Heroes: the Marine Corps
"...I was walking around some of the ruins -- when I saw a small piper cub up in the sky -- and within minutes there must of been about 100 Japanese Zero planes in the air strafing us..."
Paul C. Hebert
- Branch of Service: USMC
- Unit: 543rd Platoon
- Dates: 1942 - 1946
- Location: Pacific Theater
- Rank: PFC
- Birth Year: 1922
- Entered Service: Eunice, LA
Paul C. Hebert
543rd Platoon, U.S.M.C.
"I joined the Marines on July 7, 1942...was discharged July 6, 1946. I joined the "Regular Marines" for 4 years...(no reserve time after discharged) at age 18 -- only one month after my school graduation.
I took my basic training in San Diego. I went for my boot camp training in San Diego, California for about 8 weeks. After boot camp in late August 1946 we underwent heavy infantry training for about 6 or 8 weeks.
Paul Cleveland Hebert.
Image taken in 1942 of the 543rd Platoon, U.S.M.C., at San Diego. Paul is seated in the front row, third from left.
Click on the above image to see full size photograph of the 543rd Platoon, USMC...You just might see someone that you recognize.
Immediately after, I was sent to the island of Midway.
We boarded [a] ship in late November 1942 for Midway Island. We arrived on Midway about the first of year 1943. Midway is a very small island...about 2-1/2 miles by about 1 mile or less. It was just large enough to have an airfield for our planes to land for refueling. I think it was mostly ..maybe B-17's ?? plus other smaller planes like P-40's...P-38's etc.
Close up of image above showing a very young Paul Cleveland Hebert in San Diego.
Paul C. Hebert, on R & R, in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, taken, early in 1944, after leaving Midway Island enroute to the mainland.
Among some of our duties was to man some lookout stations. We had three scattered over the Island. During the time I was on Midway my MOS [from infantry] was changed to Heavy Artillery...155 MM. We would get our information from the control towers about any ship on the horizon and plotted the course until the ships were identified as ours.
However, I arrived at Midway after the battle. But, we were sort of there to exercise constant surveillance [to ward off a possible attack by the Japanese]. I was there for 17 months -- came back to the states for 6-8 months.
I left Midway Island in early 1944. After reaching [the] United States...we had a 30 days leave. So, I went back home for about 3-1/2 weeks. Upon returning, after my leave, I underwent more training in North Carolina at Camp Lejeune. I think this lasted for about 8 weeks...then we got on a troop train and made the return trip to San Diego.
We got on a troop ship again and headed for the island of Okinawa, Japan.
Then in April 1, 1945 I was in on the invasion of Okinawa. The first day we were there; Easter Sunday Morning -- we all went on shore very calm.
So, I was walking around some of the ruins -- when I saw a small piper cub up in the sky -- and within minutes there must of been about 100 Japanese Zero planes in the air strafing us. [When I queried my Uncle Paul about the strafing planes possibly being the infamous kamikaze planes, his reply was: 'As for the strafing planes..I would imagine that they would fight back with the ships involved...but, I was too busy ducking to notice.' We had not made any fox holes so we hid the best we could in old bomb craters (ours) while the show was on. I say 'show' because that is how I envisioned this after seeing this in movie theaters...all the ships that were offshore was firing at the planes and about 10 or 15 planes was shot down -- some too close to us for comfort.
That was the only close encounter I had; but, Thank God we made it to where we were to be for a while.
I was on Okinawa until after the Japanese surrendered. Never got a scratch.
[I asked my Uncle Paul if he had ever kept a journal or diary and his reply was: '...About the diary...I did have one; but, during my travels...I must of left it somewhere...who knows where??
I returned to the States in June -- spent my last 30 days in New Orleans, was discharged after 4 years in the Marines -- and I must admit, I loved every minute -- with $100 bucks and a free bus trip back home.
After my discharge on July 6, 1946 I met my wife Eldine [LeDOUX] the next day...July 7, 1946. We were married on December 24, 1946.
I never fired my rifle at my enemy. I was always with the heavy guns in the background -- never on the front lines [and] that, Mr. Joe, is the history of my service time -- like I said...not too impressive."
'Attached you will find a couple photographs. One is my Platoon taken right after boot camp. (I am third from left..front row) and the other is of me walking on the streets of Pearl Harbor. I think this must of been right after I left Midway Island. We were on our way home the next day and had stopped in Pearl Harbor for a little R&R.'
Paul had two brothers and he further commented about their service. '...Now about my brothers: Pierre was too old for the draft...so he did the next best thing. He went to work for the ship yards in Beaumont -- building war ships. I do not know what kind but they were used for the war. Pierre did this until the end of the War in 1945. Now Joe was on a ship while in the Navy. He stayed in the Navy about 3 years...that is all I know...'
Originally written on: 31 July 2001
Paul Cleveland Hebert was born on May 20, 1924, in Eunice, Louisiana. He was the fifth child born to Lezime "Onesime" and Meliza ROY. Paul had two sisters, Onelia [deceased] and Lucia (Lucy...the Mother of this webmaster -- who passed away on September 27, 2002]. He also had two brothers, Pierre, who passed away on January 23, 2002 and Joe who passed away on August 24, 2003. Paul married Eldine LEDOUX on December 24, 1946 in Eunice, Louisiana. Of this marriage, four children were born: Ray in January 1948, Bob in July 1950, and Linda born in October 1953. Paul and Eldine had an additional stillborn child 1956. Paul and Eldine currently reside on the north side of Eunice and just happen to live in the very same house where Paul was raised by his parents.
The above story could not have been written would it not have been for the untiring generousity of my Uncle Paul. My most profound "Thank You" goes out to my Uncle Paul -- Paul Cleveland Hebert of Eunice, St. Landry Parish, Louisiana. Minimal editing has been done to enhance the clarity of the tale.Images shown in this essay are courtesy of Paul Cleveland Hebert and are his sole property.
Some "fun" photos of my Uncle Paul:
June 1977. Uncle Paul "posing" with an Aircoupe. The small single engine plane was flown in from New Orleans to Eunice by this webmaster and Uncle Paul and I did some "local sightseeing" around Acadiana. A thrilling afternoon.
June 1977. Uncle Paul "piloting" the Aircoupe. The small plane was a joy to fly and Uncle Paul enjoyed our trip. The Aircoupe eventually was lost when the owner converted the plane to aerobatic flight and crashed one day while practicing an aerobatic maneuver routine.
September 5, 2002.
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