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Obituary

John Seymour, C123rd's Property Sergeant and Historian, is responsible for most of the information on this website. John passed away on November 20, 2008, 2 years ago. He is missed by many C123rd survivors and his documentation of “C” Company’s service in the WWII Pacific Theater will benefit scholars researching the history f the 4th Division.

Here is the article from the December 2010 issue of Close Ranks which can be found under Newsletters.

We, the few remaining, old boys, who, as youths volunteered and vowed to pay back to Japan in kind for their treacherous bombing of our ships, harbor facilities, barracks, Navy and Marines personnel and civilians of Pearl Harbor on that long ago, Sunday morning, December 7th, 1941.

We, John and I, were born in 1924 and were in our last year of high school when WWII erupted. John, me and many others answered our country’s call to arms. We were ready to enlist but were deferred initially, to enable us to finish our schooling. John remained at school to graduate and immediately thereafter hitchhiked to Los Angeles, California where he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on December 30, 1941.

After completion of our first tour of duty we both ended up at Camp Pendleton during the formation of the Fourth Marine Division. It was August 1943 and we ended up in the same rifle company, C Company, First Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment of the Fourth Marine Division. From our meeting at Pendleton, John’s combat training and travel assignments would be similar to mine until I was wounded on Tinian and removed from C123rd for the next 5 months. Then John remained with the company and prepared for the invasion of Iwo Jima.

The Close Ranks staff was discussing ideas on how best to address the memory of John Seymour and here is what we arrived at. We have interviewed John’s daughter Joline Seymour Doersam (Publisher of Close Ranks).

Sherrie: “Joline, tell us about your dad’s early life and what he did after the war.”

Joline: “Dad (John) was born April 13, 1924. He entered the service at 17. (My grandmother signed for him.) His father had died of spinal meningitis likely contracted in WWI, when John was just 3. It left his mother with 3 boys, whom she raised alone. As a child John was known for making friends with people from all walks of life, rich or poor, local or stranger. My grandmother came home one day to find her small son serving coffee to the garbage man in the kitchen.

The 3 brothers each entered a different branch of the service; his younger brother David chose the Navy, his older brother Charles, the Army. He married and raised 7 children (I'm #4) and had various career jobs, but his favorite avocation was playing Santa. His first gig was at 17, and he continued for family, friends and strangers into his late 70s - at least 65 years of playing Santa. For hobbies he collected stamps, rare woods, antique jigsaw puzzles, and vintage paperbacks. In the 1960s he sold his stamp collection to have the funds to take his children on an 18 day trip across the country, visiting most of the National parks. At age 54 he decided he loved to climb mountains, and from that he hiked the entire Appalachian Trail two and half times. In his later years he loved doing research for his WWII friends, and did that for as long as he could. John passed away on Nov. 20, 2008.”

Sherrie: "Joline, you have done a superb job of publishing this newsletter. As you know this issue commemorates the second anniversary of sharing news and current activities between aged but proud Marines who once wore 314 in a half moon on their green dungarees and who probably haven't seen one another for several years. You must have wonderful memories to share. How early in your life did you realize your Dad was a proud Marine who served with the 4th Marine Division in the WWII Pacific campaigns to free inhabitants of several islands suppressed by the Empire of Japan many years before you were born?"

Joline: “I was a little girl of about 5 or 6, sitting on Dad's lap and admiring his big Marine emblem tattoo on his arm. I asked him to "tell me about the war." He would always respond, "That's not for a young girl's ears." It was only when I was 18 that he told me his story of Moses Iadanza. I think it was partly because my older brother (John Jr.) was then fighting in Viet Nam and it stirred his memories up a bit. Then much later when he made his connections with C-1-23 sometime before your 50th anniversary, more of the stories came out, and he asked me to type them for him. I was honored to be able to help. By the way, he found out about the 4th MarDiv reunions when he was collecting vintage paperback books! One of the trade magazines he was reading had a little ad or article in it. He immediately responded to the ad and was connected to Russ and Rowland. He was thrilled to have reconnected with the men of C-1-23.”

Sherrie: "Working together during the last 2 years has been a delight for the 3 of us to get to know one another and our backgrounds. We know that you assisted your Dad in compiling much of the history he has documented and that is recorded on C123rd.com. Would you like to explain for C123rd members what that assistance consisted of; how the research was initiated and carried on to complete it and how long it took?"

Joline: “At first it was a request through Dad from Russ Gross to type up his newsletter for him, and Russ did the mailing after I sent him back the typed version. Then Russ turned its editorship over to Rowland. Rowland was doing all the mailing at first, but asked me to take over that part. He would send me all the supplies and often paid for everything.

Then, since Rowland was a computer man and knew that I knew computers, he and Dad asked me to help them to compile the history by entering the data that Dad had scrupulously gleaned from muster rolls into a database. As folks sent their memories on to Dad or Rowland, they would send them to me to type and they told me which chapter or place they wanted it put into. I would electronically send the typed material to Rowland to insert into the website.

The muster roll gathering took over 15 years of sending for each, one by one, and dealing with the typical government delays. As Dad received each one, he would pore over it and pull out all the data associated with anyone in C-1-23. He then handwrote all the minute details into a spreadsheet that formed the basis for the database. It took him many years to do all this. We used these muster rolls often to verify claims and validate or answer questions. As questions came up, he, Rowland and Russ would discuss them until they found the best answer. Rowland would answer the questions that came to the website. There came a point where they had most of what they really needed for the C-1-23 men, so they told me to stop the database work. Later, Dad turned the musters over to me when he could no longer do the research. I have since given them to Merrill Quick's cousin Sherrie to complete the work that Dad and Rowland started, and I must say she is doing a stellar job!”

Sherrie: "This gigantic project had to bring together other members of C123rd for coordinating dates, individuals and overall national events. Who were some of your Dad's associates and how did they fit into the company's individual history?"

Joline: “You must read the history on the website to see how they fit. But, Dad was of the original group that formed C-1-23 and fought in all four of the campaigns of Tinian, Roi Namur, Saipan and Iwo Jima. He became a supply sergeant and since Rowland was a sergeant they moved in somewhat the same circles until Rowland was sent away because of wounds. Since they fought in all those battles they came to know quite a few of the men. The names Dad would often speak of were Russ Gross, James Jeffers, Don Latsch, Henry Hastings, "Champ" McDaniel, Ed Rajkowski, and Gordon Kraft. I had the honor of meeting all of these lovely men before they passed away. There were many more of his friends, especially all of you who still read this letter, but I wanted to remember these gentlemen first. Dad came away from the four battles with, in his words, "no wounds to speak of." But I think you all know there are emotional wounds of war that you carry with you through life. The first of you whom I met was Sgt. Kraft, at the 1995? reunion in St. Louis. He was there with his daughter, Jo Reynolds. She and I formed a bond as daughters of a Marine that we keep even today. We have found in common our fathers' bond that is unlike any other, that of being in the 4th Marine Division of WWII. Each reunion was a rare and exciting opportunity to hear the true stories of your experiences; that for many of you, including Dad, were never spoken about until you were together again and could relate to them. In the last days Dad's tattoo had faded to a brown blur. But thanks to all of you sharing your stories, and the willingness of Dad, Rowland, Russ, and Orvel to continue this association and honor its contributions, the memories will never fade.“