“Left Behind”: Foundation member CAStone’s copyrighted photograph of a missing Marine’s helmet at a burial site under excavation on Tarawa
The Chief Rick Stone and Family Charitable Foundation has created this portion of our web site in humble thanks and appreciation for the families and friends of the following American servicemen and women who have generously donated to our Foundation.
Only with your support have our Foundation’s efforts to locate, recover and identify lost American heroes and to provide information to their families been possible.
In Alphabetical Order
SGT John Andrew Blankenburg
SGT Blankenburg was born in Panhandle, Texas and enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1941. He was a member of the 2nd Aviation Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division during the battles of Guadalcanal, Kwajalein, Eniwetok, Guam, and Iwo Jima. Re-enlisting in 1948, SGT Blankenburg was assigned to the 1st Engineer Battalion of the First Marine Division. He was shipped to Korea in August 1950 and participated in battles at the Pusan Perimeter, Inchon Landing, Seoul, Wonsan Landing, and Chosin Reservoir. On the cold night of 1 December 1950, SGT Blankenburg was attached to a small unit of about 15 Marines who were holding a perimeter at Hagaru-Ri when about 240 Chinese attacked. Sgt. Blankenburg was killed during the fight. His body was not recovered until 1954 when he was identified by the U.S. Army’s Central Identification Laboratory and sent home to rest with his parents and brother in Pampa, Texas.
GM3c Paul Sidney Blankenburg
Gunners Mate 3rd Class Blankenburg was born in Panhandle, Texas and enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1941. He served on the cruiser USS Brooklyn in the North Atlantic, Carribean, England, and during the invasion of North Africa. The USS Monterrey was a new light aircraft carrier when Blankenburg joined her in 1943. He served on board with future President Gerald Ford and participated in strikes against Makin Island, Kavieng, New Ireland and supported the landings at Kwajalein and Eniwetok. The Monterrey then conducted raids in the Carolines, Marianas, New Guinea, and the Bonin Islands. GM3c Blankenburg fought in the Battle of the Philippine Sea and strikes against Wake Island, the southern Philippines, and the Ryukyus. As the war drew to a close, the Monterrey supported the landings at Leyte and Mindoro in the Philippines. Ironically, after surviving World War II, Blankenburg was killed in an industrial fire in Pampa, Texas in 1954.
S1c Steve Campbell Burkhart, Jr.
S1c Burkhart was born in Nelta, Texas and enlisted in the U.S. Navy when he was only 19 years of age. He was a member of Squadron VB-115. The PB4Y-1 patrol aircraft, of which he was a crew member, was shot down by the Japanese on 22 April 1944 near Truk Atoll. In 1946, a group burial site was discovered on Puluwat Island and the remains of seven individuals were recovered and temporarily buried as “Unknowns” in the U.S. Military Cemetery on Moen Island. In 1948, the seven “Unknowns” were disinterred and examined by the Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii. Five of the seven were identified as crew members of the PB4Y, including S1c Burkhart. S1c Burkhart was given a final resting place in Section F, Grave 491 at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) in Honolulu, Hawaii.
PFC Lyle Ellis Charpilloz
PFC Charpilloz was born in Silverton, Oregon and enlisted in the Marine Corps when he was only 15 years of age. He was a member of F Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines during the invasion of Tarawa on 20 November 1943 when he was killed by gunshot wounds on Red Beach 3. PFC Charpilloz’ body was reportedly buried in a Division Cemetery after the battle but was not officially identified until 4 December 2017.
PFC Harry Cronkhite
PFC Cronkhite was born in State Line, Illinois and was wounded during the Guadalcanal campaign. He was a member of A Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines and left behind a fiancée when he left New Zealand to participate in the invasion of Tarawa. On 21 November 1943 when he was last seen on Red Beach 2 under heavy enemy fire. PFC Cronkhite was reported as Missing in Action after the battle. He remains in “Unresolved” status to this day.
PFC John Cecil DeLellis
PFC DeLellis was born in Waukesha, Wisconsin and was an Eagle Scout and a student at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He was a member of C Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines during the invasion of Tarawa. On 22 November 1943 PFC DeLellis was killed by gunshot wounds and buried in a Divisional Cemetery on Tarawa. He remains in “Unresolved” status to this day although Foundation investigations show that he was undoubtedly buried as an “Unknown” in the Punchbowl.
Seaman 1st Class Joseph Fedorchak
S1c Fedorchak was born in Olyphant, Pennsylvania. He joined the Navy in 1942 and volunteered for submarine duty. S1c Fedorchak received a “Motor Machinist Mate” rating and was briefly assigned to the USS Guardfish before transferring to the USS Triton in Brisbane, Australia. S1c Fedorchak was on his first war patrol aboard the USS Triton when it was sunk by a Japanese destroyer on 15 March 1943 while attacking an enemy convoy in the Bismark Sea. S1c Fedorchak and all the crew members of the USS Triton remain on “eternal patrol” and will never be recovered.
PFC Robert William Fox
PFC Fox was born in Worcester, Massachusetts and was president of his high school class. He earned a “Letter of Commendation” for his service during the Guadalcanal campaign. PFC Fox was a member of K Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines during the invasion of Tarawa. On 20 November 1943, PFC Fox was in a landing craft with his brother George when it was struck by enemy fire. Robert was killed by shrapnel wounds but George survived and was awarded the Silver Star for later heroism on the beach. Robert’s body has yet to be recovered and identified.
CPL Gathright was born in Navarro County, Texas and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1939 at age 18. He was a member of the famed 1st Cavalry Division at a time when they were riding horses while patrolling the Mexican border from Fort Bliss, Texas. His division was shipped to Australia in July 1943 and participated in General MacArthur’s “island hopping” campaign through the Admiralty Islands, including combat on Los Negros and Manus Island. CPL Gathright’s division landed on Leyte Island in October 1944 and participated in the campaign to liberate the Philippines. He may have been briefly captured by the Japanese. CPL Gathright survived the war and passed away in Corsicana, Texas in 1972.
SGT Edward Russell Godwin
SGT Godwin was from Smithdale, Mississippi and a member of E Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines during the invasion of Tarawa on 20 November 1943. He took over for a seriously wounded platoon leader and led his company in repelling repeated enemy attacks against their exposed position over the course of several days. For his actions, SGT Godwin was awarded the Navy Cross. SGT Godwin survived the war and passed away in California in 1980.
SGT Harold Hammett
SGT Hammett was born in Avery, Mississippi and a member of B Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines when he was last seen embarking from his amphibious tractor on Tarawa’s Red Beach 2 on 20 November 1943 under heavy enemy fire. SGT Hammett was not seen again and was reported Missing in Action on that day. SGT Hammett’s body was not identified after the battle and he officially remains in “Unresolved” status.
PFC Harold Patrick Hannon
PFC Hannon was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania and was known as “Tidley” to his family and friends. On the morning of 20 November 1943, he was a member of E Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines when the amphibious tractor in which he as riding penetrated farther inland from Tarawa’s Red Beach 3 than other Marines. His unit was temporarily cut off and PFC Hannon was killed by a gunshot wound. PFC Hannon was buried at an unrecorded location on Tarawa where his remains were finally found, identified, and returned home to his family in Pennsylvania in 2017.
SGT James Joseph Hubert
SGT Hubert was born in Duluth, Minnesota and a former member of the U.S. Navy before joining the Marine Corps in 1940. He saw action during the Guadalcanal Campaign and was a member of H Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines when he was killed by a gunshot wound on Tarawa’s Red Beach 3 on 21 November 1943. SGT Hubert’s body was identified and buried in a nearby cemetery that was lost after the battle and not found until 2015. SGT Hubert was finally identified in 2016 and returned home to his family.
Pharmacist Mate 1st Class Fred Eugene Kathan
PhM1c Kathan was born in Denver, Colorado and was attached as a Medical Corpsman to the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines when the amphibious tractor in which he was riding struck an anti-boat mine just off Tarawa’s Green Beach on the evening of 21 November 1943. PhM1c Kathan’s body was recovered after the battle and buried somewhere on Tarawa. Unfortunately PhM1c Kathan has never been officially identified and he remains in “Unresolved” status.
1st Sergeant Michael Paul Konz
1st SGT Konz was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He enlisted in the Marines in 1938 and saw service in Haiti, the Virgin Islands, Cuba, Panama, and American Samoa before being shipped to the South Pacific. 1st SGT Konz was a member of K Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines when he landed on Tarawa on 20 November 1943. He was wounded during the assault and died the next day. 1st Konz’ body was buried in an unrecorded location on Tarawa and he has yet to be identified. His case remains “Unresolved”.
CPL John Vincent McNichol
CPL McNichol was born in Renovo, Pennsylvania and a former Boy Scout before joining the Marine Corps in 1941. John had just completed the 8th grade when he signed up and was probably only 16 years old. He saw action during the Guadalcanal Campaign and was a member of E Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines when he was killed by gunshot wounds on Tarawa’s Red Beach 3 on 21 November 1943. CPL McNichol’s body was identified and buried in a trench that was lost after the battle and not found until 2017. CPL McNichol has been identified and will be returned home to his family for burial in Arlington National Cemetery.
PFC Francis John Monick
PFC Monick was an Iroquois Indian born in Brasher Falls, New York. His parents died when he was 13 and he was a ward in an orphanage. PFC Monick was a member of B Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines when he landed on Tarawa on 20 November 1943. He was struck in the left thigh by a gunshot wound and died later that day. PFC Monick’s body was buried in a Divisional Cemetery and was undoubtedly an “Unknown” buried in Punchbowl; however, he has yet to be identified and remains “Unresolved”.
PVT Jewel Raymond Peace
PVT Peace was born in Louann, Arkansas and attended Texas A&M University. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1944 and completed basic training at Parris Island, South Carolina. PVT Peace was shipped to the Pacific and assigned to a reserve unit for the invasion of Iwo Jima. PVT Peace was accepted to the Marine Corps Officer Candidate School at Quantico, Virginia and was assigned there when the war ended. He died in Round Rock, Texas at age 91.
PFC Otto Reeder
PFC Reeder was born in Evansville, Indiana and a member of B Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines when he landed on Tarawa on 20 November 1943. Two days later, PFC Reeder was killed by a gunshot wound to the head and was buried in what would later become one of Tarawa’s “Lost Cemeteries”. His remains have never been found and identified and PFC Reeder remains officially in “Unresolved” status.
CPL Arthur Edward Ribeiro, Jr.
CPL Ribeiro was born in Buffalo, New York and a member of E Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines when he landed on Tarawa’s Red Beach 2. CPL Ribeiro was known as “Art” to his family and friends and had a twin brother. On 21 November 1943, CPL Ribeiro received multiple gunshot wounds and died on that day. CPL Ribeiro was identified after the battle buried at an unknown location on Tarawa. He officially remains in “Unresolved” status to this day.
PFC Myrl Melvin Sauers, Jr.
PFC Sauers was born in Santa Cruz, California. “Mel” wrote to his grandmother that he grew two inches taller and added 25 pounds to his frame after he joined the Marines. He was a member of L Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines when he attempted to land on Tarawa’s Red Beach 3 on 20 November 1943. PFC Sauers’ actions during the battle are unknown and he simply disappeared into history. PFC Sauers was listed as “Missing in Action” and he officially remains in “Unresolved” status to this day.
CPL Joseph Mike Simonetti
CPL Simonetti was born in Illinois and was a member of F Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines when he landed on Tarawa’s Red Beach 2 on 20 November 1943. CPL Simonetti was killed shortly after reaching the beach. After the battle he was identified and buried in a nearby cemetery on Tarawa. However, when his body was recovered in 1946, CPL Simonetti’s identity could not be confirmed and he was designated “X-36”. CPL Simonetti’s remains were identified by the Army Central Identification Laboratory in 1947 and he was buried in the Punchbowl Cemetery in Hawaii at the request of his family. CPL Simonetti is interred in Section 1, Grave 595 at the Punchbowl.
SGT Morris Wallace Skinner
SGT Skinner was born in Galveston, Texas and was known as “Red” to his family and friends due to his wavy, red hair and a face full of freckles. As a member of H Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, SGT Skinner was a machine gunner when he landed on Tarawa on 20 November 1943. He was reported Killed in Action by gunshots on that day. SGT Skinner’s body was found after the battle and buried in a Divisional Cemetery. Unfortunately, he has not been officially identified and remains in “Unresolved” status.
Captain Walter Perrin Tribble
CAPT Tribble was born in South Carolina and was a member of the ROTC program at what later became Clemson University. He was a crew member on a B-29 bomber that was shot down over Tokyo on 23 May 1945 and was held as a Japanese POW until the end of the war. On 22 November 1952, Captain Tribble was a passenger on a C-124A transport plane that crashed on Mount Gannett in Alaska. He remained missing until Chief Stone investigated his case in 2012 based on wreckage sighted on the glacier. Captain Tribble was finally identified and returned home to his family in 2017.
2nd Lieutenant Donald Eugene Underwood
2nd LT Underwood was born in Michigan and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on 22 February 1942. He was the bombardier on a B-24 bomber named “Miss Bee Haven” that crashed soon after takeoff from Tarawa on 21 January 1944. A report by the Foundation requested by the U.S. Congress determined that 2nd LT Underwood that of six other airmen were buried in a section of a cemetery on Tarawa that had not yet been discovered. In February 2017, 2nd LT Underwood was found in the location specified in the Foundation’s Congressional report. He was identified in September 2017 and returned home for burial by his family.
PFC Orson La Moyne Walton
PFC Walton was born in Auburn, Washington and a member of L Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines when he landed on Tarawa on 20 November 1943. His company was assigned to land on Red Beach 3 and PFC Walton was wounded by gunshots and later died on that day. PFC Walton’s body was identified after the battle and he was buried in a Divisional Cemetery however he has yet to be identified as a recovered set of remains. PFC Walton is officially in “Unresolved” status.
PFC John Cyrus Westfall, Jr.
PFC Westfall was born in Miami County, Ohio and a member of A Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines when he landed on Tarawa on 21 November 1943. His company was assigned to land on Red Beach 2 and PFC Westfall was reported Killed in Action on that day. PFC Westfall’s body was not identified after the battle and he officially remains in “Unresolved” status.