The 35th Infantry Regiment Association salutes our fallen brother, PVT John J. Toth, who died in the service of his country on January 11th, 1943 in Guadalcanal. The cause of death was listed as KIA. At the time of his death John was 22 years of age. He was from Coatesville, Pennsylvania.
The decorations earned by PVT John J. Toth include: the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Asiatic-Pacific Service Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.
After the war Johns remains were disinterred from a cemetery on Guadalcanal and reburied at Saint Cecilia Cemetery, Coatsville, PA
(From Chester County, PA Hall of Heroes)
John J Toth was born on December 19, 1913 to John and Elizabeth who lived in Swedeland (Near Norristown) Pennsylvania. His family moved to 239 East Valley Road in Coatesville when John was young; then later moved to 159 Strode Avenue. His father was a steel worker. John was one of seven children: John, Michael, Andrew, George, Mary, Stephen, and Frank.
John attended Coatesville schools and later obtained employment at a silk mill; and then at Lukens Steel as a grinder. Two of his younger brothers worked there also. The family attended St. Josephs Church in West Coatesville on Charles Street. His brother Frank remembers John giving him a quarter to go the afternoon movie nearly every Saturday.
Both John and his brother Michael joined the Army on March 2, 1942. They were trained for three months at Camp Wheeler, Georgia before being shipped to the Hawaiian Islands. John was assigned to Company F of the 35th Regiment, 25th Division. The division then underwent intensive Jungle Warfare training in Hawaii. The 25th Division was then sent to Guadalcanal to reinforce the 1st Marine Division as part of the XIV Corps.
The unit began combat on January 7th, 1943.Private John J Toth was killed in enemy action on January 11, 1943. He was buried in a military complex on Guadalcanal. Michael wrote the news to his sister Mary dated February 3rd. On February 24th, the family received the telegram from the Government that John had been killed.
Colonel Robert McClure, the Commander of the 35th Infantry, wrote a letter to the family received in April 1943. In it he says:
"Your son was killed in brave performance of duty against the enemy. I assure you that you can be proud in the knowledge that his actions were willing, loyal, and courageous in making the noblest sacrifice a man can give; his life for his country. Only in a small way can this letter ease your sorrow. You can be certain, however, that your grief is shared by those of us who lived and worked and fought with your son as fellow soldiers. This pledge we make to you; we shall do our best to make certain that his sacrifice was not in vain."
In the continual raging battles, the military did not have the luxury to create a permanent military cemetery and soldiers were buried in secure areas in hastily marked graves. The grave for John was discovered by his brother Michael while serving on Guadalcanal in July 1943.
John was returned home for final burial, arriving by government hearse from Philadelphia on March 8, 1948. The funeral service was held at the Archie S Maclean funeral home; with Solemn High Requiem Mass at St Joseph Church in Coatesville. Some 40 members of military organizations participated, many standing guard during the services. Full military honors were rendered by the Sahler-Sedan VFW Post, internment was at the St. Cecila Cemetery.
The city of Coatesville named a street after John: Toth Avenue in the Brandywine Homes development, paralleling Fox Avenue and Johnson Street near the Coatesville Cash High School.
All his brothers also served during the war: Mike, Andy, George, Steve, and Frank.