue for days.
Thresher’s body was buried “on the west end of a sandspit along the Matanikau River about 1000 yards west of a road along Beach at Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands.” (1) He was never recovered after the war; the current of the Matanikau could have caused his remains to shift, or the location may have been covered in the post-war expansion of the island’s capital, Honiara.
Next Of Kin:
Mother, Mrs. Betty J. Thresher
Status Of Remains:
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.
Zachary Taylor National Cemetery, Louisville, KY.
(1) Earl Thresher’s service record, “Data On Remains Not Yet Recovered Or Identified.” Collection of “devildog34.” This and other items belonging to Earl Thresher are viewable at US Militaria Forum.