The 35th Infantry Regiment Association salutes our fallen brother, CPT Howard W. Vierra, who died in the service of his country on January 15th, 1943 in Guadalcanal. The cause of death was listed as Accidental Shooting. At the time of his death Howard was 34 years of age. He was from Hawaii.
The decorations earned by CPT Howard W. Vierra include: the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Bronze Star, the Asiatic-Pacific Service Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.
Note: Entered the service from Hawaii.
National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
16 January 1943
Subject: Report of Accident
To: CO 2nd Bn
1) At about 2145 of the 15th of January I was on duty with the mortar platoon of H Co of the 35th Inf when I was called to the phone connecting the mortar position to the Company command post and T/5 Woodside who was on the sound-powered phone at the C.P. said something was wrong over here, we need reinforcements, we have shot someone. We need help.
At about the same time, one of the mortar platoon on guard threw a hand grenade from position #2. I sent Cpl Crum and three men to report to the C.P. and then went to position #2 to investigate the grenade activity. I was talking to the platoon Sgt at position #2 when Cpl O'Connor called me back to the Mortar C.P. and Lt(?) Edingfield who I had awakened on my way to the Mortar position told me that Cpl Crum wanted me over at the Co C.P. and that something terrible had happened.
I took O'Connor with me and when I arrived, Cpl Crum told me that Capt. Howard W. Vierra had been accidentally shot by one of the interior guard of the C.P. , PFC Robert Gerlach 37144328.
Crum also said that the Medical Aid Man attached to H Company PFC Earl B. Shiflett, had attempted to administer first aid but that he was dead. I went to the body and found it in the position as indicated; shot twice, once through the heart and once through the head on the left side. I felt the pulse and listened for any breathing but there was no indication of either.
I called Cpl O'Connor and we further examined the body. I then questioned Cpl Crum and Gerlach concerning the shooting the testimony of which appears attached.
I then moved the C.P personnel, nine men and guns, ammunitions and rations to the mortar platoon area, approximately 200 yards away and reported the incident to Rear Echelon as communications were faulty with Bn at the time.
Lt Col Dalton gave orders that I would keep the C.P. personnel at the mortar position and report in the morning.
Frank Y. Boyle
1st Lt Div Rcn
Attached to H Co
Statement from PFC Robert W Gerlach
16 January 1943
Testimony of PFC Gerlach concerning accidental shooting at H Company.
At about 2145 I was on duty as a guard and I heard something rattling? In the bushes and I looked in that direction and I saw a man coming with a rifle pointing toward us. I hollered "Halt" He straightened up and kept coming . Then I fired four? shots at the object. The body fell about 8 to 10 feet from me and I identified the Captain by his dog tags.
35th Inf Co. H
Statement of Robert R Woodside Jr.
Testimony of T/5 Robert R. Woodside jr. Concerning Accident in H Company
At about 2145 on the evening of the 16th of January 1943 I was sleeping in the C.P. tent of H Company when PFC Gerlach whispered to me that there was something in the bushes. I raised up from where I was laying and saw this man coming out of the bushes as indicated on the map.
PFC Gerlach hollered "Halt" and the man kept on coming and Gerlach fired one? And the man stumbled and he got up and started for the tent and Gerlach fired three more shots at him.
I called the mortar platoon C.P. on the hill and told them to send help. Gerlach had then identified the body.
Robert R. Woodside Jr
T/5 Co H 35th Inf