Harvey S. Armstrong


Harvey Samuel Armstrong
Chicago, IL
Sister, Mrs. Rachel Robinson
9/23/1942 – 9/11/1945
Roi-Namur D/1/24 504 PFC  
Saipan B/1/24 504 PFC MIA
Tinian B/1/24 504 PFC  
Iwo Jima B/1/24 504 PFC WIA
Purple Heart
Private First Class

Harvey Armstrong was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Robert and Maria Armstrong. His parents passed away while he was young, and in 1940 Harvey and his brother Robert were living with their older sister Rachel and her family. Harvey finished high school, and was employed as a grocer’s clerk when Pearl Harbor was attacked.

After enlisting, Armstrong went to train at the San Diego recruit depot; he was part of the First Recruit Battalion in the fall of 1942. His first post as a green private was at the Naval Air Station at Tongue Point, Oregon; in the summer of 1943 he was serving as a PFC at a similar station in Astoria.

Armstrong had been a Marine for nearly a year when he was transferred to a post in California. He reported to Camp Pendleton, where the Fourth Marine Division was forming, and was assigned to Company D, First Battalion, 24th Marines. As an ammunition carrier for the company’s second machine gun platoon, Armstrong was one of several men responsible for making sure his team’s M1917 Browning heavy machine gun kept well supplied.

In January 1944, Armstrong and his battalion boarded the USS DuPage and set sail for the Marshall Islands, where they participated in the invasion of Roi-Namur the following month. Although Dog Company’s gunners performed well in their first battle, the Corps was reorganizing, and their company was split up into platoons and dispersed. Armstrong, along with most of the second platoon, joined the battalion’s Company B as part of a new, larger machine gun section.

Harvey Armstrong went on to serve in the battles of Saipan and Tinian; though his designation as an ammo carrier did not officially change, the casualties in his company meant that he probably spent as much time behind the gun as beside it with boxes of bullets. (1)

Armstrong (center) after Tinian. Robert Gabourie on left, Homer Davis on right.
Armstrong (center) after Tinian. Robert Gabourie on left, Homer Davis on right.

Armstrong’s combat luck would hold until February 21, 1945. His company was attached to the 25th Marines for an attack on a stubborn objective on Iwo Jima, but Armstrong never saw the outcome of the fight; he was wounded in action and evacuated back to a hospital ship. (2) For him, the fighting was over.

PFC Armstrong was treated aboard ship, and then at the 369th Station Hospital on Saipan. He gradually worked his way back towards the United States, stopping at the Aiea Heights hospital and finally returning to Oregon, where he was admitted to the Naval Hospital at Corvallis. With his wounds healed and the war over, Armstrong was honorably discharged in September, 1945. He wore the Purple Heart in addition to his campaign and division decorations, making an impressive row of medals for his dress uniform.

Harvey Armstrong married in 1948 and raised two sons. He passed away in 2008, at the age of 88 and is buried in Graceland Cemetery, Bridgman, Michigan.

(1) Armstrong is listed as “missing in action” from July 1 to July 14, 1944, during the fighting for Saipan. Five other Marines from his company were so listed, and no explanation for their absence has been determined.
(2) Baker Company lost 3 killed and 23 wounded on February 21. In addition to Harvey, eight gunners were wounded. PFCs James Nicoll, Noble Bowers, Charles Brown, and Corporal James Naurot were all evacuated to the same ship as Armstrong; they may have all served on the same crew.

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