Orville W. Pierce (1951/04/02)

In 1952 the Ford Ord community began asking itself, "What ever happened to that young officer who helped design Stillwell Hall?" In 1953 they got their answer.

Orville W. Pierce was born in St. Clair County, Illinois, in 1916, and spent most of his early life in that state. He entered the University of Illinois about 1935 and graduated about 1939. While in college, he was probably an ROTC cadet, as he was commissioned a second lieutenant in artillery upon his graduation.

Orville was stationed with the 74th Field Artillery at Fort Ord, California in 1940 and became one of the designers of Stilwell Hall. Following World War II, he returned to Fort Ord and Watsonville became home to the Pierce family.

In 1950 Major Pierce was sent to Korea to serve as a battery commander of the 503rd Artillery of the 2nd Infantry Division. His family remained in the Pajaro Valley. Upon arrival in Korea, his unit was assigned to the defense of the Pusan perimeter. Following the invasion at Inchon and the subsequent withdrawal of the North Korean Army, his battalion was in the vanguard as US forces made their way to the Yalu River.

On November 30, 1950, the Chinese communist army attacked UN forces with overwhelming force and Major Pierce's battalion was ordered to retreat. The 503rd FA Battalion was assigned to the high ground near Kunu-ri Anju- Sinanju Road to support the retreating division. On December 1, the 503rd FA Battalion was cut off from the division several miles behind enemy lines near Ch'ongnyongch'am. They were surrounded, attacked from all sides and Major Pierce was forced to surrender.

On August 16, 1953, Mrs. Pierce was informed that her husband, Orville, had died on April 2, 1951, while a prisoner of war. The location of the body of Orville Pierce has not been identified.

(NARAK; ABMC; Fort Ord California, History, http://nimst.tripod.com/cgi-bin/FtOrd.html, [16 September 2008] Combat Leadership. com, Maj. Franlich, John US Army, http://www.combatleadership. com/Heroes_Results.asp?MedalID=2376, [16 September 2008]; WRP August 17, 1953 1:1, September 15, 1953 1:1,)

Creator: Nelson, Robert L.
Source: Remembering our own: the Santa Cruz County military roll of honor 1861-2010. Santa Cruz, CA: The Museum of Art & History, c2010.
Date: Undated
Type: OBIT
Coverage: 1950s
Rights: Reproduced by permission of Robert L. Nelson and The Museum of Art & History.
Identifier: RO-PIERCE


Nelson, Robert L. “Orville W. Pierce (1951/04/02).” Remembering our own: the Santa Cruz County military roll of honor 1861-2010. Santa Cruz, CA: The Museum of Art & History, c2010. SCPL Local History. https://history.santacruzpl.org/omeka/items/show/4785. Accessed 24 Apr. 2024.