Dakota Datebook

Willard Dowsett, Distinguished Service

Saturday, November 20, 2004

On the night of November 20, 1942, the North Dakota 164th Infantry took up positions under cover of darkness on the island of Guadalcanal, where they had been in action for almost a month. The following morning, they were instructed to cross a deep ravine and attack the Japanese who were embedded on the opposite ledge.

It was virtually a suicide mission until Corporal Willard Dowsett volunteered to scout the jungle ahead by himself. Dowsett spotted one Japanese machine gun nest, then another and yet more. He shot at them, and they all returned fire, which gave away their location. Corporal Dowsett was killed by the return fire but had saved an entire company from moving into a deadly ambush. For his actions, Dowsett posthumously received the Distinguished Service Cross.

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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