Monday, April 23, 2018

WW2 Guadalcanal Fallen - Medal hero John Strandwitz, 1st Marine Division

Lt. John Strandwitz was mortally wounded while fighting a fire caused by Japanese bombing of Henderson Field.
John T. Strandwitz never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.

He was born on April 23, 1918 in New Jersey. His parents William and Dorothy were born in Norway and England, respectively. His father owned a sheet metal manufacturing factory. John had one older sister and three older brothers. By 1940 John had completed two years of college.

He enlisted in the US Marines on January 6, 1942 and became a 2nd lieutenant in the HQ Service Battery, 1st Special Weapons Battalion, 1st Marine Division. 

The 1st Marine Division landed on Guadalcanal on August 7, 1942. They set up a perimeter defense to protect Henderson Field. During the latter half of August the Japanese sent daily bombing missions to try to knock out the airfield and eliminate the threat American planes posed to Japanese warships.

On one such attack on August 29, 1942 a Japanese bomb set off a fire in the First Marine ammunition dump. Lt. Strandwitz volunteered to lead a detail to extinguish the fire. He was hit by a fragment of an exploding shell and died of his wounds that day. He was posthumously awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, the highest non-combat Navy decoration for heroism.

His citation reads as follows:

For heroic conduct while attached to the First Special Weapons battalion, First Marine Division, on the occasion of a fire in the area of the First Marine ammunition dump as a direct result of a Japanese bombing raid on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, August 29, 1942.

Volunteering with a detail of nine men, Second Lieutenant Strandwitz proceeded to the burning dump and courageously led his group in beating out the spreading flames, breaking down stacked boxes of ammunition and carrying them to safety. While encouraging his men in the performance of this extremely hazardous task, Second Lieutenant Strandwitz was struck by an exploded shell fragment. 

His personal valor and inspiring leadership in the face of grave peril were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

His grave is at Locustwood Memorial Park, Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

Thank you John for your sacrifice. Let's Earn It for John.

Last year on this date I profiled P-47 pilot Harold Nussman. You can read about Harold here.

On behalf of the fallen, if you would like to see more people become aware of this project to honor the WW2 fallen, be sure to share with others on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Thanks for your interest!

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WW2 Fallen 100 is supported by

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“Where Every Day is Memorial Day”

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