Fallen Hero

Private First Class

Vito J.Junevicus

March 8, 1926 - November 28, 1950
Hometown:
Brooklyn, New York
Entered Service:
May 31, 1944
Unit:

1st Marine Division, 7th Marines, 1st Battalion, Company C

Rank:
Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps
Award(s):
Purple Heart
Cemetery:
Plot G, Site 352, National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific

Before the War

Vito J. Junevicus was born in Brooklyn, New York, on March 8, 1926, to Lithuanian immigrant parents. Like many boys in his neighborhood, he enjoyed playing street handball. His father left the family and his mother remarried Joseph Kumeto. In his enlistment papers, Vito wrote, “Joseph has been my father in every day that matters.” Vito attended a Vocational High School in Brooklyn for two years where he studied “radio maintenance, drafting, and woodworking.”

Military Experience

Junevicus enlisted in the U.S. Marines in 1944 and was quickly shipped to Iwo Jima. Shortly after arriving, he engaged in fighting, was injured, and received a Purple Heart. His captain sent his mother the following letter

Vito delivered messages under extremely heavy mortar and machine-gun fire. Through his courage and tireless work, he enabled his platoon to operate with efficiency despite extremely difficult conditions. His courage and conduct throughout the war were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Junevicus returned home to Brooklyn in May 1946 and worked briefly for the Eclipse Mattress Company. In June 1946, Vito re-enlisted and spent the next year stationed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Junevicus was continuously written up by his superiors multiple times for public intoxication that led to him being, “incapacitated for the proper performance of duty.” Most notably, in June 1950, Junevicus was court martialed for his, “unauthorized absence from the marine barracks” at the U.S. Naval Base in Brooklyn. Vito’s sentence was a reduction from the rank of corporal to that of private first class.

On September 1, 1950 Junevicus and members of the 7th Marines, 1st Battalion, Company C, boarded the USS Titania in San Diego, California and disembarked at Inchon, Korea on September 26. The unit saw action right away and helped to capture and secure Seoul in early October. Company C then participated in the Wonson-Hungnam-Chosin campaign. Just as he had in World War II, Vito was at the center of what would become a central moment in history when he was killed during this campaign on November 28, 1950 by a missile near, Yudam-Ni.

U.S. Marines disembark from LCVP and wage ashore at the Wonsan invasion, October 26, 1950. National Archives and Records Administration (421385)., U.S. Marines land in the Wonsan invasion, October 26, 1950. National Archives and Records Administration (421393)., Leathernecks of the First Marine Division fire into a Chinese roadblock, December 6, 1950. National Archives and Records Administration (A5429).

Commemoration

Despite the demons that haunted him in the post-war years, Private First Class Vito J. Junevicus proved that heroism comes in many forms and that even those who faced obstacles can show extraordinary courage in the face of adversity.

After his death, his mother, Mrs. Eva Kamuto, received a letter noting, “our company was sent back to guard our supply route…and Vito’s platoon was given an important sector along the road. During the early hours of the next morning, the Chinese attacked our positions, and during the heavy fighting which ensued, Vito was mortally wounded.” Then echoing what his commander in World War II stated, Captain Morris ended with,” Vito was the type of person we are proud to have in the Marine Corps. You may rest assured your son was a credit to you.”

At first, the bodies of Junevicus and his fellow company members were deemed “unrecoverable.” However, on August 3, 1955, Mrs. Kamuto received another letter that stated, “The remains of your son have been recovered and identified at a mortuary in Kokura, Japan.” Junevicus’ body was repatriated later that year, and he was buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii. Eva Kumuto made one request to a staff sergeant regarding her son’s burial. She wanted to “make sure to inscribe New York on his headstone.”

Vito Junevicus’ grave at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii, July 22, 2018. Courtesy of Gena Oppenheim., The Brooklyn Korean War Veterans Plaza memorial in Cadman Plaza Park in Brooklyn, New York, September 27, 2018. Courtesy of Gena Oppenheim., Vito Junevicus’ name on the Brooklyn Korean War Veterans Plaza memorial in Cadman Plaza Park in Brooklyn, New York, September 27, 2018. Courtesy of Gena Oppenheim.

Bibliography

1st Marine Division, Korea; Records of the U.S. Marine Corps, General Administrative Files, Sep 1950 - Mar 1955, Record Group 127 (Box 19); National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.

1st Marine Division, Korea; Records of the U.S. Marine Corps, General Administrative Files, Sep 1950 - Mar 1955, Record Group 127 (Box 44-45); National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.

1st Marine Division, Korea; Records of the U.S. Marine Corps, General Administrative Files, Sep 1950 - Mar 1955, Record Group 127 (Box 84); National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.

Kerr, F. C. Leathernecks of the First Marine Division.... Photograph. December 6, 1950. National Archives and Records Administration (A5429). Image.

Records for Vito Junevicus; Korean War Casualty File, 1950-1953 [Electronic File], Record Group 330; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD [retrieved from the Access to Archival Databases at https://aad.archives.gov/aad/, September 15, 2018].

Records for Vito Junevicus; Korean War Data Extract File, 1950-1953 [Electronic File], Record Group 330; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD [retrieved from the Access to Archival Databases at https://aad.archives.gov/aad/, September 15, 2018].

Records for Vito Junevicus; Defense Casualty Analysis System, 1950-2006 [Electronic File], Record Group 330; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD [retrieved from the Access to Archival Databases at https://aad.archives.gov/aad/, September 15, 2018].

Rose, C. K. U.S. Marines disembark from LCVP and wage ashore at the Wonsan invasion.... Photograph. October 26, 1950. National Archives and Records Administration (421385). Image.

Rose, C. K. U.S. Marines disembark from LCVP and wage ashore at the Wonsan invasion.... Photograph. October 26, 1950. National Archives and Records Administration (421393). Image.

Vito Junevicus, Individual Deceased Personnel File, Department of the Army.

Vito Junvicus, Official Military Personnel File, Department of the Navy. U.S. Marine Corps, Record of the U.S. Marine Corps, RG 127, National Archives and Records Administration - St. Louis

“Vito John Junevicus.” Korean War Project. Last modified 2017. Accessed September 15, 2018. https://www.koreanwar.org/html/korean_war_project_remembrance_search_6_2....

“Vito John Junevicus” National Cemetery Administration Nationwide Gravesite Locator. Accessed September 15, 2018. https://gravelocator.cem.va.gov/index.html?cemetery=N899.

Vito John Junevicus. U.S. Marine Corps Muster Rolls, 1798-1958. Digital Images. http://ancestry.com.

Vito John Junevicus. U.S. National Cemetery Interment Control Forms, 1928-1962. Digital Images. http://ancestry.com.

Vito John Junevicus. World War II Navy, Marines Corps and Coast Guard Casualties, 1941-1945. Digital Images. http://ancestry.com.