The following is the text of the letter from his commanding officer to his mother, MARY B. MURPHY.
(printed letterhead) UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS (handwritten) 12 January 1944 Dear Mrs. Murphy: It is with deep regret that I write to you this letter to inform you of the details of the death of your son Donald L. Bertsche, private first class, U.S. Marine corps. Donald was killed about 1:30 on the 25th of November in the Empress Augusta Bay Area, Bougainville. "A" Company had jumped off in an attack to drive back the right flank of a Japanese held line. Donald's platoon made contact with the enemy and conducted a fire fight with the enemy for three hours before being with drawn to allow mortar fire to be placed on the Japs. Donald was one of the riflemen covering this withdrawal. When he raised up to fire he was shot through the left chest. Though he received prompt medical attention he died fifteen minutes later. Through out the campaign Donald had proven himself to be a brave and courageous Marine, but on this day he was particularly outstanding. For his personal bravery and devotion to duty both during the fight and in the act of covering the withdrawal, he has been recommended for the Silver Star. I am unable to tell you whether or not the recommendation has been approved. Donald's death was a shock and a personal loss to the officers and men of this Company. He was our friend. Because of his clean record, the fine showing he made during the operation, his friendliness and cleanness of character, he was held in high regard by all of us who knew him. His memory will inspire and encourage uss in all future operations. I hope that you may be comforted in some measure by the fact that he was killed in action fighting for his country. Donald was buried in Island Cemetery Number Three, Empress Agusta Bay Area, Bougainville. This is a beautiful well kept spot located in a coconut grove. The ground has been cleared of all brush and covered with gravel. The cemetry (sic) is inclosed (sic) in a white log fence. The graves are marked with a white cross on which the identification is painted in black. If there is any thing I can do or any questions I can answer please do not hesitate to write. In deepest sympathy, I remain, Co A Ninth Marine Sincerely yours c/o FPO San Francisco, Calif. C.M. Fowler Capt. USMC
DONALD L. BERTSCHE was posthumously awarded the purple heart on January 27, 1944 and the Silver Star on May 30, 1944.
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