Official Website of the U.S. Marine Raider Association & Foundation

Select Page

Obituaries > WILLARD, JACK

Marine Lt. Jack W. Willard, 26, who had been captured once and wounded twice in action against the Japanese was killed in action May 23 [1945] on Okinawa

The Navy Department reported his death in a telegram to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. John S. Willard, 7 Moore Avenue.

Lieutenant Willard, a Marine for more than eight years, is believed to have been killed only a few days after recovering from wounds suffered April 16 on Okinawa. He had recuperated in the Marianas.

It was last February that he was married to the former Ruth Kane of Oakland, Cal., a lieutenant in the Navy Nurse Corps, in a ceremony performed at Guadalcanal.

She had cared for him at New Zealand when he suffered malaria after the New Georgia campaign.

Lieutenant Willard’s wife, now en route to this country, has not yet been informed of his death.

A graduate of Green Central School, Lieutenant Willard entered the Marine Corps Dec. 6, 1936. He subsequently was stationed at Shanghai, China, for three years.

It was at Shanghai that he had his first encounter with the Japanese—a fist fight that resulted when Jap soldiers attempted to force their way into the International Settlement.

The Japs lost the fight.

Lieutenant Willard returned to this country in 1940. In 1942 he was assigned to the Fourth Marine Raider Battalion under Lt. Col. James Roosevelt, son of the late President Roosevelt.

In a recommendation for promotion, Colonel Roosevelt cited the Binghamton Marine for his ability to read, write and speak the Japanese language and his “general knowledge of the Japanese race,” acquired when he attended a university at Shanghai.

Lieutenant Willard then was a platoon sergeant, but he was commissioned shortly before being assigned to the South Pacific in February, 1943.

During the New Georgia campaign Lieutenant Willard and another Marine were bathing in a stream one day when they were surprised by a Japanese soldier who took them captive. The subsequently managed to escape, however, by swimming under water.

It was on New Georgia that Lieutenant Willard received his first wound. He was injured by the explosion of an enemy mortar shell.

He was wounded on Okinawa last April 16 when a Japanese grenade exploded near him.

Surviving besides his parents are two brothers, Darwin, at home, and CSM Robert Willard of the Coast Guard, now stationed in New York City after serving in the Pacific for 23 months.