Harvel L. Moore

ACCOUNTED FOR

moore_hl

NAME
Harvel Lee Moore
NICKNAME
SERVICE NUMBER
O-26432
UNIT
Company E
Second Battalion
8th Marines
HOME OF RECORD
Chatham, LA
NEXT OF KIN
Mother, Mrs. H. L. Moore
DATE OF BIRTH
September 3, 1918
ENTERED SERVICE
July 17, 1940 (enlisted)
July 20, 1943 (commissioned)
DATE OF LOSS
November 22, 1943
REGION
Gilbert Islands
CAMPAIGN / AREA
Tarawa / Betio
CASUALTY TYPE
Killed In Action
CIRCUMSTANCES OF LOSS
Second Lieutenant Harvel L. Moore served as a platoon leader in Company E, 8th Marines during the battle of Tarawa. He was killed in action on 22 November 1943, as the battle was winding down.

In 2017, Moore’s remains were found on Betio by non-profit organization History Flight. He was officially accounted for on 20 February 2018.

INDIVIDUAL DECORATIONS
Silver Star, Purple Heart
LAST KNOWN RANK
Second Lieutenant
STATUS OF REMAINS
Accounted For

DPAA Announcement
MEMORIALS
Chatham Cemetery, Jackson Parish, LA
Honolulu Memorial

Note: The following biography has been adapted from an earlier post: Silver Stars.

Born to Lillian and Horace “Todd” Moore on 3 September 1918, Harvel Lee Moore grew up on the outskirts of Chatham in Jackson Parish, Louisiana. Their house was filled with the tools of Todd’s trade. Although he never advanced past the third grade, Todd was a master craftsman when it came to whittling. His prize-winning handcrafted pieces ranged from necklaces to furniture, and could fetch up to $200, allowing him to supplement his earnings as a blacksmith and a carpenter.[2] Harvel grew lanky and tall, developed a love for basketball, and played on the team at Chatham High. Upon graduation in 1938, he thought about a career as a coach, but college proved a challenge. A semester at Louisiana State University was marked by frequent absences, and another at Louisiana Polytechnic Institute failed to hold his interest.[3] He returned to Chatham in 1940, long enough for the census to record him as a “farmer,” but still he was not settled. Distant war clouds were gathering; he felt his country would call. On 17 July 1940, he traveled to New Orleans and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps as a private. Days later, he sat for his enlistment photograph in San Diego, face set in a purposeful scowl.

In September 1940, Private Harvel Moore, United States Marine Corps, pinned on the Maltese cross of a rifle sharpshooter, packed his sea bags, and reported to Headquarters and Service Company, 8th Marine Regiment, to serve with the anti-tank platoon. Camp Elliott was a far cry from Chatham – a tent camp in a mud field where the only buildings were the mess hall and the “slop chute” slinging nickel beers. “Every tent had a single light bulb hanging down in the middle,” said Private Roy H. Elrod. “We had a kerosene heater for warmth. The deck of the tent and the walls were all duck boards. When you were off those areas, the area was muddy.”[4] They hiked the California hills, hauling their 37mm anti-tank guns on little wheeled carriages, and hitched into San Diego for liberty. In November, Moore took the test for private first class. “It required a written exam,” explained Elrod, and “we also had to field strip and assemble every weapon that the platoon had, blindfolded, in a certain length of time. Then we had a hundred verbal questions to answer.”[5] Moore passed, and pinned on his first stripe on 26 November 1940. It would not be his last.

The 180-mile march made national news, including the Wisconsin State Journal on 10 July 1941.

Harvel Moore spent the last year of peace preparing for war. His platoon finally reached full strength; they took countless conditioning hikes through southern California and fought mock battles against other battalions on the orders of their impressively energetic platoon leader, Marine Gunner Henry “Jim” Crowe. A crowning achievement was the “Cuyamaca Hike,” a 180-mile march into the California mountains and deserts that lasted twelve days and earned the regiment a great deal of publicity. Over the course of these grueling exercises, officers kept a careful eye on their newer men – not only for troublemakers, but for natural leaders. Harvel Moore was noticed; although apparently soft-spoken, he was tall, strong, and intelligent. Two semesters of college carried a lot of water in a unit where, PFC Elrod said, “there were still a lot of Marines who were functionally illiterate.”[6] Moore made corporal on 13 October 1941.

The outbreak of the war accelerated the pace life for thousands of men in unifor. Moore’s regiment was immediately dispatched to guard the California coast against a potential Japanese invasion that never materialized. When the immediate panic passed, they were recalled to Camp Elliott and told to prepare for overseas duty; on 5 January 1942, Corporal Harvel Moore boarded the USNT Matsonia and sailed west for an unknown destination – which turned out to be Tutuila, also known as American Samoa. The 8th Marines landed on 20 January 1942, and quickly occupied beach defenses. Harvel Moore was promoted to the rank of sergeant, and likely oversaw the emplacement of a pair of 37mm guns to repel an invasion from the sea – a prospect that seemed increasingly likely as the Japanese conquered territory after territory in the Pacific. “During the next three months, the Marines were involved in the back-breaking job of expanding and improving the island’s defenses,” writes historian James S. Santelli. “Humid and oppressive heat, constant rain, and the ever-present mosquito made the work all the more arduous and demanding.”[8] When they weren’t building fortifications or training with their weapons, the Marines had little to do. Aside from a single shelling from a Japanese submarine, and their first service-related fatality – an unfortunate Marine struck down by a careening bus – life on Samoa settled into a repetitive routine.[9]

In August of 1942, attention in the Pacific was fixed firmly on the Solomon Islands and the fight swirling around Tulagi and Guadalcanal. The men on Samoa, now fearing their islands were a backwater, began to wonder when they would get into the fight. For Harvel Moore and the 8th Marines, the wait would be torturous at times – but it would eventually end.

A transport convoy appeared of the coast of Guadalcanal on 4 November 1942, dropped anchor, and were soon surrounded by a swarm of LCVPs that pulled alongside by turns to take on a load of disembarking Marines. As heavily-laden men climbed down the side of the USS Barnett, cargo cranes swung over her holds and hoisted out the 37mm guns of Second Lieutenant Roy H. Elrod’s anti-tank platoon. Elrod’s men were attached to the Second Battalion, 8th Marines for the operation; among the men waiting to board the LCVPs was Sergeant Harvel Moore.

“Men just coming ashore are seen taking advantage of a short rest before moving on to their assigned positions on Guadalcanal.” Note that this USMC-marked jeep is towing a 37mm gun – this may be the arrival of Harvel Moore’s platoon. Official USMC photo.

The 8th Marines shed their status as the “old” Marines who knew the score on Samoa. On Guadalcanal, they were very much the “new” men, and the object of curiosity and catcalling from rail-thin, Atabrined veterans as they made their way ashore. On the day they landed, the latest Matanikau offensive was just concluding, and the combat regiments ashore were nearing the limits of their endurance. The learning curve was still steep, and like the 7th Marines before them, Elrod’s platoon spent their first night on the ‘Canal frantically digging foxholes under fire. Only their equipment could be considered “veteran” – many still wore the flat-brimmed helmets and old-style packs issued before they left the States, which gave them the appearance of Great War doughboys. Any derisive comments, though, were outweighed by the greeting the gunners received. “The Marine infantrymen really welcomed our arrival,” recalled Elrod, “and we moved right into position with them. Gunners dug shallow firing positions right on the line, enabling them to use lethal canister rounds against Japanese frontal attacks. Of course, this made them targets – “the Japanese saw that our guns were something that caused a lot of trouble for them, and would come after them” – so Elrod detailed a protective squad armed with appropriated automatic rifles to provide extra security. Even so, the gunners had to operate their weapon from an exposed position, and it took more than a little courage to stand firm in the face of an onslaught.[16]

A well-built position houses a 37mm gun overlooking the Matanikau River. Official USMC photo.

Moore and his platoon were shifted from point to point in response to perceived threats from beyond the perimeter, never staying in one place for more than a few days. The Japanese took occasional potshots or snuck up close to throw grenades, and gunners stood watch and went on patrols like regular infantrymen but Elrod recalled that action was “sporadic.” Perhaps in response to the relative quiet, Moore developed a habit of going about without his helmet. Elrod disapproved and “had to stay on [Moore’s] butt” about the helmet issue – but also took notice of the sergeant’s leadership abilities. He knew that enlisted men could make good officers – Elrod was a “mustang” himself, and had served alongside Moore as an NCO in Samoa before earning a field commission.

The platoon fought few pitched battles on Guadalcanal; their 37mm weapons, while fantastic on the defense, were difficult to maneuver at the speed of an advance. However, the conditions under which they lived were “worse than the Japanese,” in Elrod’s words. “We were living really like animals. If it rained, we got wet. If the sun came out, we got dry…. Living on the front line, we had no tents.There was nothing in front of us but the Japanese.” Disease ran rampant; Elrod contracted malaria, dysentery and diarrhea all at once, and claimed that “everybody had malaria…. We were ridden with jungle rot and skin infections.”[17] Harvel Moore also came down with a chronic disease, probably malaria, but as a sergeant he also had to make sure his men were taking the hated Atabrine tablets which yellowed their skin and the whites of their eyes. On the few occasions when they did participate in attacks, they fought mostly as riflemen. In an offensive in January 1943, Captain Crowe rallied a faltering assault company with a now legendary line: “Goddammit, you’ll never get the Purple Heart hiding in a foxhole! Follow me!”[18] Sergeant Moore might not have witnessed this moment, but he certainly heard about it when the entire regiment was pulled off the line and into reserve a few days later.

On 31 January 1943, Sergeant Harvel Moore stood on the beach at Guadalcanal. He was dressed in a pilfered Army field uniform; his head, if he imbibed, might have been swimming with the effects of homemade moonshine.[19] An LCVP carried him out to the USS Crescent City, he went hand over hand up the net, and a few hours later Guadalcanal was receding over the horizon. Moore was bound for New Zealand.

After eight days at sea, the first echelons of the 8th Marines – Harvel Moore included – arrived at the Wellington docks. They were immediately thrown a party by the appreciative ladies of Wellington, and the following day paraded through the city streets, their jeeps decorated with the skulls and femurs of dead Japanese soldiers like a gruesome Jolly Roger.[20] At Camp Paekakariki, twenty miles outside of town, they settled into the business of recuperating, retraining, and recreating. “We did virtually nothing except try to get well during those first two to three months,” said Elrod. “Everyone was eating like wolves. We were literally recovering from starvation.” Malaria flare-ups were common, and a number of the men were hospitalized repeatedly. Sergeant Moore suffered several relapses of the disease he caught on the ‘Canal; on 5 April, the day of his promotion to platoon sergeant, he went into the hospital for twelve straight days.

This relapse came at a stressful time for Moore, as he was being considered for a commission. The recommendation came from Lieutenant Elrod: helmet discipline notwithstanding, he believed that Moore was well qualified for the responsibilities of platoon leadership. On 1 April 1943, the 8th Marines convened a Regimental Officers Training School to vett the new candidates. Despite his ongoing health concerns, Moore was found to be “physically, mentally, morally, and professionally qualified” for his new appointment. On 30 June 1943, he accepted his commission as a second lieutenant. The commission was backdated to 2 April (“In those days, when you were promoted, it was almost always backdated,” said Elrod) which also meant Moore received almost three months of back pay at his new pay grade.

Lieutenant Moore might have used part of this bonus pay to treat his girlfriend to a night on the town. At some point during one of his hospital stays, he met and fell for a pretty New Zealand nurse. Their relationship was evidently serious – a photograph of the two taken in the summer of 1943 is labeled “Lt. Moore and his future wife (we hope)” – but naturally, subject to the ever changing whims of wartime.

A shore party, consisting of the first wave of 8th Marines to make a landing, secures the beach at Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand, during the recent maneuvers held there.” Harvel Moore might be among the Marines gathered on the beach below.
Official USMC Photo / From the Julian C. Smith Collection (COLL/202), Marine Corps Archives & Special Collections

A few days after being commissioned, Moore was transferred from the Weapons Company and into a rifle unit – Easy Company, Second Battalion, 8th Marines – as an assistant platoon leader. While Colonel James Riseley praised Moore as “capable, reliable” and rated him “Very Good” on his fitness report, Moore’s other boss – Major Crowe, his former company commander and now commanding 2/8 – was a tougher audience. Under Crowe’s exacting observation, Moore scored a rating of “Good.” However, Crowe did note that Moore’s physical fitness, military bearing, cooperation and loyalty were exceptional, and noted that “with more experience and by becoming more forceful this officer will be a very good troop leader.” When another E Company lieutenant incurred Crowe’s wrath, Moore was elevated to the role of platoon leader on 13 September 1943.

Lieutenant Moore had about six weeks to practice solo command of his platoon; further struggles with his illness sent him back to the hospital for a few precious days of training time. At the end of October, the 8th Marines went back to the Wellington docks and boarded grey transports one by one. Official word had them making maneuvers in Hawkes Bay and returning to Paekakariki, but that was a deception easily seen through. The Wellington girls turned out to see them off, saying goodbye to boyfriends, fiancees, husbands, or fathers-to-be. Harvel’s nurse might have been among them; she might have given him the little hei-tiki pendant he wore around his neck. All too soon, the coast faded from view. It was the last friendly shore many would ever see.

The well deck of the LVT smelled of diesel fuel and cordite, sweat and saltwater, tobacco smoke and stomach bile. Over the roaring engines they could hear the hum of flying shells as gunners on the Ringgold and the Daishell picked out targets on shore. Every now and then, the dull thud of an airburst sent a reminder that the Navy couldn’t hit everything. When the friendly firing ceased, they knew they were getting close. Their tracked vehicle rammed into the reef, then tilted groaningly upward, churned over the coral, and dropped into calmer water, protected by the long, sturdy Burns-Philp pier. They could begin to see the tops of palm trees standing like splintered fence posts, shattered by the bombardment. Weapons were loaded, looks exchanged, prayers spoken aloud or privately thought. “At that instant, there was little fear,”said PFC Albert B. Gilman, “Then, suddenly, all hell broke loose.” Machine guns, rifles, and anti-boat guns all opened up at once, “like a sheet rain” as one survivor said.[21] Gunners on the amphibian tractors opened fire, spraying the beach with fire of their own. Then there was a sudden blast and shock as an LVT took a direct hit. “It blew out of the water and killed everybody on it,” said Hospital Apprentice 1st Class Stanley W. Bowen. “Arms and legs were flying through the air.”[22] The Second Battalion, 8th Marines had arrived at Betio.

Second Lieutenant Harvel Moore was in one of the first three waves to land on Beach Red 3. Shortly after 0900 – after almost five hours wedged into a cramped amphibious landing vehicle with nineteen other Marines from his platoon – he led his command section over the side of the LVT.[23] Some of the E/2/8 vehicles found a gap in the sea wall and lurched inland as far as the airfield, while other Marines attempted to move forward on their own. PFC Gilman’s vehicle hung up and “somebody yelled ‘Everyone get out!’ so we piled out and headed inland. There was fine sand everywhere, and we could see the ocean on the other side of the island. Ten of us went quite a ways inland but in a short time realized we were all alone. The rest had gone back to the seawall.”[24]

Chaos reigns on Red 3. Official USMC photo.

Although the landing was comparatively easy, with only about two dozen casualties incurred on the ride to the beach, 2/8 was squarely in the middle of a strong Japanese defensive complex. One of the first to fall was Moore’s fellow platoon leader, Warrant Officer Leonard Booker.[25] Booker was climbing out of his stalled LVT when a Japanese soldier shot him between the eyes; a sergeant took charge of the frightened Marines and led them up and over the sea wall. About ninety men from E/2/8 managed to reach the edge of the airfield, but the rest of the battalion was pinned to the beach. They found themselves in the middle of a strong Japanese position, under fire from bunkers, pillboxes, and earthworks that blended in with the sandy terrain. Casualties began to mount. Staff Sergeant Norman Hatch, who came ashore on Red 3 with Major Crowe’s command group, “heard someone crying and peered up from his shell hole to see his first wounded Marine close up, a Marine whose buttock appeared to be nearly torn off. The young man was writhing on the sand several feet away, his flesh exposed, bleeding badly, in total agony.” As other Marines yelled for a corpsman, Hatch found himself thinking, that could be me.[26] Veteran correspondent Robert Sherrod, coming ashore somewhat later, joined Crowe’s CP beside a wrecked LVT whose driver, Private William F. Cowart, lay dead on the sand. He witnessed a rifleman’s close call at the hands of a sniper, and then

saw the most gruesome sight I had seen in this war. A young Marine walked briskly along the beach. He grinned at a pal who was sitting next to me. Again there was a shot. The Marine spun all the way around and then fell to the ground, dead. From where he lay, a few feet away, he looked up at us. Because he had been shot squarely through the temple his eyes bulged out wide, as in horrific surprise at what had happened to him, though it was impossible that he could ever have known what hit him. 

“Somebody go get the son-of-a-bitch,” yelled Major Crowe. “He’s right in back of us here, just waiting for somebody to pass by.” That Jap sniper, we knew from the crack of his rifle, was very close.[27]

Later in the day, they beheld a fresh horror as their sister battalion, 3/8th Marines, attempted to land on Red 3. Their flat-bottomed boats grounded on the reef, and the men jumped out into water that was often over their heads. Japanese gunners had a field day. Marines stepped out of boats and directly into the path of large-caliber shells. Others were dragged under by the weight of their equipment, or died of gunshot wounds, staining the once-clear seawater a deep crimson. There was nothing Moore’s company could do, except try to take out as many positions as possible. Throughout the day, Sherrod noted, “the drama of life and death was being enacted all around me. Men were being killed and wounded every minute…. The number of dead lined up beside the stalled headquarters amphtrack grew steadily.”[28]

Sherrod also noticed one young lieutenant whose blasé attitude to enemy fire stood out:

He walked around completely nonchalant, giving orders to the men with him, while the Jap snipers fired at him steadily. He did not even wear a helmet. I knew that no officer could afford to let his men know he was afraid, but I thought this was carrying it a little too far, this walking around, getting shot at bare-headed.

This officer was 1Lt. Aubrey K. Edmonds (executive officer of E/2/8) and not Harvel Moore – but given Moore’s penchant for ditching the helmet, he may have been setting a similar example for his platoon elsewhere on the beachhead.[29]

By evening, Companies E and F had made some progress towards the airfield, and weathered a handful of counterattacks – supported, in part, by the antitank guns of Moore’s old commander, Roy Elrod. However, they were not able to create a cohesive line, and as darkness fell were ordered to fall back to more favorable positions in case of a nighttime counterattack. Several men were wounded in the withdrawal, including Lieutenant Edmonds, who became the second officer casualty in E/2/8. The firing slacked off as night fell, and the Marines spent a blessedly quiet night.

Not everyone made it back to safety. One wounded Marine was trapped about fifty yards into No Man’s Land. He probably kept quiet through the night, fearing to be found by the Japanese. As the battle began anew on 21 November, however, he started calling for help.

Lieutenant Moore found that his platoon, like the rest of his battalion, was caught in a maze of mutually supporting Japanese positions, the most formidable of which was a large blockhouse over on the left flank. They received some supplies and reinforcements, and managed to evacuate some of their wounded, but were unable to do much more than build up their strength. Compared to the previous day, casualties were light.

The wounded Marine had been without medical attention for nearly twenty-four hours when he caught Harvel Moore’s attention. The lieutenant sized up the situation, then got up from his position and started towards the helpless man. Despite heavy fire, he managed to reach the other Marine, and miraculously managed to carry him to safety. This act of bravery inspired the rest of his platoon, and impressed his company commander, 1Lt. Robert H. Rogers. Rogers made a mental note to recommend Moore for a decoration when the battle was over.

Led by Lt. Alexander Bonnyman (possibly indicated by the arrow), 2/8 and elements of the 18th Marines swarm the bunker on the flank of Red 3. Official USMC photo.

When histories of Tarawa describe the fighting on 22 November 1943, they rightly turn the spotlight on an assault against the massive bunker on the left of the Marine line. The heroic effort by F/2/8, and the Marine engineers under 1Lt. Alexander Bonnyman Jr., is the stuff of Marine Corps legend: a desperate, determined assault made with equal parts firepower, ingenuity, and guts that broke the defensive ring that stymied the forces on Red 3 for two full days. There were countless acts of valor – most notably Bonnyman’s, for which he earned a posthumous Medal of Honor – and the dramatic scene was captured on film by Norm Hatch and company. The home population saw the attack as a climactic point of the documentary film With The Marines at Tarawa. With their defenses compromised, the surviving Japanese fled and the Marines surged forward. The advance was only halted when the attackers advanced so far forward that they risked being hit by fire from friendly forces advancing on their flank. “E, G, and K Companies had a field day,” writes historian Eric Hammel. “Everything fell before them. Trenches, buildings, and pillboxes were blown wherever encountered. Although a number of Marines were wounded, no one was killed.”[30] The battle for Betio was finally nearing an end.

Easy Company would experience one final tragedy.

“Harvel Moore was shot and killed on the third day at Tarawa,” recalled Roy Elrod. “He was shot through the head in a foxhole while cleaning his weapon. He was not wearing his helmet.”[31]

In the days that followed, while squads of Marines rooted out the few remaining Japanese holdouts, others turned to the task of collecting and burying the dead. Bodies left exposed to equatorial sun and gunfire proved difficult to identity and distasteful to move. Rather than consolidating the remains into a single plot, individual cemeteries sprung up around the island, containing anywhere from one to several dozen bodies. Shell craters, bulldozed trenches, and individual holes in the ground were marked with crosses, plaques, and sticks. Helmets, shattered rifles, belted ammunition and shell casings served as decorations. Many assault units departed before completing this melancholy task, leaving their buddies to be buried by strangers. The sheer number of casualties overwhelmed the record keepers. “Buried, grave unknown” was entered in the muster roll beside Harvel Moore’s name; he was not the only one from his battalion so listed.

Marines gathered for burial in a trench on Betio. USMC photo.

In 1946, the 604th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company arrived on Betio to consolidate the many scattered cemeteries and, hopefully, identify some of the many unknowns buried on the island. They were pleased to find the plots beautifully marked and tended to – but this emotion quickly soured as they discovered that the markers bore no relation to the men buried below. The Navy garrison had opted for “memorial” cemeteries, conveniently out of the way of their base facilities, and had moved markers around without exhuming the bodies. The 604th found only a fraction of the men they set out to exhume, and could not even identify all of those they did find. One of the graves that eluded their search was that of Second Lieutenant Harvel Moore.

“Cemetery 11” on Betio, 1944. A memorial marker for Lt. Moore appeared here, but his body was nowhere in the vicinity. Official USMC photo.

Back in Louisiana, Lillian Moore received the posthumous Silver Star, Purple Heart, and other medals that her son earned overseas, but the loss of her boy hit her terribly hard. “Heartbroken” over the news that Harvel’s body could not be found, she convinced herself that he was not dead after all, but either a prisoner somewhere, or possibly hospitalized with amnesia and would come home someday. “She always looked for him,” said Moore’s niece Sherry Sanders.[35] Whistling was forbidden, because Harvel used to whistle; children were encouraged to watch the newsreels in hopes of spotting him in a crowd or boarding a ship.[36]  Stories of his kindness and character passed on through his family. “Mom would always talk about Harvel about how she adored him, how she loved him and the kindness that he did for the family,” said another niece, Patricia Powell. “”I can just remember my mother going through the house saying how she missed him.”[37] The family requested a plot in Chatham Cemetery, to be ready for the day Harvel returned. In 2015, the last of his siblings passed away, and Harvel was still not home.

A memorial grave for Harvel Moore at Chatham Cemetery. Photo from FindAGrave.com

Then both families received bolts from the blue.

In 2017, the non-profit organization History Flight conducted a dig near the edge of old airfield on Betio, Tarawa atoll. Previous expeditions had located both individual burials and, in 2015, a mass grave: Cemetery 27, near Red Beach 3, where many of the dead from 2/8th Marines were buried. The current target, Cemetery 33, had been partially exhumed by the 604th Graves Registration Company, but evidence suggested that more Marines might be found at the site. Many partial remains were found – the result of battle trauma, years of erosion, and careless handling by the 604th – as were a few complete skeletons. Many were still wrapped in the ponchos in which they were buried. All of the remains – including those of a tall young man who still wore lieutenant’s bars and a hei-tiki pendant –  were handed over to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

Arriving in Atlanta, May 2018. Photo provided.

On 24 May 2018, Francis Ernest Drake, Jr. and Harvel Lee Moore arrived in Atlanta together. An honor guard met their caskets – and that of Sergeant Elden William Grimm, another Tarawa casualty – at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. They were on their way home. Matching DNA from their families, plus laboratory analysis of the remains and their effects, closed the book on their stories. Following services in Springfield and Chatham, the two men – who lost their lives, and almost their identities, to save their comrades – were buried with full military honors on Memorial Day.

It just fell out of the sky. Here he was gone for more than 70 years, and now we’re going to have him home.
That’s what Grandma would always have wanted, to have her son home… and buried next to her in the cemetery in Chatham.

– Billie Sue Meredith

 Harvel Lee Moore is buried next to his parents in Chatham Cemetery, Jackson Parish.


REFERENCES AND NOTES

[2] Margaret Gambell, “Carpenter Cuts Thousands Of Articles As Only Hobby,” Monroe Morning World (Monroe, LA) 3 October 1948, 3.

[3] Bonnie Bolden, “Body of WWII Vet Killed in Action Comes home for Family Burial,” The News Star (Monroe, LA) 21 May 2018. Online edition.

[4] Roy H. Elrod, We Were Going To Win, Or Die There: With The Marines at Guadalcanal, Tarawa and Saipan, edited by Fred H. Allison (Denton: University of North Texas Press, 2017), 55.

[5] Ibid., 61.

[6] Ibid.

[8] James S. Santelli, A Brief History of the 8th Marines (Washington, D.C.: History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, 1976), 12.

[9] Elrod, We Were Going To Win, 91.

[16] Ibid., 105-107.

[17] Ibid.,111-112.

[18] Santelli, 8th Marines, 17.

[19] Elrod, We Were Going To Win, 131. Elrod “acquired” (cumshaw) “two sets of uniforms – shirts, pants, underwear, socks – for each one of my men” from an Army supply dump. The moonshine was courtesy of another member of the platoon who cooked up an old family recipe to celebrate their departure from Guadalcanal.

[20] Ibid. 135-136.

[21] John Wukovits, “76 Hours of Hell,” American Legion Magazine, online edition, 20 October 2011. https://www.legion.org/magazine/1602/76-hours-hell

[22] John Wukovits, One Square Mile of Hell: The Battle for Tarawa (New York: NAL Caliber, 2007), 127.

[23] Officially, 2/8 landed at 0917. Aubrey K. Edmons, executive officer of E/2/8, insisted that his vehicle hit the beach at precisely 0900. “The confusion… stems from the fact that the ‘official’ time was recorded when our battalion commander [Crowe] radioed regiment after making it to the beach. In point of fact, his own landing craft had hung up on the reef, causing a delay of several minutes.” Bill Banning, ed., Heritage Years: Second Marine Division Commemorative Anthology, 1940-1949 (Paducah, Turner Publishing, 1988), 58.

[24] Wukovits. One Square Mile of Hell, 129.

[25] The official USMC Monograph states that “Five of the six officers in Company E were wounded or killed as they hit the beach” – a figure repeated in Colonel Joseph H. Alexander’s Across The Reef: The Marine Assault of Tarawa. Battalion muster rolls suggest otherwise, and show that three of six E/2/8 officers survived the battle unwounded. Company E, Second Battalion, 2nd Marines actually did suffer this casualty rate, and it is believed that confusion between these two units is the source of this error. James R. Stockman, Marines In World War II Historical Monograph: The Battle for Tarawa (Washington, D.C.: Historical Section, U. S. Marine Corps, 1947), 16; Joseph H. Alexander, Across the Reef: The Marine Assault of Tarawa (Washington, D.C.: Marine Corps Historical Center, 1993), 14; Second Battalion, 8th Marines (2/8) and Second Battalion, 2nd Marines (2/2) muster rolls, microfilm (RG 127, NARA).

[26] Charles Jones, War Shots: Norm Hatch and the U.S. Marine Corps Combat Cameramen of World War II (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2011), 93.

[27] Banning, Heritage Years, 66.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid., 57.

[30] Eric Hammel and John E. Lane, Bloody Tarawa: A Pictorial Record, expanded edition, ebook (Pacifica, CA: Pacifica Military History, 2011), 489.

[31] Elrod, We Were Going To Win, 192.

[35] Bolden.

[36] Olivia Russell, “WWII veteran to be buried in his hometown after 75 years,” KNOE 8 News (Monroe, LA) 10 May 2018. Online.

[37] Marie Waxel, “KSLA Salutes: After 75 Years, Marine makes trip home to be buried next to his mother in LA,” WSMV Nashville, 25 May 2018. Online.

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