Heroes: the Marines
"...I stayed busy with the buildup which lead to Iwo [Jima] in February 1945 and later Okinawa, neither of which operations I took direct part in..."
Joseph (Name withheld)
- Branch of Service: USMC
- Unit: Not Stated
- Dates: 1942 - 1945
- Location: Pacific Campaign -- Bougainville, Kawajalein, Saipan, and Guam
- Rank: CPL
- Birth Year: 1923
- Entered Service: Missouri
I was a jarhead [U. S. Marine] during WWII.
I graduated high school in June 1942, turned 17 in July and talked my folks into signing me up - the Marines were pretty hot stuff at the time what with Wake and Midway and all and I couldn't wait!
I took boot camp in San Diego in September and October  followed by unit training at Camp Elliot here on the mesa just a few miles south of where I presently live.
In March 1943, 7500 of us sailed out of San Diago harbor, arriving 13 days later in New Caledonia [Coral Sea].
After a few weeks we boarded an LST and sailed northwest to the Solomon Islands where, after a night anchored off Guadalcanal (where we got our first jollies - an airraid), we went on to the Russell Islands, some 60 miles NW. Until the next April, we used that base as the departure point for various sized detachments which went north in steps up as far as Bougainville, returning each time to the Russells for regrouping.
The first of May 1944, we boarded ship and convoyed to Kawajalein to await the start of the Marianas campaigns. After remaining there in the atoll until June, we went west for the Saipan campaign where we were reserve for that operation.
When the Jap fleet sortied from the Phillipines to try to take out the invasion force (which resulted in the famous Marianas Turkey Shoot which decimated the Japanese naval air), we shipboard reserves fled back to the Marshalls. This time to Eniwetok.
In mid-July we again went west and finally suceeded in getting off the ship when the invasion of Guam got underway. I was part of the Southern Force which landed at Agat, south of the Orote Peninsula in support of the lst Provisional Marine Brigade.I mention these locations as I note that you spent some time on Guam [Note: this is in referrence to the message sent his friend, and fellow contributor, Joseph J. Gilinisky, USAAF Joseph J. Gilinsky, USAF] and likely remember them.
When Guam became secure in August, I stayed busy with the buildup which lead to Iwo [Jima] in February 1945 and later Okinawa, neither of which operations I took direct part in. Thankfully, I had ended up in the hospital with dengue and had a slow recovery from that.
On Guam I used to watch the B-29s returning from their runs to Japan and not once did I have any inkling that my association with them would ever become any closer.
In July 45, I was ordered to the states on emergency leave as my Dad was dying. I puddlejumped my way in an NATS R4D (C-54) from Guam to Eniwetok, Kwajalein, Johnson and Honolulu and from there on a big 4-engine flying boat on to Alameda where I arrived on 29 July. I was home in Missouri on leave when the war ended, for which I breathed sigh of relief knowing I would not be going back for the homeland invasion.
After a few weeks of guard duty at the Naval Powder Factory at Indianhead, Maryland, I had enough points and was discharged with the rank of buck sgt. Then after 11 months in three different jobs in Tulsa, I enlisted in the USAAF - and that's the rest of the story!
The original story continues on to a very colorful career in the USAAF/USAF in which the contributor takes part in the "Cold War" and participates in many operations during this historic period of American history following World War II.
Hopefully, we will be allowed to add the second and equally interesting part to this story.
Original story is from a message (e-mail) received on 31 October 2001.
Story added and modified on 30 December 2001.
We, at the World War II Stories - In Their Own Words web site wish to offer to Mr. Joseph (Last Name Withheld) our most profound THANK YOU for his poignant story of his personal experiences -- during World War II and especially for allowing us to share those memories. We will always be grateful for this fine gentleman's contributions to the war effort and to the countless other men and women who put forth their "finest hour".
September 5, 2002.
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