PFC Julius Worth Copple

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NAME:
Julius Worth Copple
NICKNAME:
Worth
SERVICE NUMBER:
306836
HOME OF RECORD:
Asheboro, NC
NEXT OF KIN:
Mother, Mrs. Fannie Copple
DATE OF BIRTH:
January 11, 1921
ENLISTED:
March, 1941
DATE OF DEATH:
September 27, 1942
CAMPAIGN UNIT MOS RATE FATE
Guadalcanal A/1/7 PFC KIA
CAUSE OF DEATH:
Unknown
INDIVIDUAL DECORATIONS:
Purple Heart
LAST KNOWN RANK:
Private First Class
STATUS OF REMAINS:
Unknown
MEMORIAL:
Oak Grove United Methodist Church, Randolph County, NC
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.


Birth and Early Life:
Julius was born on January 11, 1921, to John “Bert” Copple and his wife, Fannie, of Thomasville, North Carolina. Bert, a machinist, died of pulmonary tuberculosis in 1927, and Fannie moved her four children to Asheboro. Despite the difficult times, all four Copple children attended high school; Worth (as he was known) even graduated before joining the workforce, tending the counter at an Asheboro drug store.

Enlistment and Boot Camp:
Worth joined the Marine Corps in March, 1941. He trained with the Third Recruit Battalion at Parris Island, and was assigned to Company A, First Battalion, 7th Marines that summer.

Service Prior to World War II:
Private Copple was with A/1/7 for the remainder of 1941, and was stationed at New River, North Carolina when Pearl Harbor was attacked.

Wartime Service:
Following the declaration of war, Worth Copple traveled home to spend Christmas and New Year’s with his family. He was promoted to Private First Class in January, 1942, and spent the following eight months training in the States and standing guard in American Samoa.

Copple’s company arrived on Guadalcanal on September 18, 1942. They were shelled by Japanese warships their first night ashore, and their nervousness on the line led to firing at shadows – much to the chagrin of their veteran battalion commander, Lt. Colonel Lewis “Chesty” Puller.

The battalion’s first expedition against the Japanese ended with a sharp fight along the Matanikau River on September 24 that cost Copple’s Company A three dead and a handful of wounded. Companies A and B withdrew to the main Marine position, while planners attempted to determine a way to cross the river.

Date Of Loss:
The answer, arrived at in the early morning hours of September 27, 1942, was to send the bulk of 1/7 behind the Japanese lines by boat, while other Marine forces attempted another crossing. Thus it was that PFC Copple found himself hurrying to gather his gear and ammunition before boarding a small Higgins boat for a short, choppy ride around Point Cruz and up onto a beach on Guadalcanal’s north coast.

The Marines were to advance to a predetermined point – known as Hill 84 – before regrouping  and searching out the Japanese. Company B reached their objective, and were immediately hit by heavy mortar and machine gun fire. Copple’s Company A, landing behind them, were quickly deployed to fight off a strong Japanese infantry force that repeatedly tried to cut them off from the beach. For the entire afternoon, the stranded Marines fought desperately to keep from being overrun; they finally managed a fighting withdrawal to the beach, where they scrambled back aboard the boats and returned to camp.

The disastrous attack took the lives of 24 Marines, including Julius Copple. His remains, if found, were never identified.

For more on this action, see Little Dunkirk.

The Dispatch, Lexington NC, October 26, 1942.
The Dispatch, Lexington NC, October 26, 1942.

Next Of Kin:
Mother, Mrs. Fannie Copple

Status Of Remains:
Unknown

Memorial:
Oak Grove United Methodist Church, Randolph County, NC.
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.

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