MILITARY SERVICE OVERVIEW
He had enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. Served during World War II. Drewes had the rank of Major. Service number assignment was 0006503.
During his service in World War II, Marine Corps Major Drewes was reported missing and ultimately declared dead on November 20, 1943. Recorded circumstances attributed to: Missing in action or lost at sea.
Combat Action Ribbon
World War II Victory Medal
American Campaign Medal
Marine Corps Presidential Unit Citation
Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal
Please note this may not be a complete list of commendations and is based on research of available service records.
Henry C. Drewes was born on 12 Oct 1899, Jersey City, Hudson County, New Jersey, USA.A resident of Lake Parsippany with wife Elizabeth V. Drewes and son Albert John Drewes. Census 1940.
He had enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1936 and served during World War II and had the rank of Major.
"Capt. Henry C. Drewes, commander of Company A, Second Amphibian Tractor Battalion, loves excitement and expects to get plenty of it as skipper of an outfit which will accompany landing forces of Marines." Credit - Tribune Sun photo by Bob White
First Row (L to R):
CPT. (DR.) Stanbery, CPT. Smithwick, CPT. Lawrence (took command after Maj. Drewes was killed), MAJ. Henry C. Drewes, Commander (KIA), CPT. Fenlon A. Durand, CPT. Royster (KIA)
LT. Ronck, LT. Nygren, LT. Handyside, LT. Seigel, LT. Eckart, LT. Perry
LT. Yousch, LT. Little, LT. Tenny, LT. Housman, LT. Musgrave, Master Gunnery Sergeant King, LT. Norman C Ward
Awarded the Silver Star on November 20, 1943:
The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Major Henry C. Drewes (MCSN: 0-6503), United States Marine Corps Reserve, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity as Commanding Officer, Second Amphibian Tractor Battalion, SECOND Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Tarawa, Gilbert Islands, November 20, 1943. Constantly subjected to a devastating barrage of enemy machine-gun and mortar fire, Major Drewes controlled landing operations and disposition of tractors, and successfully disembarked assault troops on designated beaches. Steadfastly remaining in an area which was under heavy hostile shellfire, he continued to direct operations, personally using his command tractor to evacuate casualties and ferry additional troops until he himself was mortally wounded. Major Drewes' grim determination, brilliant leadership and daring aggressiveness contributed immeasurably to the success of our operations in that area and reflect great credit upon himself, his command and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
Last Known Activity
"For Wave One, the final 200 yards to the beach were the roughest, especially for those LVTs approaching Red Beaches One and Two. The vehicles were hammered by well-aimed fire from heavy and light machine guns and 40mm antiboat guns. The Marines fired back, expending 10,000 rounds from the .50-caliber machine guns mounted forward on each LVT-1. But the exposed gunners were easy targets, and dozens were cut down. Major Drewes, the LVT battalion commander who had worked so hard with Shoup to make this assault possible, took over one machine gun from a fallen crewman and was immediately killed by a bullet through the brain. Captain Fenlon A. Durand, one of Drewes' company commanders, saw a Japanese officer standing defiantly on the sea wall waving a pistol, "just daring us to come ashore."
Honolulu Memorial, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Henry C Drewes is buried or memorialized at Tablets of the Missing at Honolulu Memorial, Honolulu, Hawaii. This is an American Battle Monuments Commission location.
The Honolulu Memorial is located within the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in an extinct volcano near the center of Honolulu, Hawaii.
On either side of the grand stairs leading to the memorial are eight courts of the missing on which are inscribed the names of the 18,095 American World War II missing from the Pacific, excluding those from the southwest Pacific, and 8,210 American missing from the Korean War. These names were listed on the Korean War Courts of the Missing at the time of the dedication in 1966. Two half courts have been added at the foot of the staircase that contain the names of 2,504 Americans missing from the Vietnam War. At the top of the stairs is a chapel flanked by galleries containing mosaic maps and descriptions of the achievements of the American armed forces in the central and south Pacific regions and in Korea.
The memorial was established by ABMC to honor the sacrifices and achievements of American armed forces in the Pacific during World War II and the Korean War. The memorial grew in 1980 to include the missing of the Vietnam War, and it expanded further in 2012 with the addition of two new pavilions. One pavilion houses an orientation map of the memorial and the other includes two mosaic battle maps depicting the Vietnam War.
Camp Henry C. Drewes - Hapuna Beach State Park, Hawaii.
Hapuna Beach is one of the most popular beaches on the island today but it was once the site of amphibious training for the Marines’ Pacific Island campaigns. Camp Henry Drewes, the camp of the 2nd Amtrac Battalion was at the beach and where the Hapuna Prince Hotel is now located. The camp was named for Major Drewes, the commanding officer of the 2nd Amtrac Battalion, who died on November 20, 1943 of wounds received in the battle of Tarawa. There is a marker for the camp at the west end of the beach parking lot which is shown below.
The second AM Trac BN., U.S. Marines established Camp Henry C. Drewes on this site; here trained until May, 1944
Seal at center: 2nd AM TRAC BN ★ WWII ★ Guadalcanal ★Tarawa ★ Saipan ★ Tinian ★ Okinawa
Here we rested from battle... Prepared
for another... And prayed for peace.
2nd AM Trac BN., WWII Assn.,
'The Alligator Marines'
Marker Location: 19° 59.466′ N, 155° 49.47′ W. Marker is in Waimea, Hawaii, in Kauai County.View on Google Map.
Related: Landing Vehicle Tracked -- Wikipedia. Originally intended solely as cargo carriers for ship to shore operations, they evolved into assault troop and fire support vehicles. The types were known as amphtrack, "Amtrak", "amtrac", etc. (portmanteaus of "amphibious tractor"), and "Alligator" or "Gator".
Drewes Beach - Lake Parsippany, New Jersey
The beach named in honor of Henry C. Drewes was known as Beach #1 in the 1930’s to 1940’s. The beach was dedicated shortly after WWII and is the largest beach at Lake Parsippany. It is often used for large LPPOA Events and is home to the Swim Team, Volleyball Team and Horseshoe Team.
I had the pleasure of talking to Katie Presser, Henry’s Granddaughter. Her father Albert did not speak much of her grandfather, but she knew that there was a beach named after him in Parsippany, NJ. Both father and son served during WWII at the same time and where able to meet in 1943 shortly before Henry was sent off to Tarawa. Katie mentioned that she would like to visit Drewes Beach one day, along with her brother Henry who shares the same name and sent me this picture.