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Bob Holmes

 

Date and Place of Birth: April 9, 1923 Troy, MO
Date and Place of Death:    February 22, 1945 Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands
Baseball Experience: Minor League
Position: Pitcher
Rank: Second Lieutenant
Military Unit: 27th Marines, 5th Marine Division US Marine Corps
Area Served: Pacific Theater of Operations

Robert D. Holmes was born in Troy, Missouri, and attended Buchanan High School, where he participated in baseball, football, basketball and track. Following graduation, he enrolled at Central Methodist College (now Central Methodist University) in Fayette, Missouri. He quarterbacked the football team, pitched for the baseball nine, was a forward with the basketball squad, and was outstanding in the javelin and pole vault for the track squad.

In May 1942, Holmes signed with the New York Yankees’ organization and reported to the American Association’s Kansas City Blues training camp on June 2. Later that month he was assigned to the Joplin Miners of the Class C Western Association. As the starting pitcher in the second game of a June 12 doubleheader, Holmes won his first professional game against the Muskogee Reds, and under the guidance of veteran minor league manager Doc Bennett, he went on to make 22 appearances for the fifth-place Miners for an 8–8 record. At the end of the season, Holmes returned to Central Methodist to continue his education. On December 9, 1942, he enlisted with the Marine Corps and while waiting to be called for active service he helped guide the Central Methodist Eagles basketball team to its first MCAU (Missouri College Athletic Union) championship in a decade.

As the 1943 baseball season rolled around, Holmes was still waiting to be called for service and began the year with the Binghamton Triplets of the Class A Eastern League. After a handful of appearances he was assigned to the Norfolk Tars of the Class B Piedmont League, where a young catcher named Yogi Berra was just starting his career. On July 1, 1943, as the Tars were making a run for the Piedmont League pennant, Holmes reported for active service with the Marines.

As part of the V-12 Navy College Training Program, which was designed to supplement the force of commissioned officers, Holmes was sent to Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, for eight months. In March 1944, he was at Parris Island, South Carolina, for regular Marine recruit training, and then transferred to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, for officer training. Second Lieutenant Holmes received his commission from the Special Officer Candidate School on October 1, 1944, and immediately transferred to Camp Pendleton, California, where he joined the 27th Marines of the 5th Marine Division.

In December 1944, Holmes left for overseas duty in the Pacific. He commanded a DUKW, six-wheel-drive amphibious truck, in the third wave of the invasion at Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945. Two days later, he was mortally wounded "while gallantly spraying the enemy on Iwo Jima, with machine gun fire," according to the Troy Free Press. He died while being evacuated by boat from the beach to a hospital ship. “It was not possible to take him ashore for burial,” Chaplain John M. Recher told his parents in a letter. “So [he] was buried at sea after the usual and proper preparation. As Ship’s Chaplain I read the Burial Service and with the help of Officers and men committed [him] to the deep.”

He is memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing at the Honolulu Memorial in Hawaii.

Year

Team

League

Class

G

IP

ER

BB

SO

W

L

ERA

1942
Joplin Western Assoc C 22 126 - 75 79 8 8 -
1943
Binghamton Eastern A - - - - - - - -
1943
Norfolk Piedmont B 6 23 - 13 18 0 2 -

 

Bob Holmes

Bob Holmes (front row, third from right) with the Buchanan High School basketball team in 1940

Bob Hiolmes

Buchanan High School basketball team after playing in the Washington tournament in 1940 (Bob Holmes is front row, third from left

Thanks to Jerry and Betty Eppard for help with this biography. Thanks also to Astrid van Erp for help with photos for this biography

Date Added January 31, 2012 Updated August 2, 2017

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