PFC Barney Stanley Mikus

Utica Observer-Dispatch, October 25 1942
Utica Observer-Dispatch, October 25 1942

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NAME:
Barney Stanley Mikus
NICKNAME: SERVICE NUMBER:
354208
HOME OF RECORD:
New York Mills, NY
NEXT OF KIN:
Father, Mr. John Mikus
DATE OF BIRTH:
1917
ENLISTED:
January 21, 1942
DATE OF DEATH:
September 27, 1942
CAMPAIGN UNIT MOS RATE FATE
Guadalcanal C/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:
Bronislaw Mikus was born in Whitestown, Oneida County, New York in January, 1917. He was the twelfth child of a large Polish family–his Galician-born parents would eventually have fourteen total–and while John Mikus, the head of the family, worked as a butcher, everyone of age, from Mrs. Theresa Mikus on down, refined cotton in New York Mills, just outside of Utica.

As the years went by and the children married off, the Mikus clan moved apart. John and Theresa moved to a new house at 50 Greenman Avenue in Whitestown; for some reason their son, who had shortened and anglicized his name to Barney Mikus, stayed on as a lodger at his childhood home of 55 Greenman Avenue. Barney left school in the seventh grade – not unusual for his neighborhood – and, like many others, found employment at the cotton mill as a doffer. In his spare time, Mikus played baseball and showed quite a bit of talent; one local newspaper referred to him as the “young hurling ace of New York Mills.”

Enlistment and Boot Camp:
Barney Mikus joined the Marine Corps Reserve on January 21, 1942. He trained at Parris Island, and was posted to Company C, First Battalion, Seventh Marines after boot camp.

Wartime Service:
Mikus was made a PFC on April 10, 1942, as his company sailed for American Samoa aboard the USS Fuller. Though the regiment was ready for action, they would instead spend the next several months performing garrison and guard duty in Samoa.

Barney Mikus and C Company would not see action for several months; they first set foot on Guadalcanal on September 18, over a month after the first assault units had landed. They spent the next few days getting a firsthand lesson in life under fire, taking their stiffest lesson at the hands of Imperial troops stationed along the Matanikau River on September 24. The battalion had been sent to pursue what they thought was a routed enemy force; when they did encounter the Japanese, they were ambushed and stalled. Companies A and B took the brunt of the casualties, although Company C lost one man, PFC Morris Canady, killed in action while covering their withdrawal.

The battalion commander, Lt. Col. Lewis “Chesty” Puller ordered most of his battalion back to the Marine perimeter with the score of wounded they had suffered; Mikus’ Company C became Puller’s personal task force for the next few days as the Marines attempted to force a crossing of the Matanikau River. After a day of maneuvering and a day of attack, which saw the massacre of two companies of the Fifth Marines, Puller and the other officers hit on a plan – they would send the reserve companies of Puller’s 1/7 around behind the Japanese in Higgins boats. The landing would confuse and demoralize the well-emplaced enemy, while the 5th Marines, a detachment of the 1st Raider Battalion, and Charlie Company of the 7th Marines would once again try to get across the river and establish a foothold on the opposite bank. The attack was scheduled for September 27, 1942.

Date Of Loss:
The attack, which would become the culminating event of the Second Battle of the Matanikau, was a disaster from beginning to end.

The companies of 1/7 that were to land behind enemy lines were delayed by a bombing raid, landed without covering fire, and within minutes were hopelessly pinned by Japanese mortar and machine-gun fire, from a force much stronger than expected. Lacking a radio, they couldn’t communicate their distress to Puller, who ordered the river-crossing attack to proceed as planned.

Without the expected support – and without Puller, who personally went to sort out the fiasco developing at Hill 84 – crossing the river was an impossible prospect. The Marines fell back after suffering heavy casualties; among them was PFC Barney Mikus. His remains, if recovered, have never been identified.

mikusarticle
Utica Observer-Dispatch, October 25 1942.

Next Of Kin:
Father, Mr. John Mikus

Status Of Remains:
Unknown

Memorial:
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.

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