Ernest T. Avila (1943/05/29)
A headstone in Gilroy serves as a reminder of an Aleutian Island casualty.
Ernest Avila was born in California on December 29, 1914, to Robert and Lona Avila. He had a younger sister, Lena. In 1920, the family was living in Paraiso, Monterey County, California. Military records indicate that Ernest completed grammar school; however, there is no record of his attending high school. When he registered for the draft, he indicated that he was a single male, living in Santa Cruz County and was employed as a clerk.
On May 20, 1941, Ernest T. Avila joined the US Army in San Francisco and was assigned the rank of private. After completing basic training, he was sent to the 7th Infantry Division, 32nd Infantry Regiment.
In the spring of 1943, Avila's unit was sent to the Aleutian Islands to assist in removing the Japanese who had invaded Kiska Island. By the end of May they had nearly completed their task; however, pockets of resistance still remained on nearby Attu Island.
"On the 29th of May, 1943 at 3:15a.m. [Japanese General] Yamasaki's remaining troops took advantage of the lingering fog and managed to break through the American lines. Ten minutes later, with the artillery battery located on Engineer Hill in sight, the Japanese commander ordered a Banzai attack."
On May 29, 1943, Ernest T. Avila was listed as having been "Killed in Action." His remains were returned to California and buried in Saint Mary's Catholic Cemetery in Gilroy, California.
(ACGEN; 1920 US Census, CA, Monterey; NARA2; Saint Mary's Cemetery Headstone; Editor, World War II In The Aleutians: A Brief History, http://www.hlswilliwaw.com/aleutians/Aleutians/ html/aleutians-wwii.htm, [16 September 2008])