Otto Henry Becker
|HOME OF RECORD:
|NEXT OF KIN:
Mother, Mrs. Henry Becker
|DATE OF BIRTH:
11/2/1942 – 6/15/1944
|DATE OF DEATH:
Purple Heart with Gold Star
|LAST KNOWN RANK:
Private First Class
Otto Becker was born in Sanborn, Minnesota, in 1922. His large family – Otto was one of Henry and Marie Becker’s seven children – was supported by Henry’s work as a laborer on a construction dragline.
Other details of Becker’s life before the Marine Corps are sparse. He enlisted in November, 1942 at the age of twenty and went through boot camp at MCRD San Diego. The following January, he was assigned to the 14th Replacement Battalion, but instead of heading overseas, he was sent to Camp Elliott, California. Becker evidently displayed a talent for languages, as he spent several months at the camp’s Japanese Language School.
Private Becker completed his linguistics course in July, 1943, but instead of becoming a translator he was trained as a machine gunner at another Camp Elliott facility. In September, he was assigned to Company B, 24th Marines.
Becker was promoted to Private First Class on January 1, 1944; within two weeks he was on his way to combat in the Marshall Islands. He had little chance to use either his Japanese knowledge or his skill with a Browning, as he was wounded early in the fighting for the island of Namur on February 1. Becker was evacuated to the hospital ship USS Solace, and spent the next two months recuperating in Hawaii.
Eventually, Becker was deemed fit for duty once again, and rejoined his company at Camp Maui. He picked up his training once again, carrying his machine gun on long conditioning hikes in the Hawaiian heat and shooting countless rounds at the firing range. In May, he boarded the USS Calvert and sailed for the invasion of Saipan.
Otto Becker’s second invasion was just as short as his first – and far more tragic. He was killed in action within hours of landing on June 15, 1944.
Four days later, PFC Becker was buried in Plot #2, Row #3, Grave 204 of the Fourth Marine Division Cemetery on Saipan. His body remained there for the next four years. On December 27, 1948, in the depths of a Minnesota winter, Otto Becker was buried in the family plot next to his brother Carl and his father Henry. Visitors to the Zion Lutheran Cemetery in Sanborn can stop and pay their respects.
Some of Otto Becker’s personal effects, including his Purple Heart medals, were acquired by a private collector at an estate sale in 2007.