USMC Visor Cap owned by William Tredwell Ketcham
This is a World War II (1939-1945) United States Marine Corps (USMC) visor hat that belonged to Captain William Tredwell Ketcham, Jr. The visor hat features the USMC metal eagle, globe, and anchor emblem in bronze on the front. The visor hat body is made of forest green wool with a khaki-green quatrefoil on the top. The hat band is green mohair. Beneath the hat band is a brown chinstrap and black visor made of plain leather. On each side are buttons bearing the Marine insignia of an eagle perched on a fouled anchor under thirteen stars. To date this is the oldest insignia still worn in the United States military.1 The hat was manufactured by Hilborn-Hamburger Inc. out of New York. Captain Tredwell’s name is typed on a paper slip inserted into the sweat protector on the interior of the cap and identifies his rank as lieutenant, dating this hat to his service during World War II in the Pacific Theater.
William Tredwell “Treddy” Ketcham Jr. (1919-2006)
William Tredwell Ketcham Jr. was born in Lawrence, New York, on August 2, 1919, to William and Jean Ketcham. Growing up he attended the Lawrence School, the Hill School, and graduated from Yale University in the spring of 1941.2
After graduating from Yale, Ketcham enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve (USMCR) on May 5, 1941, in New Haven, Connecticut.3 He was accepted as an alternate in the Candidates Class for Commission commencing in October 1941, but he chose not to join.4 After an eight-month wait, a period that saw the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the entry of the United States into World War II, Private First Class Ketcham reported to active duty in Company “F” Candidates Class stationed at the Marine Barracks, Quantico, Virginia, on February 2, 1942.5 At Quantico Ketcham learned how to be a combat leader and received satisfactory remarks in combat intelligence, chemical warfare, naval law, the rules of land warfare, and other topics. On April 4, 1942, he was commissioned a second lieutenant.6
Beginning in July 1942, Ketcham served as an instructor at the Marine Corps School in Quantico and remained there through September 1944. During his two-year stint as an instructor he earned the ranks of first lieutenant (January 1, 1943) and captain (November 1, 1943). By mid-November 1944 he was on his way to Pearl Harbor and await orders for service in the Pacific.7
Aboard the USS General W.C. Langfitt departing from Camp Pendleton, California, Captain Ketcham arrived at the Navy Yard in Pearl Harbor on November 16, 1944, and prepared for amphibious maneuvers in Maui. Ketcham joined the 3rd Battalion, 24th Marines, 4th Marine Division and was made commanding officer of “I” Company. As company commander Captain Ketcham led his men in maneuvers in Kahului and landing exercises near Pearl Harbor at Maalaea Bay from January 1-18, 1945.8 Ketcham, along with his men of “I”Company and the rest of the 24th Marines, departed for Iwo Jima a short time later.
Iwo Jima held great strategic importance for the U.S. military. With an air base on Iwo Jima, American bombers could easily attack the Japanese mainland and in turn help end the war in the Pacific. The invasion called for three Marine divisions, the 3rd (reserve), 4th, and 5th, to attack more than 22,000 well-fortified Japanese troops. Prior to the battle the Japanese built a strong island defense, which included miles of underground caves.9
Captain Ketcham, with 133 men of “I” Company under his command, landed on Iwo Jima February 19, 1945, during the opening day of the battle. After thirty days of combat the 3/24 Marines repulsed stiff Japanese resistance over the rough terrain. A war diary of the 24th Marines traced the unit from landing to departure. It covered the units’ orders, enemy activity, and provided a daily list of casualties. This source reveals that from February 19 to their departure on March 20, the 24th Marines suffered 2,759 total casualties (491 killed in action).10 Of Ketcham’s original 133 men, only nine survived the battle.11 In total 6,891 Marines were killed and 18,070 were wounded on Iwo Jima. The Japanese suffered more than 21,000 killed.12
For his actions on Iwo Jima, Captain Ketcham received the Navy Cross, the Silver Star Medal, and two Purple Hearts. The citation for his Navy Cross reads:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Captain William T. Ketcham, Jr., United States Marine Corps Reserve, for service as set forth in the following citation:
For extraordinary heroism as Commanding Officer of Company I, Third Battalion, Twenty-fourth Marines, Fourth Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 24 February 1945. Although suffering from a bullet wound in the arm and a shrapnel wound in the leg which he received while directing an attack against a heavily fortified hostile position, Captain Ketcham refused to be evacuated and, despite the shock and the loss of blood from his wounds, returned to his company and led another attack against this well-defended position. Moving to a rocky crest forward of his right flank platoon in the face of heavy mortar and small-arms fire, he directed accurate 60-mm mortar and artillery fire on four pillboxes and, after destroying these, moved his company on to commanding ground, reorganized and successfully repulsed a counterattack of some twenty Japanese. His skill, initiative and courageous devotion to duty in the face of enemy fire were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.13
After the war William Ketcham returned to Yale and received his law degree while remaining in the Marine Corps Reserve until he retired as a major in 1958. He worked for NATO in London and spent most of his life as a special counsel for IBM before his retirement in 1984. Ketcham was a well-known squash and tennis player, holding the positions of president of the United States Squash Racquets Association and director of the International Lawn Tennis Club.14
William Tredwell Ketcham died on July 18, 2006, in Lawrence, New York.15
|United States||World War II|