While many of Ohio’s fallen heroes rest in cemeteries in their home state, many others never returned home. When Uhrichsville’s Melvin Lauver (1915-1943) entered the United States Army in 1942, he and his family never anticipated that he would be memorialized 4000 miles from his hometown.
When Melvin Lauver was born in Uhrichsville in 1915, the twin cities of Uhrichsville and Dennison were bustling. Melvin’s father, Benjamin Lauver (1879-1960) worked in the Dennison Railroad Shops as a Car Builder and, later on, in a local clayworks. Elizabeth (1879-1952), Melvin’s mother, had her hands full taking care of the eight children in the Lauver household.
Melvin and his brothers would attend school in Uhrichsville and work in the railroad shop and clayworks with their father as they got older. Melvin attended school in Uhrichsville and graduated from Uhrichsville High School in 1935. He was an active and athletic student during his tenure there, playing football and baseball, as well as taking part in the school’s Biology Club. The family was living on Deersville Avenue in Uhrichsville at the time.
The family had moved to Parrish Street, Uhrichsville by the spring of 1940 and Melvin, still living at home, was working for the Robinson Sewer Pipe Company in Uhrichsville. As American involvement in World War Two began to seem more and more likely, the United States approved the first peacetime draft in its history in the fall of 1940. Melvin would subsequently register for the draft in October 1940. Shortly after his draft registration Melvin married Anita Jean Fisher (1919-1998) of Dennison, Ohio in November 1940.
During the two years between his draft registration and his entry into the service in the fall of 1942, Melvin began working at the Gambrinus Plant of the Timken Roller Bearing Company of Canton, Ohio. The newlywed couple relocated to New Philadelphia during the period as well.
Melvin’s army service began in September 1942. Following basic training, and perhaps because of his mechanical experience, he was assigned to the 410th Ordnance Medium Maintenance Company. Medium Maintenance companies were support units responsible for the more difficult maintenance tasks, such as replacing a vehicle’s engine, transmission or differential, or recharging or replacing the recoil mechanism on artillery pieces.
The 410th was assigned to be a part of the forces taking part in Operation Cartwheel, designed to wrest several South Pacific Islands from occupying Japanese forces, most importantly the island of Rabaul. The spring and summer of 1943 found the 410th taking part in a number of smaller operations in support of Operation Cartwheel. American troops and their allies were very active throughout the Solomon Sea region by August 1943.
Corporal Melvin Lauver found himself onboard a Navy support vessel in August 1943, maintaining equipment and artillery pieces destined for continued service in the ongoing campaign. Melvin, on 20 August, suffered an injury onboard that caused a severe hemorrhage. The actual cause of the hemorrhage is unknown but the injury proved fatal. Corporal Melvin W. Lauver was buried at sea with full military honors on 21 August 1943.
Anita Jean Lauver received a telegram from the War Department on Saturday, 11 September 1943, notifying her of the death of her husband and his burial at sea. A letter followed later that may have included details on the injury Melvin suffered. Melvin W. Lauver is memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.
© Noel B. Poirier, 2021.