John Irvin Kerns
|HOME OF RECORD
|NEXT OF KIN
Father, Mr. Frank W. Kerns
|DATE OF BIRTH
August 9, 1919
|DATE OF ENLISTMENT
December 16, 1941
|DATE OF LOSS
October 16, 1942
|CAMPAIGN / AREA
|CIRCUMSTANCES OF LOSS
Private Kerns, a member of the 2nd (Carlson’s) Raiders, participated in an amphibious raid on Makin Island in August, 1942. He was one of nine Raiders left behind when the battalion withdrew, and was captured by the Japanese.
The nine prisoners were held at the 6th Base Force Headquarters on Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands until 16 October 1942. Then, on the orders of Vice Admiral Kōsō Abe, they were beheaded and buried in a mass grave on the island.
Kerns was declared dead on 19 August 1943.
Navy Cross, Purple Heart
|LAST KNOWN RANK
|STATUS OF REMAINS
Believed buried in mass grave, Kwajalein.
National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
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The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Private John I. Kerns (MCSN: 348233), United States Marine Corps Reserve, for extraordinary heroism and conspicuous devotion to duty while serving as a member of a volunteer boat crew in Company B, SECOND Marine Raider Battalion, during the Marine Raider Expedition against the Japanese-held island of Makin in the Gilbert Islands on 17 and 18 August 1942. Fully aware of the hazards of an imminent enemy air attack, and with complete disregard for his own life, Private Kerns, with four others, volunteered to take a boat to a point just outside a reef and shoot a line ashore to assist in evacuating those men remaining on the beach. Caught on the sea, he was defeated in his valiant efforts by the violent strafing of his boat by withering enemy machine-gun fire. His great personal valor and loyal spirit of self-sacrifice were in keeping with the finest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave up his life in the service of his country.
(The actual fate of Kerns and his companions was not known until after the war, thus his Navy Cross citation assumes he was killed in action at Makin.)
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