MERLE RALPH CORY was in his mid 40’s and working as a civilian cryptanalysis at the OP-20-GZ (Translation and Dissemination Section), the organization responsible for breaking the Japanese cryptic code prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Then Mr. Cory, was the translator who intercepted the encrypted message warning of the Pearl Harbor attack. Following December 7th, he resigned to join the Marine Corps. He was too old for a regular enlistment, but was offered a direct commission as a 2nd Lieutenant to fill the Marine Corps’ crisis shortage of Japanese linguists. Cory was assigned to the S-2 of the Fifth Marines of the 1st Marine Division. He soon found himself aboard ship heading for Guadalcanal on August 7, 1942. On Guadalcanal, Lt Cory interrogated several Japanese prisoners of war, discovering that a large number of Japanese "Marines" and laborers were willing to surrender. Based on this information, LtCol Frank Goettge organized a 25-man patrol, along with Lt Cory, to bring them in. On August 12, The Goettge Patrol deployed to the designated area and was immediately taken under fire from the Japanese. Col Goettge was killed with the first burst of fire, and Lt Cory fell gravely wounded with a bullet in the stomach. The ensuing battle left the entire patrol killed, save three. Cory was listed as missing in action on 13 August 1942, which was changed to Killed in Action (body not recovered) a year later.
Lt Merle Ralph Cory, USMCR is honored with a headstone erected in New Tacoma Cemetery, Tacoma, Washington.
GERALD PRICE HOLTOM was born on January 31, 1915 in Japan, where his parents were Baptist missionaries from 1910 to 1940. Holtom could speak Japanese like a native. The date of Holtom’s entry in the Marine Corps is unknown and subsequently designated the Intelligence Officer and Interpreter/Interrogator for the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, the famous Carlson’s Raiders, under command of LtCol Evans F. Carlson. Captain Holtom was killed on August 17, 1942 in a raid to destroy a seaplane base on Butaritari Island of the Makin Atoll in the Gilbert Islands. In a letter received by his parents, Carlson wrote, "On the morning we landed at Makin, Jerry was with me. We captured a post office and Jerry came to me and said that he intended to examine some Japanese notices which were posted on the bulletin board. I told him that I would be along the road leading to the right flank of our position. The battle was in progress. He was looking for me along this road when a sniper shot him, the bullet passing through his left chest and emerging behind the right shoulder. He lived only ten seconds." The body of Captain Holtom and 18 other Marines were buried on the small coral reef island after the two-day raid. In 1999 these bodies were recovered and identified when searchers found an island resident who, as a young boy, had helped bury the bodies.
On August 17, 2001 Captain Holtom was interred at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.


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