Corporal William Harrison Pierce

Corporal William H. Pierce

Co. A Cor Signal Battalion, 3AC
United States Marine Corps Reserve
18 Feb 1922 – 25 Jul 1944

Corporal William Harrison Pierce just before entering the Marine Corp


Corporal William Harrison Pierce was born 18 February 1822 in West Allis, Wisconsin, the son of John William Ely “Jack” Pierce, Jr. and Elizabeth Anna Louise Schmidt. He died in service to our country 25 of July in the South Pacific during World War II.

Prior to enlisting in the Marine Corps, he was active in boxing. (see more about Golden Gloves Boxing)

The following story was written by Sergeant Gordon D. Marston, 16 Congress St., Stoneham, Mass., a Marine Corps Combat Correspondent.)
March 1944.

Somewhere in the South Pacific—(delayed)—“My service in the Marine Corps has taught me to be more self-reliant and has instilled new confidence in me. I believe I will be a better boxer as a result.”

It was Corporal William Pierce, 21, 8430 West Greenfield Ave., West Allis, Wisconsin, speaking. Milwaukee boxing fans remember him as Billy Pierce, young light heavyweight who won 20 out of 24 fights before joining the Leathernecks.

Ring enthusiasts will also connect him with his brother Jimmy Pierce, who is on the comeback trail after months of boxing inactivity while in the Army. Jimmy was recently given a medical discharge.

As a Marine, Corporal Pierce has had little time to do boxing. Enroute to the South Pacific eight months ago, he put on the gloves while aboard a transport. Conditions were not of the best with the ship rolling and lurching. The “ring” was a hatch cover, but he had little difficulty in winning his exhibition matches. Against inexperienced opponents, Billy pulled his punches.

His duties now as a member of a communications group keep him busy. Virtually at the last minute he decided to enter the Pacific boxing tournament. For 10 days he trained and dropped weight from 180 pounds to 164. His timing was off and he was not prepared to fight at his best, but he did succeed in disposing of two boys before he was edged in a close fight.

Corp. Pierce still follows boxing results in the states with keen interest. Friends send him boxing columns and ring publications.

He intends to return to the ring when peace comes. “Leaving boxing to join the Marines has made me think more seriously,” states Billy. “I know that I am more enthusiastic about boxing right now than I have ever been. This military life has thrown me on my own in a great many respects and certainly it has given me new confidence. Things came pretty easy when I was back in the States and I realized now that I am equipped to be more self-reliant.”

Corporal Pierce plans to go back to Eddie Matrie handling him. Matrie writes him frequently.

The son of Mr. and Mrs. John Pierce of West Allis, Corporal Pierce has been with the Marines for more than a year.

The following Western Union Telegram was dated
August 11 1944
To
JOHN W PIERCE (FATHER)
DEEPLY REGRET TO INFORM YOU THAT YOUR SON CORPORAL WILLIAM H PIERCE USMCR WAS KILLED IN ACTION THE THE PERFORMANCE OF HIS DUTY AND SERVICE OF HIS COUNTRY. NO INFORMATION AVAILABLE AT PRESENT REGARDING DISPOSITION OF REMAINS. TEMPORARY BURIAL IN LOCALITY WHERE DEATH OCCURED PROBABLE. YOU WILL BE PROMPTLY FURNISHED ANY ADDITIONAL INFORMATION RECEIVED. TO PREVENT POSSIBLE AID TO OUR ENEMIES DO NOT DIVULGE THE NAME OF HIS SHIP OR STATION. PLEASE ACCEPT MY HEARTFELT SYMPATHY LETTER FOLLOWS=
A.A. VANDEGRIFT LIEUT GENERAL USMC COMMANDANT OF THE MARINE CORPS.

Letter dated
28 August 1944

My dear Mrs. Pierce,

I wish I could express to you how much the Signal Battalion misses your son. The rest of us share with you your loss at this time for he was so much a part of us.

Your son was a brave man. There are none braver. The Japanese could never match him in his devotion to duty. His actions contributed directly to the return of Guam to the United States.

On the evening of 24 July 1944 during intense enemy shelling your son was engaged in moving radio equipment ashore which he was to operate during the assault. He made one trip through the water over a treacherous reef and was making a second trip in a vehicle from the ship to the beach when an enemy shell hit him directly. Others were wounded but he suffered no pain at all.

So that you may know he was properly cared for, I can tell you that he is now located in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps Cemetery in Plot C, Row 2, Grave 3 on the Island of Guam. his companies around him can be proud of his company.

He leaves an unfilled space with us because of his hearty participation in sports and the social life of the battalion. His popularity among the men and officers made him an outstanding Marine.

We are so proud of him and are grateful to you for having loaned him into our family as an example to others. His loss was our country’s gain.

If we may help you farther, let us know. The mother of a Marine is part of us.

Sincerely,
Allen Sutter
Lt-Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve
Commanding III Corps Signal Battalion

September 9, 1948

Billy was awarded the following medals post-humously.

Copy of Navy Unit Commendation with ribbon bar awarded Third Amphibious Corps Signal Battalion, service on Guam, Marianas Islands.

Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal

Victory Medal World War II

Billy’s remains were moved and re-interred 14 February 1949 in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Oahu Island, Hawaii

Plot C 1215

Add A Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Copyright © 2008 - Sanderson Pierce O'Driscoll Families - is proudly powered by WordPress
Site maintained by Ellen M. Rohr, Linking Your Past Research Service