Letter Regarding the Death of Donald L. Bertsche

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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Last modified May 20, 1997 by Kirk Bertsche, KBertsche@aol.com