PFC Gerald Paul Hopkins

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NAME:
Gerald Paul Hopkins
NICKNAME:
SERVICE NUMBER:
301889
HOME OF RECORD:
Scranton, PA
NEXT OF KIN:
Father, Mr. William Hopkins
DATE OF BIRTH:
1922
ENLISTED:
November 20, 1940
DATE OF DEATH:
September 26, 1942
CAMPAIGN UNIT MOS RATE FATE
Guadalcanal G/2/5 Radioman (?) PFC KIA
CAUSE OF DEATH:
Unknown
INDIVIDUAL DECORATIONS:
Purple Heart
LAST KNOWN RANK:
Private First Class
STATUS OF REMAINS:
Unknown
MEMORIAL:
Manila American Cemetery & Memorial, Philippines


Birth and Early Life:
Gerald was the son of Scranton, PA mail carrier William Hopkins and his wife, Elizabeth Kelly Hopkins of Pittston. (1) Sadly, Elizabeth fell ill in 1931; when she passed away the following July, William was left in charge of Joseph, William Junior, Mary, Genevieve, Vincent, Martin, Rose, Gerald and John.

As his older brothers left home for college and jobs of their own, Gerald decided that his future lay with the armed forces. Not long after his eighteenth birthday, he joined the Marine Corps. (2)

Enlistment and Boot Camp:
Hopkins enlisted on November 20, 1940, and was sent to Parris Island for boot camp. He showed an aptitude for communications, and when he finished his initial training in January 1941 was sent to the Signal Detachment at Quantico, Virginia.

Service Prior to World War II:
Private Hopkins attended radio school at Quantico for the first several months of 1941. He later reported to the 13th Provisional Marine Company, stationed at Quonset Point, Rhode Island. Although his specific duties at the naval air station weren’t recorded, Hopkins was probably engaged as a radio operator; he proved a competent Marine and earned a promotion to Private First Class shortly before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Wartime Service:
PFC Hopkins left Rhode Island at the end of January, 1942, with orders to travel to New River, North Carolina. Upon arriving, he was assigned to Company G, Second Battalion, 5th Marines, and probably carried a radio for one of the company officers – likely the commander, Captain Harold T. A. Richmond.

Hopkins 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 Hopkins 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:
Gerald Hopkins was killed in action as his company tried to cross the Matanikau River on September 26, 1942. His remains, if recovered, were probably buried near where he fell; the location has been lost in the decades following the battle.

The Evening News, Harrisburg PA, 23 October 1942.
The Evening News, Harrisburg PA, 23 October 1942.

Next Of Kin:
Father, Mr. William C. Hopkins

The Pittston Gazette, 6 August 1943.

Status Of Remains:
Unknown

Memorial:
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.
_____
NOTES:
(1) Pennsylvania newspapers note that “the former Miss Elizabeth Kelly” was descended from the pioneer settlers of Pittston.
(2) Joseph, Vincent, and Martin Hopkins would enlist in the Army in the following years. William Junior had a wartime job at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

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