Melvin T Eschler
The Montpelier News-Examiner, 1944
PFC. MELVIN T ESCHLER HAS BEEN DECLARED DEAD BY COMMANDANT
Member of Marine Corps Missing Since December 1943
Pfc. Melvin T Eschler, 23, after being carried as missing inaction in the Pacific theater of war since December 1943, was officially declared dead, according to information received by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. A L Eschler of Raymond, from the commandant of the Marine Corps. Pfc. Eschler joined the Marine Corps October 20, 1942. Prior to entering the service he owned and operated a farm near Raymond. He was born in Raymond August 26, 1921 and after completing grade school where he starred as an athlete intrack and football graduating in 1939.
In addition to his parents, he is survived by three brothers, Dean Eschler USNR, stationed in the Pacific theater; Norman Eschler a paratrooper in the European area, and Dennis Eschler living at home. Mr. and Mrs. Eschler received a letter from a buddy of their son, who asked that it not be read until after receiving the telegram from Washington DC. Excerpts from the letter relating circumstances and details of their son's death follow:
"I thought I'd write this story now, so when the day came that I should give it to you, I know it would make your heart as strong as the son you have given. You should and will be proud I know. You have waited patiently and thought many things and I wish I could have told you sooner but that is our life. Mel went to church before going into battle and he went in with a free soul. I know he was free because he was happy and his life was clean. He knew if he should go he had nothing to worry about. You know I was always with Mel and I was up until the last half hour of his life. I didn't know that until our section leader told me what happened. It was on December 9, 1943, that I was wounded and on the same day, we were taking a hill when we were pinned down by Jap machine gun fire. We were to set our machine gun up to pin the Japs down, so our rifle men could advance.
Now you know we were well up in front of everybody and in the thickest of the battle. We got by the first two bursts of their fire and just about reached our position when I was wounded. I had to stay there but Mel and the rest of the squad went ahead. We were constantly under fire, but Mel managed to reach the position and I think he knew his time was up, once he pulled the trigger of his machine gun and gave his position away. He didn't think of himself, but carried out his orders well and Japan paid a good human price. Mel did live long enough to use up more than one belt of ammunition and our section leader said he killed well between 15 and 30 Japs.
He made it possible for the rifle men to advance. He did his job well. Mel raised a lot of hell for them and they knew it, but they made him go happy and he didn't suffer. Being his time I was glad to hear he went that way, rather than suffer as I saw a lot of them do before they went. The bullet that got Mel hit him on the top of his shoulder, a little way from his neck and went through his heart and made death sudden. How he got hit that way was, as I said we were laying down and facing fire. He never knew what happened and I wish when my number is up, I can go the same way. I have said that the ones that don't come back are the lucky ones.
We that come back here only that to look forward again and its not anything worth seeing or enjoyable to see again. The job has been started and only begun and we'll finish and make the price high for the buddies we have lost."
When reported missing in action in the South Pacific Theater of War, Melvin had been in service over 13 months and overseas nearly a year.