Roger Norman Arsenault
|HOME OF RECORD:
New Britain, CT
|NEXT OF KIN:
Mother, Mrs. Claire Arsenault
|DATE OF BIRTH:
5/5/1942 – 3/4/1945
|DATE OF DEATH:
Purple Heart with Gold Star
|LAST KNOWN RANK:
Roger Arsenault was the son of Québécois parents. Anthoney and Clairina emigrated to Massachusetts in 1911 and 1912, respectively; their four children, Edmund, Roger, Claire and Alfred were all born in the Bay State but moved to New Britain, Connecticut in the late 1920s. Anthoney was the town barber before his unexpected death in 1930.
Roger joined the Marine Corps in May, 1942, and trained at Parris Island with the 3rd Recruit Battalion. He was assigned to Battery C, First Separate Pack Howitzer Battalion, then part of the Third Marines at Camp Lejeune. The battery had a discipline problem, and many of its privates overstayed their furloughs or just took off and went AWOL. One who did was Private Arsenault, who simply did not come back after an authorized liberty on July 22, 1942. He was not returned to his unit for several days.
It was common practice for commanders to deal with unruly enlisted men by simply transferring them to other units. Company B of the First Separate Battalion was a common destination, and so it was that Private Arsenault found himself reporting for duty with the new infantry unit. He straightened out while serving with Baker Company, and was promoted to Private First Class one year almost to the day after his French leave. Arsenault was trained as a machine gunner, and aside from a second instance of “absent over leave” – for which he was excused, an extremely rare event in First Battalion, 24th Marines – the next months of his life were spent in the dusty hills and cold surf of Camp Pendleton, California.
PFC Arsenault first saw action during the invasion of Namur in February, 1944. He was present for the June 15 landing on Saipan, but within hours joined nineteen of his company on the way back to the beach – all had been wounded, and were slated for evacuation.
Arsenault saw no more of Saipan than those few hours; he was sent back to the Aiea Heights Naval Hospital, and subsequently missed the battle of Tinian. By the time he was declared fit to return to duty, his Company B had been badly chewed up and was taking in fresh replacements. As a wounded veteran, Arsenault was a natural choice for promotion to corporal.
Corporal Arsenault landed on Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945. He managed to survive for two weeks before being ordered into a direct assault against enemy positions on March 4; the battalion suffered heavy casualties while gaining less than 100 yards. One of the many dead was Roger Arsenault.
After the war, Roger’s body was returned to the United States. He is buried in Long Island National Cemetery, Farmingdale, New York.