1Lt Sylvanus Simon George “Paul” Grasser

1Lt Sylvanus Simon George “Paul” Grasser

Birth
Porterfield, Marinette County, Wisconsin, USA
Death 24 Apr 1944 (aged 30)
Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea
Burial Manila, Capital District, National Capital Region, Philippines
Memorial ID 56782634 · View Source
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Sylvanus Grasser: 1913 – 1944
Sylvanus Simon George Grasser was born July 21, 1913 near Porterfield, Marinette County, Wisconsin. He was the eighth of nine siblings born to Michael and Wilhelmina Grasser. He was reared on his parent's farm and attended country school just down the road from there. He later went to Marinette County Normal School where he graduated with high honors in the agricultural course, which he completed in three years. He was also active in 4-H work and participated in the Civilian Conservation Corp (C.C.C.) after graduating from school.
On July 10th of 1934, Sylvanus enlisted with the Army at Fort Sheridan, Illinois in Troop "B", 14th Cavalry, serial #6830085. After three years of service, he was honorably discharged at Fort Knox, Kentucky on July 13th, 1937.
After his stint in the service, he worked for a short time as a salesman in New York City. While on a visit to New Hampshire to see his brother, Raymond, Sylvanus was converted to the Advent Christian faith of which his brother was a minister. Raymond baptized Sylvanus also while he was there. And he remained this faith until his death.
Around 1939 he became active in the National Guard and retained his original serial number. When war broke out in Europe, Sylvanus enlisted in the army a second time, serial #O-1284323. He was made a sergeant with the 42nd Ordinance Company, which was stationed at an ammunitions depot near Davenport, Iowa.
About Thanksgiving time in 1941, he and one of his friends went to the coliseum in Davenport in order to go dancing and to listen to the Champaign music of Lawrence Welk and his band who were playing there that night. Ursula Huls, who was a native of Davenport, was also there with one of her girlfriends. By chance Sylvanus and Ursula met that night. After an engagement of one year, they married on April 11th, 1942, while being stationed at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia, which was where he was stationed next for two months in its Infantry Officer Candidate School (OCS). Their formal military wedding took place in the chapel on the Army base at the Harmony Church cantonment of the fort. In full military regalia, his fellow officers concluded the wedding ceremony dramatically and symbolically when they dignified the newlywed's recessional by flashing their arched swords over them.
Sylvanus then went on to Rolla, Missouri at Fort Leonard Wood, which was where the 6th Division was being assembled. Sylvanus was assigned to as a 1st Lieutenant with the HEADQUARTER and HEADQUARTERS Company of the 63rd Regular Infantry Regiment, who were 95 man strong . On November 25, 1942, the Division was ordered to Yuma, Arizona and Camp Laguna for desert training in the Sonoran Desert with the expectation that they would be sent to fight in North Africa as a mechanized infantry division. But due to unexpected Allied successes in North Africa, it was decided to retrain the 6th Division in jungle warfare with the anticipation of deployment in the Southwest Pacific. In March of 1943 the 6th Division was sent next to Camp Roberts at San Luis Obispo in California to begin intensive training, stressing close and fast combat with rapid movement and synchronized maneuvers.
Ursula's first and only child, a son, William Jackman, was born July 18, 1943 in Davenport, Iowa one day before Sylvanus set sail for duty in the Hawaiian Islands. Sylvanus never saw his son. From July 1943 until January 31, 1944, he was stationed on the island of Oahu assuming defensive positions, but also continuing training in jungle warfare. On February 2, 1944 his regiment was deployed and stationed at the Allied military base at Milne Bay on the island of New Guinea, thus becoming part of one of the major military campaigns of World War II, the "New Guinea campaign".
New Guinea was strategically important during the war because it was a major landmass to the immediate north of Australia. Its large land area, the world's second largest island, provided locations for large land, air and naval bases. Milne Bay, which was a sheltered bay located at the eastern tip of the Territory of Papua, was 22 miles long and almost 10 miles wide consisting of 97 square miles of water, deep enough for large ships to enter. The Allied base there was constructed at the head of the bay where the ground was firm and suitable for its three airstrips; army base; huge naval depot; P.T. boat base, repair and maintenance facility plus a couple Station Hospitals. In 1942 this area was occupied by plantations of palm oil, coconut, and cocoa, but by 1943 it had become a major Allied base, which was utilized by the United States greatly as a staging area during its offense in the southwest Pacific.
The 6th Division set up camp next to the Australian troops in a place that was a palm tree plantation owned by the Palmolive Oil Company. Because of Japanese snipers in the trees at Milne Bay, the jungle was cleared back and camp was setup with the tents placed a foot above the ground, so to keep out the rain, mud and leeches. Although cigarettes and Atabrine for malaria seemed to be adequate, supplies for food and ammunition were a problem due to the cargo ships not being able to get in and unload their cargo fast enough.
On the morning of April 24, 1944 Sylvanus volunteered for hazardous duty with his team of ten men. They were sent to clear mines from the shipping lanes in Milne Bay near Hihilai plantation. While utilizing their P.T. boat, they successfully detonated nine mines, but the tenth mine exploded sinking their boat in shark infested waters. Only one man made it back to shore alive. He told his story of what happened before he died too. Sylvanus' body was never recovered. At the end of the war, approximately 216,000 Japanese, Australian and U.S. soldiers, sailors and airmen died during the "New Guinea campaign" which lasted from 1942 through 1945.
On May 10, 1944 Sylvanus' widow, Ursula, received word confirming his death from General Douglas MacArthur which was contained in a two page letter explaining all the details. Sylvanus was to have been promoted to Captain that following month after his death. He had also received acceptance for transfer to the "Army of Occupation" in Germany at the conclusion of his Pacific assignment. He died at the age of thirty.
At Fort Bonifacio in Manila, a remembrance, memorial and cemetery for U.S. military that died in World War II was finally completed and dedicated on December 8, 1960 at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippines. This place of reverence contains the largest number of graves of military dead, a total of 17,202, most of whom lost their lives in operations in New Guinea and the Philippines. On the "Tablets of the Missing" 36,285 honored names are inscribed on rectangular "Trani" marble limestone piers of which rests the name Sylvanus S. Grasser.
Sylvanus Simon George Grasser Biography
Copyrighted © 2014 by Allen P. Grasser


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LIEUT. GRASSER KILLED IN ACTION
First Report Told He Was Missing

After first being reported missing in action, it was learned that First Lieut. Sylvanus Grasser, 30, of the town of Porterfield, was killed in action April 24. Word was received Sunday night by his brother, Everist Grasser, route 2, Marinette. He was in New Guinea with the 63rd infantry since February of this year.
The lieutenant was born July 12, 1914, and was reared on a farm at the town of Porterfield, now operated by Everist Grasser. He was educated in the rural schools, and attended Marinette County Normal school, graduating with high honors in the agricultural course, which he completed in three years.
Also active in 4-H work in Porterfield, he entered the service in 1934 after graduation and at the expiration of his three-year enlistment worked for a short time as a salesman in New York City. He returned to military duty in 1940 and was stationed on the Hawaiian Islands from July, 1943, until February.
He is survived by his wife and son, William Jackman, aged I, whom he never saw, of Davenport, Ia.; his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Michael Grasser of Chicago; four brothers, Raymond and Myron of Portsmonth, N. H., Cyril of Chicago and Everist; four sisters, Mrs. Gust Waldau of Sheboygan, Mrs. Alfred Kearney of Cambridge, Mass., Mrs. Sigvald Johnson of Chicago; and Mrs. Joseph Pouliot of Walton, Mass.
Eagle-Star - Marinette, Wisconsin - Tuesday, May 9, 1944 - Vol. 53, No. 8. - Front Page 1

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Lt. Grasser is also remembered in the Riverside Cemetery, Peshtigo, Wisconsin.


Gravesite Details Entered the service from Wisconsin.

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  • Maintained by: Allen Grasser
  • Originally Created by: War Graves
  • Added: 8 Aug 2010
  • Find a Grave Memorial 56782634
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for 1Lt Sylvanus Simon George “Paul” Grasser (21 Jul 1913–24 Apr 1944), Find a Grave Memorial no. 56782634, citing Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Manila, Capital District, National Capital Region, Philippines ; Maintained by Allen Grasser (contributor 48273990) .