William John Steen
|HOME OF RECORD
124 Sherman Avenue, New York, NY
|NEXT OF KIN*
Mother, Mrs. Alma V. Steen
|DATE OF BIRTH
July 11, 1918
|DATE OF ENLISTMENT
March 30, 1936
|DATE OF LOSS
August 8, 1942
|CAMPAIGN / AREA
|CIRCUMSTANCES OF LOSS
Sergeant Steen was tasked with establishing a listening post outside his company line. As he returned to his foxhole in the darkness, he was mistakenly shot by a sentry from his own company.
Steen died of his wounds, and was buried in the field on Guadalcanal.
|LAST KNOWN RANK
|STATUS OF REMAINS
“Interred in Grave No. M598422, Guadalcanal.”
Long Island National Cemetery, Suffolk County, NY
Manila American Cemetery
* Note: Veteran and memoirist Ore J. Marion mentions that Steen was married, however his wife’s name is unknown. The marriage may have been recent, as Sergeant Steen’s mother was his primary next of kin.
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He led the his men out and they vanished almost immediately into the dense, tall kunai grass that grew everywhere around us. After establishing the forward outpost, Steen headed back toward the perimeter alone. By now darkness was total, and what little visibility the night sky might have given us was nullified by the kunai grass.
Several men in Steen’s platoon heard the sound of somebody thrashing through the grass, coming in their direction. Nobody had a clue as to where the Japanese were, or whether they’d located our position. A voice came to the platoon through the darkness, low but clear.
“OK, men. It’s me.”
A shot rang out as Sergeant Steen spoke. One of his men, frightened and trigger-happy, had squeezed off a round from his rifle. It hit Steen in the chest. Within seconds, the men got him back behind the line, but it was no good. He was bleeding profusely, and within three minutes, he was dead.
Later that night, the man who had shot Steen cracked up. Corpsmen took the man away, and nobody in our unit ever heard from him or about him again….
After the accident that took Steen’s life, during our bivouac in the high grass on our first night on the Canal, nobody ever talked about it. The way he was killed was the kind of thing you never want to happen, and when it did happen, we just did not want to talk about it.
– Ore J. Marion, On The Canal.
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