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S/Sgt. Maynard M. Reese Biography-3

Maynard & Mary Jo: A Tragic Love Story

Maynard & Mary Jo: Young Lovers

Maynard Reese and Mary Jo Matarrese grew up in Fair Lawn, NJ - a small, tightly-knit community of about 10,000 near New York City.  Maynard graduated from vocational high school in 1940, and began helping his father in the construction business. 

Maynard enlisted in the Army Air Corps on May 12, 1942. Maynard and Mary Jo were married in the late summer before Maynard was sent to Air Apaches training at the Columbia SC Air Base in the Fall of 1942. 

On Feb 2, 1943 -- while Maynard was home on leave -- Mary presented him with an Accro brand wristwatch, engraved

M . J. R ~ To ~ M. M.  R. ~ 2. 2. 43 ~ 12078267”. 

Acquiring Maynard's Accro Watch 80 Years Later​

I purchased Maynard's watch from an eBay seller in August 2022 for $40. It was obviously well-worn; the lugs were badly corroded and the watch case was very dirty and heavily stained. This was not a "jewelry box queen"; Maynard obviously wore it constantly as a treasured reminder of Mary Jo.​

An unsolvable mystery? How did Maynard's watch turn up for sale on eBay 80 years after his death?​  Was Maynard wearing his bride’s gift on his last mission? Did tribesmen discover Maynard’s body, remove his watch, and return it to an Australian reconnaissance patrol? Or did Maynard not wear his watch on that day – and it was eventually returned to Mary Jo by the Army? 

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Book no.1

Pvt. Paul R. Thomer Biography-1

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Paul Thomer's Watch Returned to His Family - Sept 2023

On Sept 9, 2023, Pvt. Thomer’s watch was returned to his daughter Deborah and her four siblings, exactly 80 years after Paul purchased it. They will treasure it as a tangible memory of their courageous Dad. Semper Fi.

Pvt. Paul Thomer -- 1942 Guadalcanal Marine & His Watch

Private Paul R. Thomer (1923–1992) fought at Guadalcanal as a member of the famed 1st Marine Division. Paul was from Pittsburgh PA, and enlisted in the Marines in January 1942.

The 1st Marine Division sailed from San Francisco in June, and landed on the island of Guadalcanal on Aug 7, 1942. This was the first major US amphibious landing of World War II. The invasion ignited a ferocious struggle with Japanese forces, marked by seven major naval battles, numerous clashes ashore, and almost continuous air combat through December 1942.

The fighting at Guadalcanal took a terrible toll; the 1st Division suffered 650 killed in action and 1,278 wounded, with a further 8,580 contracting malaria and other diseases. As one Marine recalled, ”the Division suffered 100% casualties, with the dead, wounded, and those sick from malaria, dengue fever, jungle rot, malnutrition and combat fatigue… “.

Battle-weary and in poor health following the Guadalcanal campaign, the men of the First Marine Division were shipped to Melbourne Australia for nine months recuperation in January 1943. “They were greeted with warm hospitality; these 15,000 young American men found a home away from home”.

On Feb 10, 1943, Paul Thome  purchased a steel-cased wristwatch from a local Melbourne jewelry store, and had it engraved “Paul R. Thomer ~ U.S.M.C. ~ 343824 ~ Australia ~ 2-10-43”.

The 1st Division returned to  combat in the South Pacific in October 1943, leading the December offensive at Cape Gloucester, New Britain. “The action they found there has been described as the toughest man has ever endured.” In July 1944, the 1st Division returned to the US for stateside duty. Paul was honorably discharged in 1945.

In 1954, Paul married Frances Mary LaRoche in Pittsburgh; in 1962, they moved to California. Paul and Frances had five children – two sons and three daughters.  Paul died on February 16, 1992, and is buried with Frances in the San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Mission Hills, CA.

Book no.1
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