PFC Joseph B. Raleigh

Joe Raleigh at Augusta Military Academy, 1941. Photo source (PDF)
Joe Raleigh at Augusta Military Academy, 1941. Photo source (PDF)

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NAME:
Joseph B. Raleigh
NICKNAME:
Joe
SERVICE NUMBER:
356021
HOME OF RECORD:
Roanoke, VA
NEXT OF KIN:
Father, Mr. Joseph M. Raleigh
DATE OF BIRTH:
~1924
ENLISTED:
January 9, 1942
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:
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.


Birth and Early Life:
Joseph Raleigh was born in Virginia around the year 1924. He grew up in Roanoke, the second child of a fairly well-to-do family–both of his parents held respectable white-collar jobs. Evidently quite intelligent, Joseph had completed four years of high school by the age of sixteen, attended the prestigious Augusta Military Academy, and probably found many opportunities to play the genteel young sophisticate with the college-aged ladies who rented rooms in the Raleigh house.

Enlistment and Boot Camp:
The easy life ended for Raleigh on December 7, 1941; within a month he had persuaded his parents to let him join the armed forces, and he entered the Marine Corps as a private on January 9, 1942. He was posted to Company A, First Battalion, 7th Marines after training at Parris Island, and made Private First Class on April 10, 1942.

Wartime Service:
Joseph Raleigh spent the following eight months training in the States and standing guard in American Samoa.

His 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 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. PFC Raleigh 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. Raleigh’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.

Joseph Raleigh was among the 24 Marines who lost their lives in the abortive operation. His remains, if found, were never identified.

For more on this action, see Little Dunkirk.

Next Of Kin:
Father, Mr. Joseph M. Raleigh

Status Of Remains:
Unknown

Memorial:
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.

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