PFC Larry John Schuler


Lawrence John Schuler
Aurora, IN
Mother, Mrs. Cecilia Schuler
January 27, 1942
September 27, 1942
Guadalcanal D/1/7 PFC KIA
Purple Heart
Private First Class
River View Cemetery, Aurora, IN
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.

Birth and Early Life:
On October 4, 1922, a son was born to Edward and Cecilia Schuler of Aurora, Indiana. Although baptized John Lawrence Schuler, he went by Larry through his youth in the small city on the banks of the Ohio River. Edward ran his own machinist shop in Center Township; the family business was staffed by Larry’s aunt and uncle. Somehow the business dissolved in the 1930s, and the Schulers turned to farm work.

Larry Schuler finished high school in 1940. After a year in the civilian workforce, he enlisted in the Marine Corps.

Enlistment and Boot Camp:
Schuler joined up on October 21, 1941, less than a fortnight after his nineteenth birthday. He was sent to Parris Island for training, and was just completing boot camp when Pearl Harbor was attacked.

Wartime Service:
Immediately after receiving the Eagle, Globe and Anchor insignia of a real Marine in December 1941, Private Schuler was dispatched to New River, North Carolina to join First Battalion, Seventh Marines. He was allowed a brief furlough over the holidays – just long enough for a visit home to Indiana – before beginning his duties with Company D of the 7th. Schuler’s company was the battalion’s weapons outfit; he trained on heavy mortars or machine guns. (1) He proved to be a capable young man, and was promoted to Private First Class on January 31, 1942.

The 7th Marines spent the next few months training at New River before shipping overseas – not for combat, as they had anticipated, but for defense duty in Samoa. As 1942 continued and the threat of Japanese invasion diminished, defense duty became garrison duty – and while the scenery was beautiful and the Samoan natives friendly, the men of the 7th couldn’t help but feel overlooked as their comrades in the First and Fifth Marines invaded Guadalcanal, and the Second Raider Battalion, encamped nearby, executed a daring raid on Makin Atoll.

In late August, Schuler’s regiment received orders to move, and by September 18 they were splashing ashore on Guadalcanal and setting up defensive positions – a wise move, as they were shelled by the Japanese that very night, suffering their first casualties. The very next morning battalion commander Lt. Col. Lewis “Chesty” Puller, a hard-charger who believed in aggressive action, began dispatching combat patrols. The heavy weapons of Schuler’s company were not easily portable, so many members of Company D were left to guard the main perimeter while the faster-moving rifle companies made their combat patrols.

It is likely that Schuler spent most of his first week on Guadalcanal in the comparative safety of the main Marine line. He watched the rifle companies, along with a platoon of his company’s machine guns, depart for a longer patrol towards the Matanikau River on September 23, and saw them return bearing two dozen stretcher cases on September 25. The Marines had taken a bloody nose from the Japanese along the Matanikau, and Puller had ordered most of them to return to base to await further orders. The following day passed quietly, with little word from Puller who was still out in the jungle with Company C.

Date Of Loss:
On Sunday, September 27, 1942, the riflemen of Companies A and B began bustling about, gearing up for another combat patrol – this one would have them landing from small boats behind the enemy lines. A few of men from Company D – one mortar team and a handful of machine gunners – were picked to accompany the assault troops; PFC Schuler was among them.

After making their landing and advancing about 500 yards to a low ridge designated Hill 84, the Marines came under a fierce, unexpected attack from a strong force of Japanese troops who plastered them with mortars, light artillery, and machine-gun fire. Before long, the Imperial troops had filtered in behind the Marines, surrounding them on their exposed position and cutting them off from the beach. With no means of escape, a dead battalion commander, no radio, and only 50 rounds of mortar ammunition, 1/7 was in a tight spot.

Somewhere in this melee, PFC Larry Schuler was hit and fell to the ground, dead. His comrades, hard pressed to defend themselves, had no time to recover their fallen and fought their way back to the beach, where they scrambled back aboard their landing craft and returned to the safety of their bivouac. When the hill was finally taken by the Raiders a few days later, only a few of the bodies of 1/7’s dead were found; as the years went by, more remains were found, but only a few could be identified.

PFC Schuler was not among them. His remains may still lie where he fell on Hill 84, now a residential neighborhood of Guadalcanal’s capital.

For more on this action, see Little Dunkirk.

Next Of Kin:
Mother, Mrs. Cecilia Schuler

Status Of Remains:

River View Cemetery, Aurora, IN.
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.
(1) Unfortunately, readily available muster rolls do not indicate Schuler’s specialty; he may have been a crewman for an M1917 Browning machine gun, an 81mm M2 mortar, served as a platoon runner, or any number of responsibilities.

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