A celebration of life memorial service breakfast for World War II Marine veteran Carlos L. Showalter, who died on July 9 at the age of 94, was held at New Freedom Farm in Buchanan on July 13. Showalter was previously in stage 4 of kidney disease and was on dialysis.
He was involved in the taking of Hill, 382 which was one of the costliest battles on Iwo Jima, losing close to a third of the company in that battle alone.
The celebration will now become an annual event: The Carlos Showalter Memorial Breakfast. Next year it will be held on July 11.
Over 250 veterans and community members attended the breakfast that Mission BBQ of Roanoke provided and drank coffee that the Marine Corps League of Roanoke served.
Those present for the event included Botetourt Commonwealth’s Attorney John Alexander, his son Mason Alexander, who is an active duty Marine stationed in Norfolk, seven of Mason’s fellow Marines, and World War II veterans.
The following is a brief overview of Showalter’s time in the war and life:
Showalter was born on May 22, 1925 in Page County. At the age of 17, he requested permission from his parents to join the U.S. Navy. His mother refused to sign for the Navy because of the damage that U-boats (submarines) were causing to surface ships. However, she did agree to sign for the Marines.
After completing basic training in 1942, Showalter was dispatched with the Marines 4th Division, 23rd Regiment, Company C, which was stationed in Maui, Hawaii.
November 1943 – February 1944: One of the first missions was to take the Marshall Islands and the Japanese air bases that were located there. This was one of the first steps to take control of the Pacific which would have allowed for air and naval support for future battles.
June 1944 – July 1944: Saipan, which is part of the Northern Mariana Islands, was another important strategic location and important victory. After American forces took Saipan, the Japanese prime minister and the entire Japanese war cabinet resigned, marking what many believe to have been the beginning of the end of the war in the Pacific.
July 1944 – August 1944: Tinian, which is also part of the Northern Mariana Islands, was yet another important strategic location for troops and airfields.
February 1945 – March 1945: Iwo Jima, one of the fiercest battles in the Pacific. Of the 238 original men in Company C, only 16 of the 38 that returned to the United States were not casualties; one of which was Showalter. He was involved in the taking of Hill 382 which was one of the costliest battles on Iwo Jima, losing close to one third of the company in that battle alone. The U.S. Air Force dedicated one of its B-29s to the Marines 4th Division. It was estimated that nearly 100 planes per month were saved with the closer airfields captured by the Marines.
After returning home in 1945 as a sergeant, Showalter remained in the Marine Reserves until completing the four-year enlisting requirement.
He later married Jeanne Rosenberger Showalter, had three children, and enjoyed a career selling power equipment while both he and his wife completed mission trips to many different countries.
At age 94, Showalter passed away peacefully on his porch July 9. Until his death he remained an active member of Shenandoah Baptist Church and a frequent visitor to New Freedom Farm, helping many veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and those returning home from combat zones. He also gave speeches and presentations to various groups and organizations about his experiences as a Marine in World War II.