The Lost Boys of Bougainville

A little background on this project: last fall I made several visits to the National Archives in Washington DC on behalf of the 3rd Battalion 3rd Marines Memorial Fund.  My mission was two-fold: acquire a list of the battalion’s casualties during World War 2 for the planned memorial, and see what kind of reference material was available on 3/3 from World War 2.  Our Corpsman emeritus “Doc” Hoppy also thought we might be able to find a few living veterans as well.

Through the tireless efforts of Otto Lehrack, we have a pretty good record of 3/3 in both Vietnam and the Gulf War; I’ve been tackling the War on Terror, but World War 2 has been a big chasm in 3/3 history.  Otto has some material, such as a letter from Lima veteran Dan Terlizzi, and I was able to get a video interview with the late Kilo CO and Navy Cross winner Paul Torian, but that’s about it.

While going through the muster rolls for the battalion, I had one of those insights that literally knocked the wind out of me: most of these men were dead, no one had told their story, and it was too late.  Not every unit got the “Band of Brothers” treatment, and, sadly, it seems to depend on how good the unit itself was of keeping track of its own.

Marines from Kilo-3, 3rd Battalion 3rd Marine Regiment on Bougainville in 1943. From Right to Left: John Myles, Thomas DeFeudis, unknown, Paul Taylor, unknown”. Source: Joseph R. Goddard, USMC (Ret)

I had a similar epiphany while going through pictures from the Pacific War.  The picture above was simply labelled “3rd Marines on Bougainville”, or “The Numa Numa trail”, but had no other identifying information.  I had it posted on the 3/3 Wikipedia page, which is where 3/3 WW 2 veteran Joseph Goddard found it, added the Marines’ names, and (thankfully) left his own.  After contacting him, I received the following response:


I was with K-3-3 on Bougainville, first wave ashore with the second platoon, K – Company, 3d Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, FMF.

In the photo with those Marines in the mud, the first Marine on right is John Myles, second from right is my buddy, Thomas DeFuedis from Worcester, MA, whom I enlisted with and went through Parris Island and then off to join the 3rd Regiment on American Samoa, March 1, 1943

The fourth Marine from right, is Paul Taylor, who was KIA next to me when a Jap sniper got him.  He is buried in his home town, Ashburnham, MA.

Thomas DeFuedis was shell shocked in one of our engagements and sent to a Navy Hospital in San Luis Obisbo, CA   Saw him once in Worcester about 1950, but in years later, passed away.  That photo of us Marines in the mud is well advertised in many publications.

That group of Marines were members of the 3rd platoon K-3-3.  I was with the 2nd Platoon.

I have collected all available data on our campaign on Bougainville Island.  If you need any other info, feel free to email me.

Joseph R. Goddard

Through what I can only describe as sheer luck, we now know who several of those Marines are, but how many other boys from Bougainville have been lost to history?

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