Robert Edgar Bales, Jr.
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Parents, Mr & Mrs Robert E. Bales
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11/8/1943 – 12/21/1945
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Robert Bales was born in 1925, the youngest son of Bob and Mamie Bales. He grew up in Columbia, Mississippi with his older brothers, Ollie and Howard. Eighteen-year-old Bales was one of the first men in his area to receive his draft notice; on November 8, 1943 he entered the Marine Corps and traveled to San Diego for boot camp. Although he was a Selective Service inductee, Bales proved to be as gung-ho as any volunteer–as one of the top in his training platoon, he was promoted to Private First Class immediately after graduation, and wore the silver cross badge of a rifle sharpshooter. He was sent to Hawaii to join the 4th Signal Battalion.
On February 21, 1944, PFC Bales was reassigned to Company B, 24th Marines, as a replacement rifleman. He trained for the invasion of the Marianas during the spring, but was either injured or seriously ill when the invasion force left Hawaii, and was ordered to remain behind in the care of a naval hospital. He was waiting for Baker Company when they returned from securing Saipan and Tinian, and once again began preparing for an amphibious invasion.
Bales was fit and ready for duty the day his division set sail for Iwo Jima, and made his first combat landing on that island of February 19, 1945. However, he was not in the fight for long – on February 21, 1945, one year to the day after he joined Baker Company, Bales was wounded and evacuated from Iwo via the USS Samaritan. He eventually saw Saipan, but only from the confines of the 148th General Hospital, where his wounds were treated. Within a few weeks, Bales was deemed fit for active duty and returned to Camp Maui, where he was reunited with his surviving friends in Company B.
Bales spent the rest of the war training for the planned invasion of Japan, but was spared further combat when the Japanese surrendered on September 2, 1945. He was discharged from the service as a corporal the following December.
After the war, Robert Bales settled in McComb, Mississippi, and found work as a carpenter. Tragically, a head-on car crash took his life on December 12, 1954. He was just twenty nine years old.
Bales is buried in McComb’s Hollywood Cemetery.