Ralph H. Paquette

Ralph H. Paquette

World War II · US Marine Corps · Private

PAQUETTE, Ralph H, PFC E-2, 390372, USMC

    PAQUETTE, Ralph H, PFC E-2, 390372, USMC

    Born 21 Oct 1922 in Burlington, VT to Frank Paquette and Elmire Dupuis. He was the 6th and last child of the family.

    Graduated from Nazareth Elementary Catholic school in June of 1936 Graduated from Burlington High School in 1940 and then worked at Girard Baking Company.

    09 May 1939 – Ralph and Richard; both KIA in WWII, and brother Donald, a US Marine who survived; were pall bearers at the funeral of their grandfather William Paquette.

    In 1941 he was the owner of Paquettes Book Shop

    05 May 1942 - Enlisted into the US Marine Corps and trained at Parris Island.

    24 Jul 1942 – On furlough in Burlington from training at New River, NC.

    15 Aug 1942 went overseas.

    22 Nov 1943 KIA at Empress Augusta Bay, Bougainville, in the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. In Company K (some have Co. I), 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines, 3rd Marine Division

    Buried at Manila American Cemetery

    14 Dec 1943 Mass for him at St Josephs Church in Burlington, VT

    The USMC 3rd Marine Division.

    The 3d Marine Division officially activated 16 September 1942 at Camp Elliott, San Diego, California. By August 1943 the Division was stationed on Guadalcanal where special training and rehearsals for the Bougainville operation were intensified. On 1 November 1943 the Division landed at Empress Augusta Bay, Bougainville. For approximately two months, the Division participated in the fight against stiff and heavy enemy resistance.

    The actual landing by the 3d Marine Division at Empress Augusta Bay on Bougainville took place at dawn on 1 November. The bay, located at some distance from the heavily defended airfields at either end of the island, had what appeared to be the most suitable beaches for a landing. The plan was to establish a beachhead, then bring in supplies and equipment to build a landing strip for fighters.

    Invasion forces consisted of 14,321 troops (including the 1st Marine Dog Platoon with their 24 Dobermans and German Shepherds) in 12 transports, preceded by a minesweeper group. Destroyer Squadron 45, four minelayers and two salvage tugs provided further support.

    The landing met with several obstacles. The Japanese defenses of the beaches were stronger than anticipated. The 40,000 troops on the island had been reported to be stationed mainly around the airfields, and aerial reconnaissance photos did not reveal the extensive system of bunkers in the jungles above the beaches. The Marines who landed west of the mouth of the Koromokina River encountered steep slopes and shoals on which more than 80 of their amphibious craft foundered. Those landing east of the Koromokina were caught in crossfire from machine guns on the offshore islet of Puruata and on Cape Torokina east of the beach. A small contingent of Marines knocked out the gun emplacement on the cape after it had destroyed or damaged 14 landing craft and the 3d Marine Raiders captured Puruata. The landing force drove away the rest of the Japanese defenders, while the war dog platoon, moving ahead of the main body, sniffed out snipers along the trails of the bog-ridden jungle.

    In spite of the resistance, and two Japanese air assaults launched from Rabaul bases during the day (which were driven off by AirSols fighters), the Marines succeeded. By nightfall, all 14,000 troops, together with 6,200 tons of fuel, rations, and ammunition, were landed along a 200-yard perimeter.

    This story is part of the Stories Behind the Stars project (see www.storiesbehindthestars.org). This is a national effort of volunteers to write the stories of all 400,000+ of the US WWII fallen here on Fold3. Can you help write these stories? Related to this, there will be a smart phone app that will allow people to visit any war memorial or cemetery, scan the fallen's name and read his/her story.