Corp Jack Francis Lyons

Corp Jack Francis Lyons

Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, USA
Death 14 Aug 1943 (aged 27)
Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands
Burial Manila, Capital District, National Capital Region, Philippines
Plot Tablets of the Missing - USMC
Memorial ID 56765552 · View Source
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The landing on Guadalcanal went unopposed. The Japanese waited in the jungle for the coming battle with the Marines. The Intelligence Section set about gathering and analyzing information they gleaned from the area. On August 12th, a Marine patrol from the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, captured a Japanese soldier named Sakado, found in their area. The Marines learned that the Japanese west of the Matanikau River were a disorganized and demoralized group, short on food and in poor health. They could, Sakado thought, be induced to surrender given the proper conditions.

The commander of the Intelligence Section, Colonel Frank Bryan Goettge, had been annoyed by the rush job that intelligence had been forced into in New Zealand and the now apparent shortcomings in maps and other data were becoming more evident. Sakado was a godsend. Col. Goettge sent First Sergeant Steven Custer to organize a patrol, which Goettge himself would head. They would take an interpreter, a doctor, a good portion of the intelligence section and some riflemen for support, and boat across to a secluded beach where a white flag had reportedly been seen. They would convince the Japanese there to surrender and work their way back to Headquarters the next day, with Goettge presumably at the head of a cluster of happily surrendered Japanese.

Jack, who was a draftsman in the intelligence section, watched as more and more of his men were picked to go on the patrol, each one a specialist replacing a fighter (bear in mind that all Marines are combat infantrymen no matter their job). The second in command, Captain Wilfred Ringer, would come along as second in command of the patrol. Lieutenant Cory would act as interpreter, and even the job of prisoner bodyguard – an easy task for the most junior private – was given to a trained intelligence man, Platoon Sergeant Denzil Ray Caltrider. The reorganization took hours, causing Custer's original timetable for the patrol to be thrown off.

The patrol, consisting of 25 men plus Sakado (who was led by a rope around his neck by Platoon Sergeant Caltrider) set out from the camp at Kukum at about 1800 hours – a twelve hour delay caused by the numerous personnel changes. The men were traveling light, carrying enough food for one day, a canteen, a poncho, and only light weapons (Custer had wanted heavy machine-guns but Col. Goettge denied this request).

Due to tidal issues, the delay caused another problem – it was now too late to risk heading for the original landing site. Ignoring the warnings of Lieutenant Colonel Bill Whaling and the cries of Sakado, who begged them not to land there, the boat turned for shore and landed about 200 yards west of the Matanikau. The boat ran up on a sandbar, forcing the Marines to jump over the gun-whales and rock it free, creating quite a racket. They waded in to shore and, taking cover behind a line of banyan trees, held a quick council of war. All the noise they had made and now this pause gave the Japanese soldiers of the 2nd Platoon, 11th CU Security Force under Lt. Soichi Shindo, plenty of time to pick their targets. As Col. Goettge led an advance party into the treeline, two shots rang out. Col. Goettge fell dead with a shot to the head. The seriously wounded 1stSgt Custer dropped beside him. Two Marines who crawled forward to check on the men recovered Goettge's insignia and wristwatch. Command passed to Captain Wilfred Ringer who dragged the mortally wounded 1st Sgt. Custer to the perimeter – there was no cover on the beach – and yelled an order to call back the boat. One of the corporals ran into the surf and fired wildly in the air at the still visible boat, but to no avail. The Marines were trapped. Soon, Captain Ringer was wounded. Lieutenant Cory was down with an agonizing stomach wound. Regimental Surgeon Dr. Malcolm Pratt,USN, was shot while tending to a wounded man. Every few minutes, a Marine was hit. As more Marines dropped, killed or wounded, Captain Ringer called for Corporal William Bainbridge and ordered him to head back along the beach to the American perimeter to get help. Bainbridge set off at a run and disappeared into the darkness never to be seen alive again (Cpl. Bainbridge's bullet riddeled body would be found by a Marine Patrol a week later, several hundred yards from where the Goettge Patrol was massacred. He was buried were he fell).

The survivors formed a defensive perimeter on the beach, and over the course of the night and following morning the Marines were gradually picked off by the Japanese defenders. By dawn, the patrol had been wiped out aside from three survivors who managed to swim back to friendly lines one at a time. They reported seeing Japanese swords "flashing in the sun" as they fell upon their wounded and dead comrades.

The bodies of the Goettge Patrol were never recovered. There were accounts of knowing where they were and that they had been thrown into fighting trenches and covered up. There were at least three reports over the following weeks after the fight that the bodies were partially buried in the sand with limbs sticking out of the makeshift graves. One report, made by a Marine years later stated he was on patrol at the scene of the slaughter and personally saw the mutilated bodies of Goettge's patrol to include decapitated torsos and boots with limbs still attached. But no bodies were ever recovered.

Jack's remains as well as the remains of the rest of the men from the Goettge Patrol are lost to this day. Several recovery attempts over the past 70 years have found nothing and it is suspected now that building in the area and the change of the shoreline will result in the patrol's remains never being recovered.

Family Members



Corporal Lyons served as a draftsman with the Intelligence Section, 1st Marine Division on Guadalcanal, he joined a patrol led by Colonel Frank Goettge on the night of 12 August 1942.

Gravesite Details Entered the service from Ohio.


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  • Maintained by: Rick Lawrence
  • Originally Created by: CWGC/ABMC
  • Added: 8 Aug 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 56765552
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Corp Jack Francis Lyons (10 Oct 1915–14 Aug 1943), Find A Grave Memorial no. 56765552, citing Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Manila, Capital District, National Capital Region, Philippines ; Maintained by Rick Lawrence (contributor 47207615) .