HECTOR DE ZAYAS, LTCOL, USMC

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Hector De Zayas '32

Date of birth: September 7, 1910

Date of death: July 26, 1944

Age: 33

Lucky Bag

From the 1932 Lucky Bag:

Loss

Hector was killed in action with the Japanese on Guam on July 26, 1944. Have been unable to find any details.

His wife was listed as next of kin; she is buried next to him in Arlington National Cemetery. He was also survived by a son.

(Note the Lucky Bag lists Hector as "Jose Hector De Zayas"; he is listed without "Jose" in every other record found.)

Career

From Together We Served:

  • 1933-1935, MARDET USS New Hampshire (BB-25)
  • 1935-1936, 5th Marine Regiment/1st Bn, 5th Marine Regiment (1/5)
  • 1936-1937, US Army Infantry School, Ft. Benning, GA
  • 1937-1939, 5th Marine Division
  • 1939-1941, 5th Marine Regiment/2nd Bn, 5th Marine Regiment (2/5)
  • 1943-1944, 3rd Marine Regiment/2nd Bn, 3rd Marine Regiment (2/3)

He was commanding officer of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion from October 9, 1937 to May 24, 1939 (as a 1LT.)

Wartime Service

Hector was commanding officer of the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines during the Northern Solomon Islands Campaign and the campaign in the Marianas (Guam).

His actions in the Piva Forks Battle, in the Northern Solomons (Bougainville), are the subject of this history.

He is mentioned twice in "Battle History of the United States Marine Corps, 1775–1945" by George B. Clark; he is also mentioned in "The Six Marine Divisions in the Pacific: Every Campaign of World War II", also by George Clark.

Navy Cross

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Colonel Hector DeZayas (MCSN: 0-4763), United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism as Commanding Officer of the Second Battalion, Third Marines, THIRD Marine Division, in the assault on the left flank of the Division Beachhead on Guam, Marianas Islands, from 21 to 26 July 1944. Throughout this vital period of bitter assault fighting, Lieutenant Colonel DeZayas valiantly led his Battalion toward its objective, moving upward over rough and rugged terrain in the face of determined, fierce enemy opposition and maintaining an aggressive and vigorous attack despite one particularly heavy Japanese counterattack which considerably depleted his forces. Arriving at his assigned position and aware that another strong hostile counterattack was imminent, he unhesitatingly proceeded to his front lines to dispose his defenses and encourage his men and, during his courageous tour of inspection, was killed by a Japanese rifleman. Lieutenant Colonel DeZayas' inspiring leadership, dauntless fighting spirit and tenacious devotion to duty under extremely perilous conditions reflect great credit upon himself, his heroic command and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

General Orders: Commander in Chief Pacific Forces: Serial 004236 (January 4, 1945)
Action Date: July 21 - 26, 1944
Service: Marine Corps
Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
Company: Commanding Officer
Battalion: 2d Battalion
Regiment: 3d Marines
Division: 3d Marine Division

Silver Star

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Lieutenant Colonel Hector DeZayas (MCSN: 0-4763), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity as Commanding Officer of the Second Battalion, Third Marines, THIRD Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces during the battle of Piva Forks, Bougainville, Solomon Islands, on November 21, 1943. Ordered to execute a reconnaissance in force of Japanese positions, Lieutenant Colonel de Zayas' battalion was halted during a river crossing by overwhelming fire from Japanese bunker positions concealed in the jungles and swamps. Boldly advancing to the forefront of the battle and finding that his force was opposed by a reinforced hostile position, he vigorously engaged the Japanese with a part of his battalion and by-passes the enemy's position with the remainder. Proceeding with his reconnaissance, he discovered a second Japanese battalion in support of the first and, after determining the hostile scheme of defense and locating the key defensive positions, disengaged his battalion from action with minimum casualties. By his valiant leadership and brilliant tactics, Lieutenant Colonel de Zayas gained valuable information which made possible the destruction of the enemy's fortifications prior to the regimental attack, and his inspiring conduct throughout the operation was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

General Orders: Commander South Pacific: Serial 00314 (January 27, 1944)
Action Date: November 21, 1943
Service: Marine Corps
Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
Company: Commanding Officer
Battalion: 2d Battalion
Regiment: 3d Marines
Division: 3d Marine Division

Spelling of Last Name

Hector's last name appears in many records as both "De Zayas" and "DeZayas" without a space. His grave marker appears to have it without the space, but his wife's has a definite space. There is a space in his listing in Memorial Hall.


Class of 1932

Hector is one of 52 members of the Class of 1932 in Memorial Hall.