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Captain John B. Gillespie III

John B Gillespie
John B Gillespie - Courtesy of the Scioto Country Club

United States Marine Corp.
World War II

John B. Gillespie called Upper Arlington home when he enlisted in the United States Marine Corp in 1938. After completing basic training, Gillespie was assigned to the First Marine Division and deployed to the Pacific Theater during World War II. On August 18 of 1942, Gillespie’s battalion and other allied forces landed on the island of Guadalcanal, northeast of the village of Tetere.

For several months, American Marines moved across the northern part of the island, securing the only airfield. On October 14, in a push towards Cape Esperance, Gillespie led his unit against Japanese forces. Gillespie sacrificed his life for the Allied victory–what is now known as the Battle of Guadalcanal–which was a critical turning point in the Pacific and a major setback for the Japanese, leading to a domino of successive defeats resulting in Japan’s surrender.

Gillespie was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon and Navy Presidential Unit Citation for his sacrifice at the Battle of Guadalcanal.

LCPL Douglas Wanner Barnitz

Douglas W. Barnitz
Douglas W. Barnitz

United States Marine Corp.
World War II

Approximately 58,000 service members sacrificed their lives during the Vietnam War, including Upper Arlington graduate Douglas Barnitz. The following is the final mission for LCPL Barnitz.

At 9:30 AM on June 2, 1969, a six-man USMC reconnaissance team from Third Platoon, D Company, Third Reconnaissance Battalion, Third Marine Division, call sign Flight Time, was inserted approximately two miles south of Khe Sanh Airfield in Quang Tri Province, RVN. Their mission was to locate and report on enemy activity in the area. After ten minutes on the ground, the team discovered evidence of recent enemy presence.

The team set up an overnight position near this spot. The next day, at 5:50 pm, the team observed five enemy soldiers in brown uniforms and helmets. They reported the sighting and took no action. At 2:50 am the following morning, the team’s position started receiving small arms fire and grenades from an unknown size enemy force. They reported one member was killed and the rest wounded, and requested emergency extraction and all on-call artillery support.

At 3:05 am, an aerial observer (AO) came on station and observed that the enemy force was ten yards from all sides of the team. The team next requested a reaction force be sent to their assistance. The AO fired its ordinance at the enemy and reported secondary explosions on the ground. At 3:20 am, contact was lost with the team. A reaction force of 12 Marines was airborne by helicopter at 4:00 am. At 6:20 am, the reaction force observed seeing three, possibly five, members of the team and reported that the area looked like it had been hit with a flame thrower. By 7:00 am they found all six members, but none survived. Five members of the team were in a trench and the sixth was approximately ten yards down the hill.

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