Sixth Marine Division
Official Website
Stories by Others About the Sixth Division, the Marines, and World War II

First Lt. David N. Schreiner USMC Reserve - Almost the Whole Story Part II

This biography is the product of months of research with the help of many people along the way. Kilenyi did 22 portraits for the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame and to a greater or lesser extent each biography came with the same problem. Once the athletic career was over the rest of the subject's life was worth maybe a sentence or two. Schreiner's life after he graduated from UW was all about his death two years later and nothing of the journey he took to get there. While every piece of Schreiner's football career is readily available in the minutest detail, it became a bit of a quest to learn the details of Schreiner's military career.

An internet search for David Schreiner came up with a number of conflicting stories of his WWII US Marine Corps history. One account even had him wounded on Saipan and receiving a bronze star. The first good source of solid information was the Schreiner Archives at the Cunningham Museum of the Grant County Historical Society in Dave Schreiner's home town of Lancaster, WI. The archivist there, Dennis Wilson, forwarded copies of Schreiner's Certificate of Service, an extremely terse record of his service in the Marines, 2nd Lieutenant Commission and Reserve Officers' Class Certificate. This established a barebones timeline. Another source for great information was Joe Singleton of the 6th Marine Division official website. His knowledge of 1944 and 1945 and what units were where when was very helpful. The timeline has benefited greatly from his input plus Marine histories and the many Wikipedia entries for WWII in the Pacific. Below is a chronology pieced together from all these sources that is strong on troop movements but is weak on Schreiner's movements, especially in early 1944. The writer has the obligation to know as much about his subject as possible before he has the right to leave anything out.

David N. Schreiner       US Marine Corps Timeline       as of 7/27/16

Enlisted in US Marine Corps Reserve, Milwaukee, WI
Placed on active duty. Enlisted file jacket number 535111
Reported to Parris Island, SC for basic training & OCS (Officer Class 380)
Commissioned a 2nd Lt. USMC Reserve Officer file jacket number 029924
Completed 36th Reserve Officers' Class, Quantico, VA
Celebrated in Lancaster, WI with family and fiancé Odette Hendrickson
Dec. 1943
Camp Elliott, San Diego, CA Replacement Training for infill into existing units
2nd & 3rd Marine Raider Battalions leave Bougainville for Guadalcanal
1st & 4th Marine Raider Battalions leave New Caledonia for Guadalcanal
Schreiner shipped out for Noumea, New Caledonia, Arrived early February
4th Marines reformed from 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th Marine Raider Battalions
2nd Marine Raiders became regimental Weapons Company, 4th Marines
Schreiner assigned to Weapons Co. 4th Marines
Mar. 1944
III Amphibious Force assembled at Guadalcanal for the attack on Kavieng
Kavieng Operation cancelled
4th Marines sailed for Emirau Island, The Mathias Group
4th Marines occupied Emirau Is. Performed construction sites garrison duty.
4th Marines relieved and they returned to Guadalcanal
June 1944
Left Guadalcanal for Guam in the Mariana Islands
2nd Battle of Guam
After landing, replaced a gun captain in the Weapons Co. 4th Marines.
Suffered a minor head wound. Awarded a Purple Heart.
Guam secured.
4th Marine Regt. began to redeploy back to Guadalcanal. Completed early Sept.
The 6th Marine Div. is created out of the 4th, 22nd and 29th Marines
Granted reassignment to a rifle platoon, Co. A, 1st Bn. Capt. Clint Eastment, CO
Oct. 1944
Start of rugged training program to prepare for the next invasion
Christmas Eve
'Football Classic' Touch football game between the 4th and the 29th. Ended 0-0
Promoted to 1st Lt.
6th Div. shipped out to Ulithi Atoll, Caroline Islands
Arrived at Ulithi Atoll, III Amphibious Corps marshalling harbor
6th Marine Div., III Amphibious Corps sailed for Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, Japan
4th Marine Regt. landed on the Hagushi beaches, Okinawa. It was Easter Sunday.
4th Marines on the perimeter of the assault on Shuri Castle and Sugar Loaf Hill
Co. A. 1st Bn. not part of the above perimeter assignment. Where was Co. A?
4th Marines lead a shore-to-shore landing south of Naha to secure Oroku Peninsula
Capt. Clinton Eastment severely wounded. Schreiner took over as CO, Co. A.
Organized resistance ended on Oroku Peninsula. Mop-up operations began.
Fatally wounded by a holdout near Kiyamu, a little town 6 miles south of Oroku
Schreiner died on the 82nd day of the battle. Okinawa formally declared secured.
Grave 789, Row 32, Plot A - Sixth Marine Division Cemetery, Okinawa
All Japanese combatants neutralized. Okinawa finally secured.
Schreiner was reinterred in the family plot, Hillside Cemetery, Lancaster, WI

The Wisconsin Veterans Museum in Madison, WI had no records on Schreiner but the Reference Archivist recommended the Terry Frei book, Third Down and a War to Go. This book details the lives of all the Wisconsin Badgers who entered military service at the end of the 1942 football season. Dave Schreiner is one of the two lead characters in the narrative. Third Down and a War to Go is extremely strong on anecdote and incident. Frei spoke to or corresponded with 21 men who served in the Sixth Marine Division. His bibliography lists 7 books about WWII in the Pacific. Unfortunately his footnotes are only explanatory. According to Frei, Schreiner wrote his sister on March 20, 1944 that he had yet to do "one thing for the good of the old USA."5 This could mean that he had yet to join the 4th Marines and did not take part in the Emirau occupation. The book does state that Schreiner joined the 4th Marines on the then-quiet Guadalcanal and that he moved on with the Marines to Kwajalein and Eniwetok.6 This was patently impossible as the 4th Marines did not exist until February 1, 1944 when the Battle for Kwajalein (1/31-2/3) was half over. This writer has tried to fact-check what he has used from the Frei book. It is easy to say when a battle took place but not so easy to identify when a conversation took place or to date a memory.

Terry Frei took great pains to try and pin down just how Schreiner was killed. From various interviews he conducted and accounts of the battle he researched, he concluded that Schreiner had been unnecessarily ordered late on the afternoon of June 20 to check on a pocket of Japanese soldiers who seemed ready to surrender. The surrender turned out to be a trap. Dave Schreiner was shot.7 This is not the official story but a preponderance of the stories assembled by Frei point to this conclusion. In 1996 Betty Schreiner Johnson, Dave Schreiner's sister attended the 6th Marine Division Reunion in Chicago, IL. Frei's book recounted that at that reunion she was told that her brother had been wary of a group of Japanese approaching him and when the Japanese soldier in front bowed, he had a rifle hidden behind his back. Another Japanese soldier took the rifle and shot her brother.8 The teller of this story is unidentified in the narrative and Frei recorded it second hand from Dave Schreiner's niece, Judy Corfield. The details of Schreiner's final action and the fake surrender vary from memory to memory and without an eyewitness account it is impossible to say with certainty exactly how Schreiner was killed. Needless to say, it was very bad luck.

Should any reader have more information about the military life of David Schreiner the writer would be very grateful for any new knowledge. There must be a Marine file somewhere that has all of David Schreiner's information. A query to the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, VA went unanswered. Contact the writer at

This is not the first time this writer has researched a tablet honoring a soldier killed in combat. He has previously written about a tablet honoring 1st Lt. Percy M. Hall, DSC, Co. I., Seventh Regiment, NY National Guard who died in action in France in WWI. The big difference in researching the two lieutenants is that Percy Hall's military career is recorded in three histories, one at the regimental level and two at the company level. In Hall's case it was his civilian life that was difficult to track down. Conversely there are no company level histories that this writer could find that tell the stories of any of the Marine companies that fought with the Sixth Marine Division. A Brief History Of The 4th Marines more than lives up to its name. The time is probably past when a proper History of Company A, 1st Bn., 4th Marines could be effectively written.

A careful look at the photo of Dave Schreiner wearing his football helmet and the bas-relief of Schreiner by Julio Kilenyi shows that Kilenyi saw, in hindsight, a more mature David Schreiner than just a college football player. As did his men in Company A. Semper Fidelis.

Sources and Resources

Frei, Terry - Third Down and a War to Go; Updated paperback edition, Wisconsin Historical Society Press, Madison, WI 2007

Goldlust-Gingrich, Ellen D, and Gingrich, Kurt A. - An All-American In All Respects: The Letters of Dave Schreiner; Wisconsin Magazine of History, Vol. 87, No. 1, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison WI Sept. 2003, p38-49

Hoffman, Maj. Jon T., USMCR - From Makin to Bougainville: Marine Raiders in the Pacific War; Marines in World War II Commemorative Series, History and Museums Division, Headquarters, US Marine Corps, Wash. DC 1995

Nichols, Jr., USMC, Major Charles S and Shaw, Jr., Henry I. - Okinawa: Victory in the Pacific; Historical Branch, G-3 Division, Headquarters, US Marine Corps, Washington DC 1955

Santelli, James S. - A Brief History Of The 4th Marines; Historical Division, Headquarters, US Marine Corps, Wash. DC 1970

The 1951 Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame Program, Milwaukee, WI Nov. 28, 1951

McBride, Raymond E - The Great in Sports Open Hall of Fame; The Milwaukee Journal, The Journal Company, Milwaukee, WI, November, 29, 1951 pp1&22

Carlton, Jimmy - New Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame emerges from its troubled past; html


1 The year of birth is off one year on the tablet. The writer corrected the copy for accuracy.
2 Schreiner Football career details from Wikipedia accessed 6/12/16
3 Schreiner Archives, Cunningham Museum, Grant County Historical Society, Lancaster, WI Copies of Schreiner's Certificate of Military Service 6/17/49, and Officer's Appointment 9/8/43
4 Schreiner Military career was cobbled together from many sources most notably his Find-A-Grave Memorial #6789286 created by Cedric Fry Sep. 20, 2002 accessed 6/14/16
5 Frei, Terry - Third Down and a War to Go; Updated paperback edition, Wisconsin Historical Society Press, Madison, WI 2007 p141
6 Ibid., p142
7 Ibid., p200-208
8 Ibid., p206

☆ Part I
☆ Stories by Others