Harry J. GALIANO ----- Lewis H. OWENS ----- Gerald M. WILDER ----- Henderson D. HAMMERS Jr.----- Ezra W. DAVIS
AFTER SEARCHING FOR OVER TWO DECADES - THESE MEN HAVE BEEN IDENTIFIED AS:
PhM2c Harry J. GALIANO
PhM2c Lewis H. OWENS
PhM2c Gerald M. WILDER
PhM1c Henderson D. HAMMERS Jr.
ChPhM Ezra W. DAVIS
This photograph was found in a small photograph album that my uncle, PhM2c John Kenneth Hildebrand, possessed in New Zealand, before he left for Tarawa.
On the back of the photo my uncle has written the last names Galiano, Owens, Wilder, Hammers and Davis.
I was never able to make any connection between these five men and my uncle until mid June 2012. At that time I discovered that they had all been associated during medical training in the San Diego area during 1942. At least five of them (probably all six) were assigned to the 2nd Medical Battalion after training and traveled to New Zealand, either together, or at about the same time. About a month after arriving in New Zealand, my uncle was assigned to the 6th Marines and became separated from the rest.
In July 2012 I had several telephone conversations with Mr. Lewis H. Owens, who is the second person from the left in the photograph.
Mr. Owens does not remember this photograph, but is certain that it was taken in Australia. Due to the shoulder patches, jacket types and other information, it is possible to date the photograph. It was taken after Guadalcanal, roughly between January and October of 1943. Mr. Owens said that possessing a private camera at that time was a court-martial offense and he doesn’t remember anyone having one.
He also told me that the men in the photo never returned to New Zealand after Guadalcanal. They had gone to Guadalcanal as part of the 2nd Medical Battalion (it is unclear whether or not they were first transferred to the 1st Marine Division) and had gone straight to Australia after leaving Guadalcanal.
On 27 JAN 1943 they were officially transferred from the 2nd Medical Battalion to the 17th Marines (engineers), 1st Marine Division, shortly after the new regiment was formed in Australia on 12 JAN 1943.
According to Mr. Owens, one person is conspicuously absent from the group of friends in the photograph. He is PhM1c Joe R. Courtney.
The obvious conclusion is that he may have been the one who took the photograph.
(Also - he can be found in the muster roll copy that is available from this page.)
Prior to Guadalcanal, Mr. Owens was in New Zealand and he faintly remembers my Uncle John Kenneth Hildebrand. It seems that he and Kenneth worked together in the 2nd Medical Battalion for a short period of time after arriving in New Zealand. They were soon separated and did not cross paths again. He said that while he was in New Zealand with the 2nd Medical Battalion, he was located at Camp Paekakariki.
We have no idea how my uncle obtained a copy of the photograph before leaving for Tarawa.
It is almost certain that the photograph was taken at Balcombe Camp, Mt. Martha, Victoria, Australia.
This camp was about 40 miles south of Melbourne.
EXCERPT FROM MUSTER ROLL
SEE A COPY OF ONE OF THE MUSTER ROLLS HERE
PLEASE CONTACT ME IF YOU HAVE ANY INFORMATION ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPH OR ANY OF THESE MEN
j i m @ t a r a w a 1 9 4 3 . c o m