Ingvard T. Aasvik

Ingvard Thorvald Aasvik
Company G
Second Battalion
5th Marines
23 Randolph Avenue, Jersey City, NJ
Mother, Mrs. Caroline M. Olsen
September 26, 1921
March 4, 1941
October 8, 1942
Solomon Islands
Killed In Action
On 8 October 1942, the Second Battalion, 5th Marines attacked a Japanese salient on the banks of the Matanikau River. Companies E and G were ordered to cross near a creek junction at 0906, but by 1212 both companies had been stopped by heavy machine gun and rifle fire from the opposite bank.

Private Ingvard Aasvik of G/2/5 was shot in the chest during the attack, and died of his wounds near the crossing site. The following day, he was buried at a fork in the river. The site could not be located after the war

Purple Heart
“Interred at forks of Matanikau River”
9 October 1942
Manila American Cemetery

Ingvard was born in Drammen Norway, in September 1921. His mother, Caroline Matilde Pedersen Aasvik, packed her bags and her boys (Ingvard had an older brother, Einar) in early 1925 and set sail on the SS Stavangerfjord, bound for a new life in America. Although they almost didn’t make it in – the Aasviks were detained upon arrival on February 3, 1925 – the family settled in Jersey City, under the care of Caroline’s father-in-law, Ole Pedersen Aasvik.

Ole was a carpenter working on the docks, and may have helped introduce Caroline to her next husband, Edward Olsen, a dock builder. Over the next fifteen years, they raised the two boys as Olsens in Jersey City. Einar and Ingvard both attended high school, but faced with the prospect of low-paying labor jobs, elected to join the Marine Corps. Einar went first in July, 1940, followed by Ingvard on 4 March 1941. Interestingly, both boys enlisted under their Aasvik surname.

Ingvard trained at Parris Island, and was assigned to duty in Alexandria, Virginia. He had just attained the rate of Private First Class when Pearl Harbor was attacked, and had the misfortune to run afoul of rapidly tightening military discipline that month. For the crime of returning from liberty three hours late,  and then being caught asleep on watch, he lost his PFC stripe and was fined a whopping $90 to be deducted from his pay at the rate of $15 per month.

In the spring of 1942, Ingvard was transferred to Company G, 2nd Battalion, Fifth Marines (G/2/5). The abrupt transition from a guard company to a rifle unit was eased somewhat by being posted closer to his older brother. Sergeant Einar Aasvik, a quartermaster with the First Marine Division Headquarters, was also stationed at New River, North Carolina. Within a few months, the brothers departed for the West Coast, and were soon on their way to New Zealand and combat in the Solomon Islands. While Einar wrangled supplies, Ingvard splashed ashore at Tulagi and took part in one of the first American combat landings of the war. Forty-eight hours later, Tulagi was nominally secured and Private Aasvik was a genuine combat veteran.

Two weeks of patrolling and garrison duty followed before 2/5 shipped over to Guadalcanal. As the comparatively new arrivals – their sister battalions, 1/5 and 3/5, had landed on Guadalcanal on 7 August – the Second Battalion was employed in a defensive role, most notably at the battle of Edson’s Ridge in mid-September. There, they played a vital but little-remembered role reinforcing the Raiders and Paramarines, losing several of their own men killed and wounded. Nine days later, the battalion marched off into the boondocks to reinforce a patrol from 1/7 and wound up under the command of Lt. Colonel Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller for an attack across the Matanikau River. This devolved into a disaster as G/2/5 lost 25 men in an attempt to force their way across a sandbar at the river’s mouth. Ingvard must have wished he could swap places with Einar over at Division headquarters.

Excerpt from the muster roll of G/2/5, October 1942.

The next attempt to cross the Matanikau came on 7 October 1942. Private Aasvik spent that night listening to a banzai attack aimed at 3/5. In the morning, Companies  Easy and George – were detached from the 2nd Battalion and ordered to cross the Matanikau under cover of a driving rainstorm. They hoped to surprise the Japanese and roll up their flank, but were spotted when only partway across. Ingvard was shot in the chest; buddies dragged him to the bank near a fork in the river, but the young private quickly died of his wounds.

The following day, Ingvard Aasvik was buried on a spit of land just south of the river fork. Post-war search teams scouted the area, but reported finding no signs of any burials. The Mantanikau flooded frequently, they were told, and any markers would have long since washed away.

Map overlay showing the location of Aasvik’s burial. Post-war searches failed to find any trace of the grave; the area was prone to flooding, and any surviving markers were washed away.
Source: Aasvik Individual Deceased Personnel File.

Private Aasvik was declared non-recoverable in 1949, and his case was closed.

Einar Aasvik survived the battle of Guadalcanal, but began to run into disciplinary trouble – multiple incidents involved alcohol, and it can only be wondered if grief over his brother’s death was the root cause. Eventually transferred out of the First Marine Division, he was stationed at a depot in Scotia, New York until, busted back down to private, he joined a replacement draft and ended the war in a quartermaster’s storeroom on Guam. Einar was discharged as a PFC in 1946, settled in Albany, and passed away in 1988.



One Reply to “Ingvard T. Aasvik”

  1. You are continuing a wonderful and most honorable project, sir. We are honored to know these brave boys through your devotion and effort.

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