Photo uploaded to FindAGrave memorial by Patti Yourko Burns.
Gernie Philip Barnhill
|HOME OF RECORD:
|NEXT OF KIN:
Wife, Mrs. Rosa Barnhill
|DATE OF BIRTH:
6/20/1944 – 3/3/1945
|DATE OF DEATH:
|LAST KNOWN RANK:
Gernie Barnhill was born in February, 1921. His parents, Dudley and Sarah, raised a large family on their farm in Georgetown County, South Carolina; Gerney was probably employed on the farm when Pearl Harbor was attacked. As farming was considered essential war work, the twenty-year-old Barnhill was exempt from military service, and for the next three years continued living in Johnsonville, where he married a local girl named Rosa and started a family.
Barnhill received his draft notice in June, 1944, and dutifully reported to Parris Island for boot camp. He received additional training at Camp Lejeune in New River, North Carolina, before being attached to the 30th Replacement Draft and sent to the Pacific.
Private Barnhill probably landed on Iwo Jima a day or two after the assault waves fought their way across the black sand beaches and into the islands foothills. Members of the replacement draft were given assignments as stevedores and roustabouts on the beach, helping clear wrecked equipment, organize supply depots, and carry a never-ending series of crates from ship to shore. As green troops, they also had the opportunity to experience enemy sniper and mortar fire – and to adjust to the sight of wounded and dead Marines.
Barnhill was assigned to Company B, First Battalion, 24th Marines on February 24, 1945. The company had just been pulled off the line after five days of intense fighting, and its rifle platoons were already well below full strength. Barnhill had four days to fit in with his new comrades – he also observed his 24th birthday – before he was sent into combat.
On March 3, as his company made another attempt on Iwo’s infamous Meat Grinder, Private Gernie Barnhill was killed in action, reportedly by a mortar round. His time with Baker Company had lasted just one week.
After the war, the remains of Gernie Barnhill were buried in Pleasant Hills Baptist Cemetery, Georgetown County, South Carolina.
Gernie’s obituary appeared in the Florence Morning News, 21 December 1948.
Note: The newspaper article mentions that Gernie Barnhill was awarded the Silver Star medal. However, no citation for this medal is known to exist. If you have any further information, please contact the webmaster.