Private Ingvard T. Aasvik


Ingvard T. Aasvik

Jersey City, NJ
Mother, Mrs. Caroline Olsen
March 4, 1941
October 8, 1942
Guadalcanal G/2/5 Private KIA
Gunshot wounds
Purple Heart
“Interred at forks of Matanikau River, Guadalcanal”
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.

Birth and Early Life:
Ingvard was born in Norway, around the year 1922. His mother, Caroline Matilde Pedersen Aasvik, packed her bags and her boys (Ingvard had an older brother, Einar) in 1925 and set sail on the SS Stavangerfjord, bound for a better life in America. Although they almost didn’t make it in – the Aasviks were detained upon arrival on February 3, 1925 – the three immigrants finally settled in Jersey City, under the care of Caroline’s father in law, Ole Pedersen Aasvik.

The Aasvik children grew up as Jersey boys; Einar, the first to turn eighteen, joined the Marines in July, 1940. Not wanting to be left behind, Ingvard followed his brother’s example, joining up on March 4, 1941.

Enlistment and Boot Camp:
After enlisting in New York and training at Parris Island, Ingvard was assigned to duty in Alexandria, Virginia. He had just attained the rate of Private First Class when Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941.

Wartime Service:
Aasvik started World War II on the wrong foot. He was written up for a double infraction on December 20, 1941; for the crime of being three hours late returning from liberty and then being caught asleep on watch, he lost his PFC’s stripe and was fined a whopping $90 – to be deducted from his pay at the rate of $15 per month. This was particularly chagrining, as Einar – now serving with the quartermaster’s office of the First Marine Division – had just been promoted to sergeant.

The brothers were brought closer together that spring, when Ingvard was transferred to Company G, 2nd Battalion, Fifth Marines. Although they rarely crossed paths on a daily basis – Ingvard was with a rifle company, while Einar was with the division headquarters – they were both stationed at New River, North Carolina, and had a few opportunities for liberty together before the division left for the West Coast, then New Zealand, then combat on Guadalcanal.

Once they reached the Solomon Islands, the brothers’ paths diverged dramatically. While Einar wrangled supplies, Ingvard splashed ashore at Tulagi on August 7, 1942, and was almost immediately under fire in the first major American incursion into enemy territory of the war. Forty-eight hours later, Tulagi was nominally secured and Private Aasvik was a genuine combat veteran.

Following two weeks of patrols and garrison duty, 2/5 boarded a handful of destroyers for the short voyage across the channel to Guadalcanal. There, they participated in familiar patrols and defensive actions, but on a much larger scale. The other two battalions of the 5th Marines had landed on Guadalcanal on D-Day, and were more often used for complicated missions while 2/5 was retained in a supporting role. The first crossing of the Matanikau River in late September changed all that; Company G lost twenty-five men on September 26 alone in a failed attempt to drive the Japanese out of prepared positions on the far bank.  Further advances were halted for a short time; both sides sent out patrols, but were physically and mentally weakened by the stress of the campaign – the enlisted men seemed content to stay in their positions and keep the other side from advancing. Ingvard must have spent a considerable amount of time wishing he could swap places with Einar – the elder Aasvik was on Guadalcanal, but in the comparative safety of division headquarters.

On October 7 the Marines began to move; a five-battalion attack was made against the Japanese 4th Infantry Regiment stationed along the Matanikau. Two battalions of the 5th Marines – Private Aasvik among them – began driving towards the Matanikau River, forcing the Japanese defenders into a small pocket with their backs to the water. The isolated companies of the Japanese 4th Infantry Regiment put up a stubborn resistance, however, and caused a significant number of casualties. A banzai attack that night hit the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, causing mayhem and casualties, but weakened the Japanese force far more than the American one.

Date Of Loss:
Two companies – Easy and George – were detached from the 2nd Battalion at 0900 on October 8, 1942. They were to cross the river, taking advantage of a driving rainstorm, and rendezvous with 3/5 for an attack to the north, hopefully rolling up the Japanese flank. However, by 1006, the companies were calling for casualty evacuation, and by 1212 the attack had been stalled altogether. (1)

Ingvard Aasvik’s company had been assigned the bulk of the flanking mission; as they pushed forward, the young private was shot multiple times through the chest. He was buried the following day, “at forks of Matanikau River, Guadalcanal” – in the months and years following the war, the precise location has been lost.

Einar Aasvik survived the battle of Guadalcanal, but began to run into disciplinary trouble – multiple incidents involved alcohol, and it can only be wondered if grief over his brother’s death was the root cause. Eventually transferred out of the First Marine Division, he was stationed at a depot in Scotia, New York until, busted back down to private, he joined a replacement draft and ended the war in a quartermaster’s storeroom on Guam. Einar was discharged as a PFC in 1946, settled in Albany, and passed away in 1988.

Next Of Kin:
Mother, Mrs. Caroline Olsen

Status Of Remains:
Buried on Guadalcanal

Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.

(1) Division Commander’s Final Report on Guadalcanal Operation, Phase V, Page 121.

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