First Lieutenant August John Essman

First Lieutenant August John Essman

United States Army Military Police Corps, U.S. Government

End of Watch Sunday, November 29, 1942

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August John Essman

First Lieutenant August Essman succumbed to a gunshot wound sustained three days earlier during a riot between army soldiers and military police near 17th Street and East Washington Street in Phoenix, Arizona.

A military police officer had been called to a cafe at 13th Street and East Washington Street to investigate an assault of a female being hit in the head with a bottle by a soldier. Once military police arrived, the soldier resisted arrest and attempted to flee. In an attempt to stop the soldier from fleeing, a warning shot was fired into a concrete floor, striking another soldier not involved in the incident in the leg. A group of soldiers immediately attacked a group of military police officers investigating the original assault. Additional military police officers were called to the area as well as Phoenix Police Department to help quell the disturbance.

The second flare-up of soldiers attacking military police officers occurred near 1406 East Washington Street, which was quickly quieted.

The next day, 150 soldiers were lined up to board buses to return to camp. An army truck carrying military police was being followed by soldiers in a private vehicle. As the military police were dismounting, the soldiers in the private vehicle attacked the military police. A shot was fired, causing military police officers to return fire. During the three-hour gun battle, First Lieutenant Essman was shot in the abdomen. First Lieutenant Essman was taken to Saint Joseph's Hospital, where he died from his injury.

As a result of the riots, 180 soldiers were jailed, 12 were wounded, and two were killed, including a civilian. The military court-martialed 27 men: one was sentenced to death, three were sentenced to 25-50-years prison terms, three were sentenced to 20-year terms, five were sentenced to ten-year prison terms, three soldiers were declared insane, three were acquitted, and charges were dropped against all the others.

First Lieutenant Essman served with the United States Army Military Police Corps for five months and was attached to the 777th Military Police Battalion at Papago Park Military Reservation. He was survived by his wife and son.


  • Age 39
  • Tour 5 months
  • Badge Not available
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Location Arizona
  • Incident Date Thursday, November 26, 1942
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Sentenced to death


Most Recent Reflection

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Rest in Peace, MP Essman!

MP Matt Lyons - 1980/83
U.S. Army Military Police - 546th MP Co. Ft. Sill, OK

July 3, 2023

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