Private Donald Joseph Verheyden

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NAME:
Donald Joseph Verheyden
NICKNAME: SERVICE NUMBER:
374220
HOME OF RECORD:
Oneida, WI
NEXT OF KIN:
Father, Mr. Anton Verheyden
DATE OF BIRTH:
May 21, 1921
ENLISTED:
March 17, 1942
DATE OF DEATH:
October 9, 1942
CAMPAIGN UNIT MOS RATE FATE
Guadalcanal B/1/2 Private KIA
CAUSE OF DEATH:
Drowning
INDIVIDUAL DECORATIONS:
Purple Heart
LAST KNOWN RANK:
Private
STATUS OF REMAINS:
Lost at sea, Sealark Channel
MEMORIAL:
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial


Birth and Early Life:
Donald Verheyden was born in 1921; his parents, Anton and Ida Verheyden, raised him in Oneida, Wisconsin.

Enlistment and Boot Camp:
Verheyden enlisted in the Marine Corps on March 17, 1942. He was rushed through boot camp at Recruit Depot San Diego, and packed off to join Company B, Second Marines shortly before they shipped out for overseas duty in the late spring of 1942

Wartime Service:
Private Verheyden made his first combat landing on August 7, 1942; his company assaulted Florida Island in support of the landings on Guadalcanal just a few miles away. They encountered no live enemy and quickly secured their objective. Later that day 1/2nd Marines re-boarded their landing craft to return to the USS President Jackson, but Company B was diverted and ordered to make a landing on Tanambogo under cover of darkness. Planners hoped that the assault would relieve some of the pressure on the Paramarines fighting on nearby Gavutu, but the Japanese discovered the company’s boats and opened fire. Only a third of the men, mostly from First Platoon, made it to shore; the rest were driven off. The role that Verheyden’s Second Platoon played is unknown, but they likely never touched dry land on Tanambogo.

Company B rejoined their battalion on now-conquered Tulagi a few days later. For the next two months, they garrisoned the tiny island. There were no Japanese to fight and little else to do; the men occupied themselves by building shelters, constructing fortifications they would never use (at least one company built a double line of barricades from sharpened eight foot logs, simply to stay busy), standing guard duty, and battling boredom. The first cases of malaria and dysentery were reported, and the worst cases evacuated.

Date Of Loss:
On October 9, 1942, Lieutenant Floyd E. Parks called his platoon together for a briefing. They were finally leaving Tulagi and heading for the fighting on Guadalcanal – and would be making a combat landing at the village of Aola, thirty miles from the nearest friendly forces. Most of the Marines welcomed this break in the monotony, and spent the day packing up their few belongings and combat loading their packs.

That evening, Second Platoon climbed into a Higgins boat tethered to a YP craft that would tow them the twenty miles from Tulagi to Aola. Night had fallen by the time they reached the center of Sealark Channel; the plywood Higgins boats groaning and creaking under the strain of their load. Each YP boat towed four Higgins boats lashed together in a chain, which meant the first boat in the chain took the most stress.

Don Verheyden and his platoon were unfortunate enough to be in the first boat. When their YP suddenly increased its speed, the plywood hull of the Higgins boat split in half, dumping Second Platoon into the channel. Loaded down as they were for a combat landing, many of the Marines never had a chance to get out of their gear. Fourteen Marines of Second Platoon – including Private Verheyden – drowned in the channel, vanishing without a trace.

Next Of Kin:
Father, Mr. Anton Verheyden

Status Of Remains:
Lost at sea.

Memorial:
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.

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