Of all the people in my family who served in World War II, there was only one combat death – my cousin Jack Arnold Gibson. Jack was the eldest son of my Aunt Sophie Danko and her husband Clark Gibson. Jack was also the first grandchild of my grandparents, Michał Dańko and Marianna Dziurzyńska.
The following description of the circumstances of his death are excerpted from Captain Edmund G. Love’s book The 27th Infantry Division in World War II.
The Third Platoon had moved down through this draw an hour before without opposition of any kind. They had found one cave which they grenaded and investigated, but there seemed to be no life in it so they had moved on by without incident. The 2d Platoon, now coming upon this same cave was to run into trouble, however. Pfc. Perry Hill, who as acting as lead scout, came across a Japanese soldier lying just outside the cave mouth. The enemy was playing dead, a fact which Hill discovered by poking him, so the rifleman finished off the actor, “giving a little truth to his lie.” When this happened, however, Hill heard movement inside the cave and decided that it was full of enemy. His called Medina who, in turn, called Sgt. Jack Gibson of the engineers to come down with his flamethrower. Gibson gave the cave opening one short burst and five enemy came running headlong from their hiding place. All were killed. Other Japanese inside the cave immediately opened fire and in the first burst Gibson was mortally wounded and Pfc. Elmer Bottke, Medina’s bazooka man, was killed. Gibson, who had been badly hit, was in great pain and lying almost directly in front of the cave’s mouth. Although Medina could by-pass this cave if he was careful, he felt that he should get the wounded man out of danger. He asked for volunteers, and Pfc. Lathie Simmons and Pfc. Richard King moved forward to try and drag Gibson out of the way. Both men got within a few feet of the engineer, however, and were then spotted and pinned down. After several minutes, Gibson was finally prevailed upon to roll down from in front of the cave. After one or two quick rolls he was far enough for Private First Class Guld to grab him by the feet and drag him out of danger. Guld gave him aid, but he died later.
SOURCE: Love, Edmund G., The 27th Infantry Division in World War II (Washington: Infantry Journal Press, 1949), 512-513.
Jack was born in Albany, New York on 10 November 1923 and died in Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands on 08 July 1944. Despite the reference to him as sergeant in Captain Love’s book, military records list him as a private. He is buried in Section 8, Site 464, Gerald B. H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery, Schuylerville, New York. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Silver Star.