Details of the deaths of the Selby brothers have come to their mother, Mrs. Leta Selby, of 211 McKee Street, in the form of letters from officers and buddies alike, within the last few days, but the following are the most complete. Both boys died in the South Seas.
Dear Mrs. Selby,
Your son, Bob, probably had more buddies in the outfit than anyone. It’s awful hard on us and we know it’s a lot harder on you.
Bob was a machine gunner ever since the Fourth Raiders were formed. He was one of the best Marines anyone would like to fight along side of.
The actions that Bob participated in while in the Raiders were: Viru Harbor and Bairoko on New Georgia Island. Then we formed the Fourth Marines and hit Emirau in the St. Matthias group. Then on to Guam in the Marianas.
We don’t think that Bob ever mentioned it to you, but he received the Purple Heart Medal for wounds received in the battle of Bairoko, on July 20, 1943. We asked him why he didn’t send it home and he said he didn’t want to worry his Mother over a little thing like that.
Bob was killed on [July 27, 1944], as we were taking a strategic position on Guam—Orote Peninsula. Bob died instantly as a Jap machine gun opened up on our flank. We can assure you Bob’s death was not in vain, because he drew all of the Jap fire, therefore saving at least five of his machine gunners. Bob was in charge of the machine gun squad at that time. Almost simultaneously one of our machine guns opened up and wiped out the Jap machine gun nest and the eight Japs that fired upon Bob.
The chaplain, Rev. McCorkle, was up on the front line within the hour and had Bob taken away and buried in the Brigade cemetery on the slopes of Mount Alifan, overlooking Orote Peninsula and the sea. He was given a military funeral with a 12 rifle salute. Most of the machine gunners were there, and it was a very impressive ceremony.
Mrs. Selby, that’s about all we can think of to say as to Bob’s death and the actions he participated in. The company as a whole wants to extend their deepest sympathy. We know there is nothing we can say to lighten your burden, but Bob died like a true Marine, and that in our opinion is a man among men.
Sgt. Henry A. Bauer
Gy. Sgt. John P. McGinty
Pfc. R. O. Campbell
Cpl. Roy P. Grenier
Pfc. H. C. Martin
Pfc. J. S. Flanagan
Cpl. W. J. Van Velzen
Ralph and Robert Selby were born in Sturgis on Sept. 22, 1921 and Jan. 28, 1923, respectively. They attended Jerolene Street School until they were seven and eight-years-old. They, with their mother, moved to Burr Oak where the boys both graduated from high school, Ralph with the class of 1939 and Bob with the class of 1940. At the time of their enlistments in the United States Marine Corps, Ralph was a senior at Western Michigan Teachers College in Kalamazoo, majoring in physical education, and Bob was a sophomore at Michigan State College, East Lansing, majoring in conservation.
Their father, Ralph W. Selby, Sr., preceded them in death on Dec. 19, 1928. He served in World War I and was a member of the famous 32nd (Red Arrow) Division.