Robert E. Schantz
|HOME OF RECORD:
|NEXT OF KIN:
Mother, Mrs. Blanche Naber
|DATE OF BIRTH:
January 12, 1942
|DATE OF DEATH:
October 8, 1942
|CAUSE OF DEATH:
|LAST KNOWN RANK:
|STATUS OF REMAINS:
“Interred in the field.”
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.
Birth and Early Life:
Robert Schantz was born in Onondaga, New York, around the year 1921. He was the second of three sons raised by Joseph and Blanche Schantz on their farm outside of Syracuse; when Joseph died in the 1930s, Blanche remarried Norman J. Naber and moved her boys to Cazenovia. Robert left school in the eighth grade to help out on his stepfather’s farm.
Enlistment and Boot Camp:
Schantz enlisted in the Marine Corps on January 12, 1942; he trained at Parris Island and then at New River, North Carolina with his new unit, Company E, 2nd Battalion, Fifth Marines. During these few months of getting used to military life, Private Schantz maintained an unusual service record – not for being in trouble, but for being one of the few enlisted men in the company not brought up for disciplinary action.
Schantz crossed the country, and then the Pacific Ocean in the spring and summer of 1942; after an all-too-brief stop in New Zealand, the First Marine Division invaded the British Solomon Islands. Private Schantz first saw combat on August 7, when his battalion landed on the small island of Tulagi, off Guadalcanal. The Japanese garrison was eliminated within two days; Schantz and his comrades spent the remainder of the month guarding the Tulagi beach before crossing Sealark Channel to Guadalcanal itself.
Schantz survived the famous battle for Bloody Ridge, and managed to evade Japanese bullets in the opening phases of the Second Battle of the Matanikau; dozens of others from his battalion were killed or wounded attempting to cross the shallow river on September 26. 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.
Tactics changed on October 7; a five-battalion attack was made against the Japanese 4th Infantry Regiment stationed along the Matanikau. Two battalions of the 5th Marines – including Schantz’s Company E – 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)
One of the casualties – and Easy Company’s only fatality in the attack – was Private Schantz.
The “exact location” was never located after the war; in all likelihood, Robert Schantz still lies in what should have been a temporary grave on Guadalcanal.
Next Of Kin:
Mother, Mrs. Blanche Naber
Status Of Remains:
Buried in the field, Guadalcanal. Service record book may have map overlay showing location.
(1) Division Commander’s Final Report on Guadalcanal Operation, Phase V, Page 121.