John Howard Brown, Jr.
|HOME OF RECORD:
314 Edgewood Street, Paris, TN
|NEXT OF KIN:
Mother, Mrs. John Brown Sr.
|DATE OF BIRTH:
December 16, 1941
|DATE OF DEATH:
October 8, 1942
|CAUSE OF DEATH:
Unknown, disappeared in vicinity of Matanikau River
|LAST KNOWN RANK:
Private First Class
|STATUS OF REMAINS:
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial
Birth and Early Life:
John Brown was born and raised in Paris, Tennessee. Little else is known about his life before the war.
Enlistment and Boot Camp:
Brown enlisted on December 16, 1941, barely a week after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He trained with the 4th Recruit Battalion at Parris Island, and was assigned to Company I, 3rd Battalion, Fifth Marines the following January.
Private Brown trained with Company I through training at New River, North Carolina, endured the long voyage to California and the longer one to New Zealand, and made the landing on Guadalcanal on August 7, 1942 – his introduction to combat. The relative quiet of the initial landing was more than offset over the next two months as Brown and his comrades dealt with heat, humidity, malaria, starvation, and Japanese bullets and shells.
On October 7 – two months after they set foot on the Canal – Brown’s Company I was involved in an attack on the much-feared Matanikau River. They ran into an unexpected pocket of entrenched Japanese, and the advance devolved into a twelve-hour firefight that only sputtered out when darkness fell.
Date Of Loss:
In the early morning hours of October 8, the Japanese in the pocket decided to make a break for their main line. Yelling and with bayonets fixed, several hundred Imperial soldiers ran straight into 3/5 hoping to find a weak point in the line. Survivors of the attack would later describe the night as pure mayhem, with men firing into the dark, slashing with knives and bayonets, and even accidentally colliding with their adversaries. The melee continued for hours, until the first morning light revealed a scene of utter devastation – bodies heaped on bodies, the wounded crying for water, Marines searching for squadmates and buddies, and the crack of rifle fire as the last Japanese survivors were ferreted out of hiding.
Private Brown survived the banzai attack, and spent most of October 8 trying vainly to escape an icy downpour that held up the battalion’s advance and made a bad situation even more miserable as the mud deepened, skin wrinkled, and weapons rusted in the rain. He was last seen on the banks of the Matanikau at about 5:00 PM that day – after that, he vanished without a trace. A platoon messenger, PFC Salvatore Speciale, disappeared at the same time – possibly the two had been sent on some errand, but the exact details are unknown.
Brown was listed as “missing in action” for a year and a day; he was finally declared to have been killed in action. No identifiable trace of his remains has been found.
Next Of Kin:
Mother, Mrs. John Brown Senior
Status Of Remains:
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.