In Memory of
U.S. Marine Corps Private First Class Willow Lake, South Dakota
Clark County

May 20, 1931- July 20, 1953
Missing in Action, Presumed Dead in Korea

    

On the right is the 5th Marine Chapel named in memory of Captain Walz.


James David Sutton Whittemore was born in Watertown, South Dakota on May 20, 1931, to Mr. Clifford Neal Whittemore and Mrs. Doloris Sutton Whittemore. James had two sisters and a brother, Clifford, Jr. From 1943 to 1948, James went school in Stillwater, Minnesota but returned to live with his parents in Willow Lake in 1948 and remained there until he entered the service.

James David Sutton Whittemore enlisted into the U.S Marine Corps on February 26, 1952. James went through basic training in San Diego, California. James was a part of the Company I, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division. James got some leave time in March before he was sent to Korea on April 11, 1953. His parents received a letter written from James on July 13, 1953, telling them that he would be fighting on the front lines on Berlin Hill, Korea.

Private First Class James David Sutton Whittemore was reported missing in action as of July 19, 1953, but it was later changed to killed in action on July 20, 1953. Pfc. Whittemore’s group of Marines “was overrun by the Communists and from which only a few returned to their own lines.” Later information coming from Navy Headquarters, United States Marine Corps was more specific:

It has been learned that James was killed by enemy fire while he was assisting in the defense of outpost ‘Berlin Hill.’ …the enemy initiated an intense mortar and artillery barrage on the position at about 10 p.m. on July 19, 1953. The intensity of the barrage caused sections of the trench line, bunkers, and fighting positions to cave in, and the Marines defending the positions were separated into small groups. Under cover of their own fire a large force of enemy moved up toward the outpost from several directions. Although all available fire power on outpost ‘Berlin Hill’ was concentrated upon the enemy they penetrated the forward part of the outpost and occupied a position at the top of the hill. The enemy then reinforced their position and moved down the hill. Intense close combat followed and the Communists overran the positions. No one returned to the main line of resistance with the exception of a small group that returned early the next morning.

Although Pfc. Whittemore’s body was never recovered, a memorial headstone was placed at the Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis, South Dakota.

This entry was respectfully submitted by Chantelle Rae Janke, 8th grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota on July 17, 2004. The Clark County Courier, July 30, 1953, and October 22, 1953, issues, and the ABMC provided information for this entry. Memorial stone photo by Mrs. Hansen. No family contact made.