The DPAA has recently announced the positive identification of three more WWII Marines.
Sergeant John Charlton Holladay of Paxville, South Carolina.
Sergeant Holladay was a member of Company B, First Marine Raider Battalion. “Johnny” was known in equal measure for his musical and sharpshooting abilities, as recorded in Joseph H. Alexander’s Edson’s Raiders:
Johnny Holliday was thirty, a native of Florence, SC, a free spirit who could make a guitar sing and knew all twenty seven verses of the ballad “John Henry.” He could also shoot the eyes out of an ant with “Ol’ Lucifer,” his well-oiled Springfield. As recorded by PFC John H. Gann, a Baker radio operator, Holladay took aim at a sniper in a distant palm tree [on Tulagi] and carefully squeezed the trigger. Nothing. “Better shoot him again,” suggested 1Sgt Brice Maddox. Holladay demurred: “Top, ol’ Lucifer don’t lie; he’ll fall in a minute.” Gann and Maddox then shook their heads in amazement as the sniper’s body slid out of the tree.
As a corporal, Holliday fought on Tulagi and on Guadalcanal through the battle of Edson’s Ridge; he was evacuated for illness shortly thereafter, but was back on duty by the end of 1942. In early 1943, he was promoted to the rank of sergeant.
Holliday was killed in action during the unsuccessful attack on Bairoko, during the New Georgia campaign. A fellow raider, Marlin “Whitey” Groft, recalled the incident in his memoir Bloody Ridge And Beyond:
In our company, dead-eye marksman Sergeant John Holladay, whose trusty Springfield, Old Lucifer, had sent many a Jap to meet his ancestors, was crouched down by a tree with Corpsman James Boren. A cry of “corpsman” came up from the fighting just ahead, and Boren responded. As he left Holladay to go forward, he heard a rifle shot, loud and close by. A sinking feeling concerning Holladay suddenly hit the corpsman, he returned to the tree to find the young sergeant dead, a victim of a Jap sniper lurking in one of the many trees. Johnny would never sing “John Henry” again, and I later read where Vince Cassidy eulogized him by saying “The last string is broken, the melody died. He is dead at Bairoko, and with him lies “John Henry.”
According to the DPAA release, Sergeant Holladay’s remains were returned to an investigation team by a local resident; “additional remains and evidence” were recovered at the site. After a rigorous and thorough test, the identification of Sergeant Holladay was announced on March 28, 2016.
Sergeant Holladay was buried with full military honors at the Florence National Cemetery on April 4, 2016.
PFC John Frederick Prince of Bellerose, New York.
PFC Anthony Brozyna of Hartford, Connecticut.
PFCs Prince and Brozyna, members of the 8th Marines (Fox and George Companies, respectively), were both killed in action on Tarawa, Betio Atoll, on 20 November 1943. These two Marines, aged nineteen and twenty-two, were among those discovered by the History Flight team in 2015. Their identifications were released within the last week; while the DPAA has not yet issued a formal release, they have made the announcement on their Recently Accounted For page. Further details about final burials for these two young men should be announced shortly.
Thanks to constant commenter and redoubtable news source TF, and to Jennifer S. Morrison for news of this announcement. Photo of PFC Broznya provided by Jennifer S. Morrison.