PFC Elmer Lewis “Rabbit” Mathies, Jr

PFC Elmer Lewis “Rabbit” Mathies, Jr

Crosbyton, Crosby County, Texas, USA
Death 20 Nov 1943 (aged 20)
Tarawa, Gilbert Islands, Kiribati
Burial Hereford, Deaf Smith County, Texas, USA
Memorial ID 148341141 · View Source
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Born in Crosbyton, Texas to Elmer Sr & Eunice (Carmack) Mathies, Elmer Lewis Mathies, Jr and his family moved to Hereford when he was very young. Elmer - along with his younger brother and sister, Thomas and Mary Jo - was raised in Hereford schools and at the Hereford First United Methodist Church.

At the age of 17, he requested his parents sign for him to be enlisted into the Marine Corps Reserve where he was called to active duty. He went through training at Camp Elliott (San Diego, CA) in preparation for combat in the Pacific Theater. He was station for 10 months in Samoa prior to serving in the Battle of Guadalcanal and subsequent R&R in Wellington, New Zealand.

PFC Mathies was a member of Headquarters Company/2/8 of the 2nd Marine Division when they landed on Betio. Their mission was to secure the island in order to control the Japanese airstrip in the Tarawa Atoll; thereby preventing the Japanese Imperial forces from getting closer to the United States, and enabling US forces to get closer to mainland Japan. It would become one of the bloodiest battles in the Corps history.

It was November 20th (D-Day for the "Battle of Tarawa"), when young Elmer - just 20 years old - perished.

Remembered by Elwin B Hart, Col. USMC (ret),

"Rabbit was sitting up on the edge of our mortar pit. Sergeant Dick Hogue, our Battalion Wire Chief, let out a yell at Rabbit and almost simultaneously, a shot rang out and Rabbit tumbled to the floor of the dugout. Dick ran to him and realized he had been shot through the heart. Dick was pretty shook up and spent some time trying to revive him, to no avail. So we had to put Rabbit up on the outside of the dugout and get on with our jobs. Rabbit lay there for the next three days along with the many other KIA’s on Tarawa."

In 2015, a non-governmental organization, History Flight, Inc., notified DPAA that they discovered an additional burial site on the island and recovered what they believed to be 35 sets of remains; they also conducted genealogy research and provided the contact information enabling the Marine Corps to reach out to the surviving family members. Lab analysis, in conjunction with the totality of circumstantial evidence available, established PFC Mathies remains were recovered at that time.

Elmer Jr. is preceded in death by his parents, Elmer and Eunice Mathies, formerly of Amarillo, Texas; his brother Thomas Mathies formerly of Houston, Texas, his niece and nephew, Janice Gunther, formerly of Show Low, Arizona and Ron Bowen, formerly of Mansfield, Texas.

He is survived by his Sister, Mary Jo Mathies Hopson, of Plano, Texas; Sister-In-Law, Margaret Mathies, of Houston, Texas, Nieces and Nephews, Denise Cable (Ken), of Plano, Texas; Quynn Mathies, of Katy, Texas; Cara Coless (Lou) of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

A Funeral Service will be held at 2:00 pm, May 28th at the First United Methodist Church, 501 N. Main Street, Hereford, Texas. Burial services will follow at West Park Cemetery, Hereford. Military Honors will be conducted by the United States Marine Corps and Texas Panhandle Patriots Guard. Services are entrusted to and will be conducted by Hereford Heritage Funeral Home, 411 E 6th Street, Hereford.

This memorial represents a memorial marker placed by his parents following the report that he'd been killed in action. Rabbit will finally be laid to rest here on May 28.

PFC Mathies is also memorialized among the Tablets of the Missing in Honolulu (56124582).

Link - Obituary and Guestbook compliments of Hereford Heritage Funeral Home

Family Members



JUL 30 1943 NOV 20 1943

Gravesite Details Birth Certificate indicates that he was born July 29th, 1923 at 2:00AM.

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  • Created by: JSMorrison
  • Added: 26 Jun 2015
  • Find A Grave Memorial 148341141
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for PFC Elmer Lewis “Rabbit” Mathies, Jr (30 Jul 1923–20 Nov 1943), Find A Grave Memorial no. 148341141, citing West Park Cemetery, Hereford, Deaf Smith County, Texas, USA ; Maintained by JSMorrison (contributor 47978427) .