Hill 73 is located near the Matanikau River near the north coast of Guadalcanal.
On August 17, 1942 U. S. Marines (USMC) from L Company 3rd battalion 5th Marines (L/3/5) began their combat patrol that became known as "Matanikau One". During the afternoon of the August 18, 1942 they had reached the crossing point on the Matanikau River. It was planned that they would bivouac the night there and cross the river the next day. The executive officer, Lt. George Mead Jr., observed this hill on the other side of the river opposite their planned camp. He became concerned that it could threaten L/3/5’s security if the Japanese were occupying the ridge.
Fording the river and climbing the hill Lt. Mead decided that the Company would bivouac there for the night as the position gave fine tactical views and the long grass provided excellent concealment. At dawn on August 19th the Japanese spotted the Marines and brought mortars and small arms fire onto the position. During this action Sgt John Harold Branic was killed and buried on the hill, the proceeded with their mission keeping to the east of a protecting ridge line out of sight from the Japanese.
This site for the main American memorial on Guadalcanal was chosen because it gave fine views over the northern coast of Guadalcanal. Dedicated
in 1992, and maintained by the ABMC for upkeep done by local villagers.
During the construction of the memorial, the remains of a Marine were found. A memorial marker for the tomb of the unknown soldier plaque was placed at the memorial. The research of John Innes proved this to be Sgt John Harold Branic, later confirmed by DNA tests.
Thanks to John Innes for additional information
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May 22, 2017