Lawrence Earl Garrison

U.S. Veteran

March 18, 1920 – November 20, 1943

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Marine Corps Private First-Class Lawrence Earl “Brownie” Garrison, killed at age 23 in World War II, was accounted for on August 23, 2022.  PFC Garrison, born on March 18, 1920, in Adamson, Oklahoma, was the seventh of nine children born to Isaac Samuel “Sammie” Garrison and Annie Ethel Boling Garrison.  The family settled on a farm in Ryan, Oklahoma in 1933.  He grew up with siblings Katie, Mary, Calvin, Albert Lee, Woodrow, Andrew, Wallace, and Everett, half-brothers George and Emory from his father’s earlier marriage to Sophia Rhodes of Indiana, and stepsisters Ruth and Dahlia from his father’s later marriage to Addie Taylor Gholson. He had an additional seven older step siblings. Lawrence graduated from Ryan High School in 1940. While in school, he participated in football, wrestling, track and softball. His brothers remembered him as a good hunter, often going hunting to help feed the family.  In July 1940, he entered the Civilian Conservation Corp in Colorado.  On June 14, 1941, he enlisted in the Marine Corp in Denver, Colorado and went to boot camp in San Diego, California.  He was assigned to H Company, Second Battalion, Eighth Marine Regiment, Second Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force.  He saw action on Guadalcanal and Tarawa Atoll in the Gilbert Islands. Japanese Admiral Shibazaki predicted “ (i)t would take one million men one hundred years to conquer Tarawa.” Despite heavy casualties, the U.S. Marines did just that in 72 hours, killing Admiral Shibazaki in the process. The American victory at Tarawa provided a platform for the U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet to launch assaults on the Marshall and Caroline Islands to advance their Central Pacific Campaign against Japan. Lawrence was mortally wounded on the first day of battle at Tarawa, November 20, 1943. His remains were interred at a division cemetery on the island until after the war.  His father Sammie received a telegram dated December 22, 1943 informing him of the loss. Sadly, he would receive notification in February 1947 that Lawrence’s remains were not under the cross bearing his name at Tarawa and had not been located. On October 18, 1949, two years after Sammie’s death, the remains of Lawrence and other battle casualties were declared unrecoverable by the military. Lawrence’s name was inscribed on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) in Honolulu, Hawaii. In 1949, ninety-four sets of unidentified Tarawa remains were interred at the Punchbowl Cemetery.   In May 2017, the military disinterred remains of unknowns from Tarawa. Lawrence’s remains were positively identified through DNA matches to a paternal nephew and a maternal niece.  The family was notified of the identification on August 24, 2022.  A rosette will be placed next to Lawrence’s name at the Courts of the Missing to signify his recovery. On November 16, 1943, just four days before his death, Lawrence wrote what is believed to be his last letter to his sister Mary. Admonishing her not to worry, he wrote “…. (j)ust remember that God has a plan for each of our lives. That plan will reach maturity regardless of the interference of mankind. God is the final deciding factor in whatever we attempt to do…” While his life was short, Lawrence was truly the epitome of Semper Fidelis—Always Faithful. With the passage of almost 80 years since Lawrence’s death, most of the immediate family has died; however, he is survived by a stepsister, Mrs. Ruth Cannon of San Bernardino, California and a multitude of nieces and nephews scattered throughout the country.  Lawrence will be buried with full military honors on October 5, 2023 at Arlington National Cemetery.  

Visitation & Funeral Service Information

Lawrence will be buried with full military honors on October 5, 2023 at Arlington National Cemetery.