William Edward Lutschan, Jr. died under mysterious circumstances. A few facts are known for certain about this man. William was born on February 6, 1918. He enlisted in the Marines from California. He was a Sergeant in Headquarters and Service Squadron 21. He died from his wounds on December 8 and in 1947, he was buried at Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California. He was survived by his parents, Mr. & Mrs. William E. Lutschan, Sr., of Hayward, California. These are the known facts of his life. What is uncertain is the manner in which his life ended. His military death certificate simply states that he was "killed in Action, details not known." Three stories have surfaced about how he died.
The first story appeared in the spring 1991 issue of Naval History. Albert A. Grasselli, a Marine present at Ewa on December 7, 1941, wrote in an article entitled "The Ewa Marines" about an incident involving an individual named "Corporal Werner". Shortly after the first Japanese attack wave that morning the duty officer ordered Grasselli and his tent mates to arrest one of their fellow tent mates who, they were told, was a German spy. These Marines had lived and worked together for the past eleven months and thus had grown quite close. The Marine resisted their efforts to arrest him and opened fire on them, at which time he was shot and killed. Grasselli writes that there were "so many bullet holes in him that, thankfully, they never knew which one of them had fired the shot that killed him."
Ray Emory, the Pearl Harbor Survivor who has done the most research on the military casualties of December 7, 1941, was able to contact Grasselli and found out that Werner was not the actual name of this Marine, but was actually William Edward Lutschan, Jr.
The second story concerning the death of Sergeant Lutschan comes from a US Government publication, Infamous Day: Marines at Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941, part of the "Marines in World War II commemorative Series." This monograph was written by Robert J. Cressman and J. Michael Wenger in 1992. The two authors write that a Marine, a truck driver, had been "under suspicion" of espionage and was ordered placed under arrest. He resisted being taken into custody and in the exchange of gunfire, which followed, he was shot dead. Cressman and Wenger identify the Marine as Sergeant William E. Lutschan, Jr.
The third story concerning Sergeant Lutschan appeared in the September 3, 1995 edition of Honolulu Advertiser. Domingo Bolosan, in and article entitled "War scenes were had for boys to stomach," writes about what he saw at Ewa on December 7, 1941. At that time, he was a thirteen year old boy living in the Ewa plantation village closest to the main gate into Ewa Marine Corps Air Station. After describing the Japanese attack on the base, Bolosan writes about what he saw after the attack. Several Marines approached a scrap metal pile at the end of the village and fired shots into the pile. Next a car raced back and forth past the pile; a Marine in the car sprayed the pile with bullets from a Tommy submachine gun.
Shortly afterwards this car left the scrap pile with the body of a man mounted on the rear rack of the car. The man was dead, Bolosan writes. The car stopped briefly on nearby railroad tracks, at which point Bolosan and his friend approached the Marines and started asking them questions. Who was the dead man? He is a spy. What did he do? He had cut down communication lines. Where did he come from? He broke out of the guard house and took some guns and ammunition. Lastly they asked the Marines what was the name of the dead man. According to Bolosan, the name of the dead Marine sounded like "Sgt. Loo-zhun." Bolosan concludes his article by stating that he does not know if the dead man really was a spy or if that was a story the Marines told to get these kids off their backs.
There are several discrepancies between these stories and the known facts about Sergeant Lutschan. But one thing seems certain; the Marines who shot Lutschan thought he was a spy. That does not mean he was a spy. Ray Emory feels that he was not a spy; if he was, he would not be buried in a national cemetery. So the mystery surrounding the death of William Edward Lutschan, Jr., continues.