PFC. John K. Mohrlang, H/2/8
serial number 359909
John Kenneth Mohrlang was born in Loveland, Colorado on July 11, 1924. He and his best friend Henry "Hank" Krenning enlisted in the Marine Corps together on Jan. 22, 1942. Both were 17 years old. After their initial training, they were separated and Uncle John was sent to H/2/8 (H Company was the heavy weapons company) as an M1917 water-cooled .30 cal. machinegunner. The 8th was then sent on to American Samoa for garrison duty. From Samoa, they were sent to Guadalcanal, landing there on November 3rd, 1942. In letters he sent home to his family John stated that he was fine but that he and his buddies had spent Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's in foxholes on the front lines.
The next three photos of Marines were taken on Guadalcanal by John with a captured Japanese camera and developed in New Zealand. They were then sent to John's brother who was serving with the U.S. Army in North Africa according to Keith Buffum, one of John's buddies, who survived the war and lives in Colorado.
Both of these photos show members of the MG platoon from H/2/8 showing off their trophies.
Notice the pre-42 khakis and WWI helmets.
1st Lt. Frank Morrow,
MG platoon leader for Co. H, was shot in the throat by a Japanese sniper on Tarawa.
He was evacuated off Betio and is listed as WIA.
After Guadalcanal, John went to New Zealand where 2nd Marine Division was reforming, refitting, and training for the Gilbert Islands campaign. The following three photos were taken in New Zealand in May 1943:
Standing: (L) to (R) Pvt. (later PFC) Vic Silver - MIA, presumed dead, Tarawa; Pvt. (later PFC) Patrick Gresk - told by surviving Co. H member Mike Mangan that he was KIA, Tarawa, but is listed as WIA on casualty list; Pvt. (later PFC) Keith Buffum - survived Guadalcanal,Tarawa, Saipan, Tinian, Okinawa and now lives in Canon City, CO.
Seated: (L) to (R) Pvt. (later PFC) John Mohrlang - DOW, Tarawa and Pvt. (later PFC) Bill Young - survived Guadalcanal and Tarawa but KIA Saipan.
Bill Young, Val Wagner (survived Tarawa but was sent statesside for Malaria and MuMu), and John Mohrlang.
Company H was part of Maj. Henry Crowe's 2nd Bn., 8th Marines, landing on Red Beach 3. According to official records, only 23 Marines from 2nd Bn. were either killed or wounded going in the result of the accurate, direct fire from the destroyers Dashiell and Ringgold in the lagoon keeping the Japanese buttoned up. John Mohrlang's LVT was one of the unfortunate few hit by shrapnel from a Japanese aerial burst. Mike Mangan said that after the rest of them got to the beach, a Marine by the name of Joe Dikes went back out to the damaged LVT to see if anyone could be helped. He was back shortly, telling everyone that, "They're all dead." The fact that Patrick Gresk, John's number 1 loader, was officially listed as WIA on 20 November and that the USMC notified my grandparents that John was buried at sea on 20 November, it is possible that they were severely wounded but not all dead. Merrill Burrows was the tripod man in John Mohrlang's MG team and he was listed as KIA, so he too was probably in this LVT. Officially John is listed as "died of wounds" on a hospital ship and was buried at sea.
After Tarawa, Co. H was broken up and the different fire teams were farmed out to the "rifle companies" of 2/8 for following operations.
John Morhlang's posthumous Purple Heart. A letter from the USMC to John's parents
regarding his awards and medals can be viewed below. Also a newspaper article
reporting John's death is on the right. Click each to enlarge them.
Photos and research supplied by Gary Mohrlang, nephew of John.
Thanks for your help Gary!! Semper Fi!!!
copyright 2001 Wheaton, Illinois
Created 2 June 2001 - Updated 23 July 2001