Luther Leru Rhodes
“Dusty Rhodes,” “The Kid”
|HOME OF RECORD
89 Fruitland Road, Hendersonville, NC
|NEXT OF KIN
Father, Mr. Harley Rhodes
|DATE OF BIRTH
March 22, 1924
|DATE OF ENLISTMENT
November 11, 1941
|DATE OF LOSS
October 7, 1942
|CAMPAIGN / AREA
Guadalcanal / Third Matanikau
Killed In Action
|CIRCUMSTANCES OF LOSS
On 7 October 1942, the Marines renewed their offensive against Japanese forces positioned along the Matanikau River. The Third Battalion, 5th Marines encountered a strong point of about 150 Imperial soldiers defending a bridgehead on the eastern side of the river. This bridgehead was contained during the late afternoon, and that night the Japanese attempted to break out by attacking through 3/5’s positions.
PFC Luther L. Rhodes of L/3/5 was killed by a gunshot wound in the head. No two sources agree on the disposition of his remains, and he has not been identified.
|LAST KNOWN RANK
Private First Class
|STATUS OF REMAINS
Variously reported not recovered, buried in the field, or buried as unknown in First Marine Division Cemetery
Edneyville United Methodist Church Cemetery, Edneyville, NC
Manila American Cemetery
Temporarily removed for editing and updating. Contact the webmaster for information on this Marine.
[PFC Larry “Hardrock”] Gerkin and I stood in the middle of a battlefield, the battle now ended, but the blood, death, moans, dismembered bodies, and general ugliness were all around us…. I saw Dusty Rhodes’ corporal and squad leader coming toward us. He spoke to Gerk.
“Larry, I’ve been looking for you.”
“Oh?” Gerk said. “How’s the kid?”
“That’s why I came over here, Gerk,” the corporal said. “I wanted you to know the kid got hit last night.”
“How bad?” Gerkin asked. “Will he be okay?”
“Look, Larry,” the corporal said. “It was dark, all hell was busting loose, and I don’t know what the hell happened.” He stopped talking for a second, then said, “He’s dead, Larry – and I just wanted to tell you personally.”
Gerkin didn’t say anything. He lowered his head and kicked at the dirt a couple times. He didn’t say anything at all, and I didn’t say anything either. There was nothing I could tell him. The only decent thing I could do was keep quiet and leave Gerk alone.
Finally Gerk looked up again and asked the corporal, “Where is he? Where’s the kid?”
“He’s over here a little way,” the corporal said.
Gerkin looked at me. “I’m gonna go take a look at him, Ore.”
“Okay, Larry,” I said. “Go ahead – No, wait. I’ll go with you.
So we followed the corporal over to where his squad was situated, and as we got there, we saw the kid’s body.
Gerkin choked up and let out a sob. There in front of us, in the midst of all the dead and wounded, two men from the 2nd Platoon were rolling Dusty onto a poncho. My thought then, and my vivid memory sixty years later, was how white Dusty’s light blond hair looked as they wrapped him in the poncho.
Gerkin pulled himself together and went directly to the two men who were getting ready to take the kid’s body away. He said to them, “Don’t drop that kid while you’re moving him in that poncho. Don’t bump him on the ground, or I’ll kick the shit out of both of you.”
“Okay, Gerk,” one of them said quietly. “Don’t worry. We’ll take good care of him.”
Larry wandered off somewhere, and it was about thirty minutes before he showed up again. I never heard him mention the kid again or say anything about him. Not ever. I understood his silence perfectly. It was the only way you could keep on going and keep yourself from cracking up altogether. Death was everywhere, but to keep going, we had to push the dead out of our thoughts. And from that day on, I never heard anyone mention Dusty Rhodes’ name in Larry Gerkin’s presence….
Ore J. Marion, On The Canal: The Marines of L/3/5 on Guadalcanal, 1942
Articles and Records: