On 4 February, the DPAA announced that PFC Royal Lawrence Waltz, of Cambria, California has been accounted for as of 15 May 2019. Read their press release here.
(The below biography was originally posted to PFC Waltz’s biography page on 28 May, 2019).
Royal Lawrence Waltz was born in Hanford, California, on 8 February 1923. He was the son of Royal Leander and Maude (Parrish) Waltz; his siblings, Martha and Freeland Waltz, were already teenagers when young Royal arrived. The family made their home on a dairy farm in rural Kings County.
Little information is known about Royal’s life before the service. According to the 1940 census, he attended high school for one year; this was probably all he completed before enlisting in the Marine Corps on 13 August 1941. After completing boot camp. Private Waltz was immediately assigned to Company “A” of the Second Engineer Battalion, which was then constructing Camp Catlin on the island of Oahu. Waltz came aboard in late October, 1941, and thus had a ringside seat for his country’s entry into World War II.
In April of 1942, the battalion shipped back to the mainland to join the 2nd Marine Division. The following month, Royal’s Company A was temporarily disbanded and the men attached to combat regiments for deployment overseas. Royal himself traveled to the Solomon Islands on the rolls of the Third Battalion, 2nd Marines; he participated in the battle for Guadalcanal as a carpenter. In September 1942, Royal’s company re-formed, and they served out the rest of the campaign as an organic unit.
When the Guadalcanal veterans rejoined the rest of their battalion in New Zealand in the spring of 1943, they were re-designated as Company “A,” First Battalion, 18th Marines – the engineer unit of the 2nd Marine Division. The next several months were spent in training new men and preparing for subsequent combat operations. Injuries were common; Royal was temporarily laid up with a lacerated leg, but stuck to his duties and received a promotion to Private First Class.
Engineer training in New Zealand emphasized destruction more than construction. In combat, platoons of the 18th Marines would be attached to assault companies to destroy bunkers, pillboxes, and other fortifications that threatened the riflemen. PFC Waltz was once again attached to the Third Battalion, 2nd Marines. He would land with them on a stretch of sand designated “Red Beach One” on an island codenamed “HELEN” – Betio, in the Tarawa atoll.
Royal Waltz made it to shore on 20 November 1943, but did not get much farther. He was hit in his first few minutes ashore; friends or corpsmen dragged the bleeding engineer to the slight protection of a sea wall and bandaged his wounds. The unit moved on, leaving PFC Waltz behind.
When it came time to account for the casualties, PFC Waltz’s wound was reported – along with the assumption that he had been evacuated to a hospital ship for additional treatment. His records were even forwarded to the casual battalion of the V Amphibious Corps, with the notation that he was sick in the hospital. It was not until April 1944 that someone realized that PFC Waltz was not in any known hospital – in fact, he had not been seen since 20 November 1943. His status was updated to “missing in action,” and on 21 November 1944, after the traditional year-and-a-day, he was declared dead.
Royal Lawrence Waltz never left Beach Red One. He died at Betio, and was buried on the island as an unknown.
Welcome home, PFC Waltz. Semper Fi.
Recovery information for this Marine has not yet been released.
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