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was with the 2nd Marine Division during the invasion of Tarawa, Saipan, Tinian, and diversionary action off Okinawa. My Higgins boat was sunk about two thousand yards off Betio. Picked up by a Captains gig, along with two other survivors, and taken in next to the pier, we waded in under heavy machinegun and rifle fire to the beach. To the best of my recollection, we had over two hundred Marines when we left the ship. We had less than 35 when we left the island. That was a real battle.
After Tarawa, we went to Camp Tarawa on the island of Hawaii, where we trained to invade Saipan. My battallion was trained to go ashore the night before the big landing, fight our way to the top of Tapotchau, along with naval and artillery spotters. Thank God this was canceled the day before D-day, and our battalion transferred from the destroyers back to transports.
After fighting our way through Garapan and on towards the end of the island, my battalion found itself about two miles in advance of the rest of the division, and set up a perimeter defense in a grove of trees. Next morning, we headed down towards the beach when a spotter plane flew over and dropped a wrench with a note informing us that about 300 Japanese soldiers were occupying the cliffs directly ahead of our position. Reaching the cliffs, we set up a defensive position around the cliff. About eight o'clock, the enemy tried to over run our position and we killed quite a few of them along with losing a number of our own. A scout found a trail coming up from the beach and behind our position. Our Captain, Captain William Sanders, asked for a volunteer to take a machinegun and go down on the beach and prevent our foes from coming up. I, being young and dumb, volunteered, and along with an assistant gunner, took our .30 caliber, water-cooled machinegun and dug in on the beach. About an hour later, after the enemy had tried again to go over the top and had knocked out the remaining machineguns, someone called down for one of us to come up and try to get a gun operating. I sent my assistant, D. J. Levelle, back up on top which left me all alone on the beach, no action had taken place yet.
It was very quite and very dark with out any moon. Suddenly, I heard a mother talking to a child. Then, I heard an enemy officer yelling out orders to his men. Then, for several minutes, all was very quiet. When I heard the dripping, turning around to by back, I saw three Japanese coming up out of the water, the first one already about six feet away and the second standing up right at the edge of the water. All were dressed in nothing but loin cloths. Water drops were dripping off the second one's loin cloth into the ocean. That was what alerted me. The third one was still crawling ashore. Turning around, I shot each one of them, and then shot each one again in the top of the head to make sure they were dead. By then, my adrenalin was really surging, and I was ready to take on the whole Japanese Empire. Just as I turned around, the biggest Japanese guy I ever saw came charging at me from the front. Aiming my carbine, I fired the remaining bullets into the chest of my enemy. Absolutely nothing. My life was over, or so I thought.
Suddenly, I remembered something my high school football coach had said to me. "HIT THEM HARDER THAN THEY HIT YOU." Coming up from my prone position to an erect position, I took the carbine and shoved it as hard as I could into the chest of the my adversary and threw him off to the side. Dropping the carbine, I reached for my K-Bar, just as everthing went black. Thinking I must be dead, I lay there for about ten seconds when I realized that I must not be dead because I was thinking. I realized what had happened.
My foe had a grenade in his right hand and had attempted to jump into my foxhole and take me out. The grenade went off and blew him apart, and part of his guts were blown onto me. My next reaction, strangely enough, was anger. I was angry that I hadn't been able to kill him with my carbine. Throwing the carbine away, I said that I would never again use a carbine against my enemies in the East.
The Japanese soldiers started yelling, "Japanese drink Marine blood!" I would yell back, "Japanese catch Marine first!". Then, they would yell, "Roosevelt Jew son of bitch!" I would yell in response, "Hirohito eat shit!" This would upset them and they would charge me from behind rocks and trees and I would mow them down. This went on all night. After some other adventures, the next morning the company commander and a bunch of Marines came down to see what all the yelling and firing had been all about. Thirty five dead Japanese were counted within twenty yards of my position, plus four were either in the foxhole with me or on the edge of it.
After coming back from Tinian, the company commander informed me that I had been recommended for the Navy Cross which I received at a Regimental Parade.