Florentine killed in WWII found, brought home
Nearly 73 years after his death in the Solomon Islands of the South Pacific Ocean, Sgt. John Charlton Holladay was brought home to rest. A memorial service was held for him at Florence National Cemetery on Monday morning, April 4. Sgt. Holladay served with Company D, 1st Marine Raider Battalion, 1st Marine Raider Regiment during World War II.
He was killed in action on July 20, 1943 while attacking Japanese forces at Bairoko Harbor, New Georgia in the Solomon Islands. He was 31 years old. Holladay received the Purple Heart, posthumously, and is memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Manila, Philippines for his service and sacrifice.
Holladay was one of 22 U.S. servicemen missing as a result of the battle. Several intensive searches were made to recover the bodies and remains of the missing soldiers buried in temporary graves, but bombings had destroyed the battle site to the point the remains were not found. In November of last year, a native of the village of Bairoko found some human remains and with the help of dental records and DNA testing, the remains of Sgt. Holladay were confirmed.
Charlton Holladay was born on April 4, 1912 in Paxville, Clarendon County. While he was young his family moved to Florence where he grew up with his two brothers and sister, James H. Holladay and Daniel H. M. Holladay, and Anna Caroline Holladay. He attended Florence schools and graduated from Florence High School in 1930. After his family was notified of his death, his mother planted an acre of pine trees in Paxville and erected a gravestone to his memory.
Several years ago, the gravestone was later moved to Paxville Cemetery, said his nephew, Charlton Daniel Holladay of Florence. Daniel is one of nine remaining nieces and nephews of the fallen soldier. “We are thrilled he is coming back home,” he commented last week. On Friday morning, Charlton’s remains were flown into the Charleston airport. Stoudenmire-Dowling Funeral Home was there to bring him back to Florence.
Several veteran motorcycle groups, including Rolling Thunder and the Freedom Riders, along with deputies from the Florence County Sheriff’s Department escorted the hearse to the funeral home in Florence. Holladay’s nephews and other family members were there also.
Dan Holladay said he was greatly moved by the respect from motorists and people on the drive home along Highway 52 from Charleston. I-26 was closed in North Charleston as the procession passed, he said. Also, as they rode through Kingstree, all traffic was stopped and people stood beside the road saluting as they passed by. “I have never seen anything like that,” he commented.