Joe Compton’s Supreme Sacrifice
By Reno Bailey
The Punchbowl National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, overlooking Honolulu, Hawaii, now contains the remains of over 49,000 casualties of World War II, the Korean conflict and the Vietnam war. When WWII ended, the bodies of many of the fallen men and women were removed from their temporary graves over the vast expanse of the Pacific theater, and re-interred on Oahu.
One of the those at Punchbowl is Cliffside’s Joe Compton. He died on December 26, 1942, as his B-24 Liberator, of which he was copilot, crashed on takeoff from an airdrome at Iron Range, Queensland, Australia, for a bombing run on Rabaul, New Guinea.
Three months later the bodies of the nine-man crew were taken to a small U.S. Military Cemetery at Townsville, Queensland. In 1946 the Townsville cemetery was closed, and the occupants of its 390 graves were exhumed and sent home to their families, or, if relatives preferred, moved to the Punchbowl.
Joe, graduate of Cliffside High’s class of 1938, was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Grover Compton. His twin brother John also served in the war. He returned safely.
Researched by Paula Cargill.
This article originally appeared in the Fall 2009 Cliffside Chimes.