Pvt Freeman Bright Blair

Pvt Freeman Bright Blair

Birth
Milton, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, USA
Death 21 Aug 1942 (aged 18)
Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands
Memorial Site* Manila, Capital District, National Capital Region, Philippines

* A structure erected in honor of someone whose remains lie elsewhere.

Plot Tablets of the Missing
Memorial ID 56766774 · View Source
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Freeman Bright Blair was raised by guardians William Leitzel and Leah Strassner of Snyder, Pennsylvania. He was born in 1924, and raised on the family farm.

The 1930 U.S. Census shows the family as living in Jackson, Snyder County, Pennsylvania. It is interesting to note that Freeman's last name is recorded as "Leitzel" and not Blair. The following family members are recorded as living in the home at the time:
Head William E Leitzel M 29 Pennsylvania
Wife Leah R Leitzel F 28 Pennsylvania
Son Freeman B Leitzel M 6 Pennsylvania
Dau Anna R Leitzel F 0 Pennsylvania

The Empire of Japan attacked the Hawaiian Islands on December 7, 1941, most specifically, Pearl Harbor. As soon as recruiting stations opened, young, patriotic American boys and girls began to line up to enlist. World War II was in its American infancy and they were ready to answer the new call to arms. Freeman was one of those aspirants seeking to enact revenge on Japan for the dastardly thing they had done. He chose to enlist in the United States Marine Corps and was soon sent to Parris Island, South Carolina, for his boot camp training with the Fifth Recruit Battalion. Upon graduation, Freeman was posted as a private to Company D, First Battalion, First Marine Regiment, at New River, North Carolina, in the spring of 1942.

Freeman was made a member of the battalion's heavy weapons company and learned to use a water-cooled machine gun or an 81mm mortar. Upon the completion of this infantry weapons training, his regiment departed for New Zealand. Shortly after they reached Wellington, New Zealand, they were sent into the active war zone an a place probably unknown to Freeman as it was to most of the world - Guadalcanal, the Solomon Islands. Freeman and his regiment hit the beaches there in August, 1942.

On the morning of August 21, Freeman's company – in division reserve – heard heavy gunfire from the area where their regiment's Second Battalion was standing guard. The battle of the Tenaru was being fought; a Japanese regiment under Colonel Ichiki was throwing itself against the American defenses and being utterly destroyed.

When daylight came and it was sure that Second Battalion could hold, the First Battalion – including Blair's company – crossed the Ilu River to counterattack the enemy. The fighting lasted all day but, supported by a few light tanks, the Marines wiped out nearly every member of Colonel Ichiki's detachment, and scattered the survivors into the jungle. Freeman accounted well for himself in the battle but during the course of valorous fighting, was wounded at least twice. He was evacuated to the rear for treatment by Navy doctors assigned to the battalion, but in the process was shot a third time in the head, killing him.

In Freeman's last battle, a Marine officer noted the courageous actions and fighting spirit he displayed in the face of the enemy. These actions resulted in that officer recommending Freeman for a valor decoration. The award was approved and Freeman was awarded the Silver Star Medal, the third highest award for valor in the American military service. The citation reads as follows:

"The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Private Freeman Bright Blair (MCSN: 341404), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity as a member of a patrol of Company D, First Battalion, First Marines, FIRST Marine Division, during action against enemy Japanese forces on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, on 21 August 1942. While engaged with several hostile patrols in the vicinity of the Tenaru River, Private Blair received a severe bullet wound in his side. Fighting on, despite intense pain and waning strength, he was eventually incapacitated by a bullet wound in his shoulder. While being carried to the rear for treatment of the second injury, he was struck in the head and killed by hostile fire. He gallantly gave his life for his country."

At the time of his death, Freeman's next of kin was recorded as being his guardian, Mr. William E. Leitzel, of Rt 1, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.

Private Freeman Bright Blair, Sn# 341404, earned the following badges/decorations for his service in the United States Marine Corps during World War II"

- Silver Star Medal
- Purple Heart Medal
- Combat Action Ribbon
- Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon
- Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal
- Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with 1 bronze battle/campaign star
- World War II Victory Medal
- Marine Corps Rifle Qualification Badge
- Marine Corps Basic Qualification Badge with Bar(s)


Family Members

Parents
Gravesite Details Entered the service from Pennsylvania.

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  • Maintained by: Rick Lawrence
  • Originally Created by: War Graves
  • Added: 8 Aug 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 56766774
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Pvt Freeman Bright Blair (1 Oct 1923–21 Aug 1942), Find A Grave Memorial no. 56766774, citing Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Manila, Capital District, National Capital Region, Philippines ; Maintained by Rick Lawrence (contributor 47207615) .