Manuel Claude Avancena


Manuel Claude Avancena
Washington, D. C.
Wife, Mrs. Anne Avancena
8/9/1942 – 11/6/1945
Roi-Namur HQ/1/24 641 PFC
Saipan HQ/1/24 641 PFC
Tinian HQ/1/24 641 PFC
Iwo Jima HQ/1/24 641 PFC WIA
Purple Heart
Private First Class

Manuel Avancena was born in Washington, DC in 1923. He was of Filipino extraction, being the son of Francisca Avancena, a native of Tholio, Philippine Islands. Avancena grew up in the nation’s capital and graduated from high school; he was employed as a law clerk when the war broke out, and set aside his future plans (among them, starting a band) (1) to join the Marine Corps.

Private Avancena trained at Parris Island, and then had additional instruction in the field of communications. He was assigned to Headquarters of the 1st Separate Battalion at New River, North Carolina in the spring of 1943, and became a field lineman with the communications platoon of 1/24. Avancena served as a communications expert in the battles of Roi-Namur, Saipan, Tinian, and Iwo Jima, where he was slightly wounded. (2) When not in combat or attending to his heavy spools of wire, Avancena could be found writing either to his wife, Anne, or completing correspondence courses. The war ended before Avancena was called upon to invade Japan, and he mustered out in November, 1945 as a private first class. (3)

After the war, Avancena returned to Washington, DC, and his job as a clerk. Sadly, his marriage to Anne fell apart not long after he came back; they were divorced in 1947, and Manuel carried on with his work. He entered George Washington University in 1948 to study law. Stymied by a shorthand course he was required to take. Avancena began working on his own method – and grew so fascinated with it that he nearly flunked out of school. Though he eventually passed his courses, Avancena’s obsession with shorthand was unchecked; lacking the money to set up his own practice, he worked days as a law secretary, and nights teaching his shorthand method in a one-room school he opened in the same building.

Within six months, Avancena’s shorthand class was so popular that he had to move to another building – where he could have an entire floor for students. He wrote a textbook in 1961 entitled “A-B-C Shorthand” which claimed to teach anyone shorthand within 30 days; by 1968 his method (also known as Stenoscript) was being taught in over 2,000 schools and colleges nationwide. By that time, he was a twenty-year veteran of the Washington, DC legal system with plans to open his own business school, and a plan to start writing more seriously – his first book, out of a planned four, was The Ham Story “which includes not only recipes but a complete history on the use and preparation of ham.” Unfortunately, a copy could not be located by this writer. (4)

Avancena remarried to a woman named Valerie and went on to raise a family. His son, also named Manuel, attended VMI an officer with the 82nd Airborne; he participated in the invasion of Grenada in 1984 and was decorated with the Army Achievement Medal.


Manuel Avancena died in Alexandria, Virginia on May 16, 1987, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

(1) Kathie Newcomb, “Manuel Avancena was a ‘Shorthand Dropout.’” The News, Frederick, Maryland, April 8, 1968. Page 8.
(2) Avancena does not appear on the muster rolls as wounded, so determining the date of this event is not yet possible. He was awarded the Purple Heart on April 12, 1945.
(3) Avancena was recommended for the Bronze Star for his actions in the Marianas campaign. Whether he received this decoration is unknown.
(4) Newcomb.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s