Eugene Hewitt Carver, My Purple Heart Hero, by Yvonne Carver Heinrichs





At 10 years old, as I walked home from church the morning of December 7, 1941, my attention was drawn to a newsboy, frantically hawking newspapers on the corner.  In his voice was the sound of urgency, “Pearl Harbor Attacked”, so I bought a paper and hurried the two miles home.  At home the family was already in a flurry since they had already heard the news.  The family was dealing with the scary determination of my 17 year old brother’s intent to immediately enlist in the Marine Corps.  I really didn’t understand the magnitude of what happened at Pearl Harbor that day but instinctively knew it was serious.  The next day, my brother Eugene enlisted in the Marine Corps, along with many of his friends, and was off to the Marine Corps training camp in California.  The Carver family became involved in the “War Effort” in whatever way we could.  My father, William Carver, became our neighborhood ‘Air Raid Warden’, and my mother worked in the Cannery.  As a ‘Camp Fire Girl’, I collected used lard for the ‘War Effort’ from homes miles around ours.  Listening to the radio for war news, and the daily arrival of the mailman hoping for a letter from Eugene, became the important issue of the day.  We quickly became accustomed to ‘Blackouts’ and the various types of shortages.  We happily became used to wearing wooden shoes to compensate for the shortage of leather.


Eugene was in the 1st Marine Division, so when news came of the invasion of Guadalcanal on 6 August 1942, my parents lived in great angst until they were finally notified that their beloved son had been wounded and was in a New Zealand Hospital.  Eventually Eugene was transferred to a southern California military hospital and after a sufficient amount of recovery our hero returned home and we learned more about the invasion.  I learned not to quietly approach Eugene from behind or he would instantly turn around in attack mode.  Eugene had an acute case of ‘Shell Shock’.  Eugene told us he had been among the first of the Marines who had landed on the beach at Guadalcanal where many were injured.  Although he had a severe shrapnel injury to his upper thigh, a fellow Marine had a worse injury, so he helped a medic carry him through the jungle to an aid station.  Although Eugene received a Purple Heart due to his injury he never completely recovered from the ‘Shell Shock’ (now referred to as PTSD) and lived his life as an alcoholic.  Eugene developed diabetes which after a few years required the amputation of his right leg and later his left leg.  Eugene died 25 February 1992 and is buried in the Willamette National Cemetery in Portland, Oregon.


My early memories of my brother are highlighted by the fact that he was the well-known Salem softball pitching champion, he played ball for his Jr. High School, High School and Salem’s Golden Pheasant restaurant.  He participated in boxing matches during the Depression years.  Although Eugene was seven years older than I he was a caring brother, sharing rides with me on his toboggan in the snow, taking me for rides on the handlebars of his bicycle, setting off fireworks for us on the Fourth of July.  To me Eugene was a living symbol of Semper Fi!


Yvonne Carver Heinrichs

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