Earl Charles Bauknecht
|HOME OF RECORD:
|NEXT OF KIN:
Mother, Mrs. Alvina Bauknecht
|DATE OF BIRTH:
11/8/1943 – 10/11/1945
|DATE OF DEATH:
Purple Heart with Gold Star
|LAST KNOWN RANK:
Earl Bauknecht was the son of Oscar and Alvina Bauknecht, small-town dairy farmers in rural Wisconsin.
Bauknecht had scarcely turned eighteen when a draft notice showed up at his home on Route 2 in Deerbrook, Wisconsin. Within days he was on his way to San Diego, where he whisked through boot camp. The transformation from farm boy to Marine was as swift as it was jarring; on January 15, 1944, Private Bauknecht was detailed to the Fourth Signal Company, Fourth Marine Division.
In February 1944, Bauknecht began hearing news reports of the invasion of Roi-Namur. His own division had taken the islands in the Kwajalein atoll, and the combat units were returning to a camp on Maui to rest, refit, and prepare for the next invasion. Bauknecht, a qualified rifleman, was one of dozens of Marines detailed to report to the 24th Marines as a replacement; on February 21, the young private became a member of Charlie Company, 24th Marines.
Exactly four months and one day later, Earl Bauknecht was writhing on the ground of another island. It was June 22, 1944 on Saipan, and Charlie Company was in the process of fighting off a Japanese ambush. In the melee, Private Bauknecht was wounded badly enough to warrant evacuation from the front lines. The nature of his wound and his treatment aren’t known, but Bauknecht was returned, bandaged and sore, to Charlie Company in time to make the July 24 landing on Tinian.
The Japanese on Tinian had better aim, or Bauknecht had worse luck. He was hit a second time on July 25, 1944, probably as his battalion fought off a massive banzai charge, and was again taken away for hospital treatment. This was the end of combat for eighteen year old Bauknecht; he would spend the next eight months in a series of hospitals before getting light duty as a guard at the Navy Building in Washington, D. C. Health problems plagued him for the rest of 1945; he was admitted to the Bethesda Naval Hospital in July, and on October 11, 1945, was finally discharged for reasons of disability. The Corps promoted him to corporal on the day of his discharge.
After the war, Earl Bauknecht married and evidently raised a family; little is known of his life. He died in Idaho in 1989.