79 years ago

Bear

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From Nov. 20-23, 1943, my Grandpa and other men of the 2nd Marine Div. were fighting for their lives, after storming ashore on Tarawa Atoll in the Gilbert Islands. Nearly 6400 men, from both sides, died in the 4 day battle. My Grandpa was one of 2 survivors from his platoon.

The only story he ever told me was that when he went off the landing craft he went straight to the bottom of the ocean in 15 feet of water. He said most of his platoon drowned before ever making it to the beach. He told me that he shed his gear, made his way to the surface, and amid the complete chaos of the landing and the battle he had no idea where he was. He told me he saw a Navy Sailor, in full dress uniform, maybe 8-10 feet tall, standing on the water, pointing the way to shore. He must of noticed the incredulous look on my face, because he just stared at me and said, "that's what I saw and that's why I'm here".

Never forget.

Semper Fi

John 15:13

 

Grif

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Grif

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This is some decent footage, with some really corny narrative.

The last 20 seconds or so is haunting.....the narrative is upbeat but look at the faces of the men leaving the battle.

 

Larry Welch

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Marris, everyone knew he was a soldier but that was it. When he passed everyone found out he was highly decorated and acted above and beyond in combat.

Felix, told me once of throwing satchel bombs. Said soldiers would leave the lines running toward the enemy front, if they got cut down before it got far enough, another was sent to go get it and keep advancing it until it got where it was needed. He said he was pretty good at it, his nickname was Felix the cat. The man was small and wirery and had the strongest grip, pound for pound I've ever seen.

Burl, drove a landing craft on five separate invasions. He spoke more of the training and after the war than the war itself, understandably. He was pushed by a Co to re enlist, but he told him no thanks he was going home and find a pretty girl and get married and start a family. He did all of that.

There's a few more I've talked to through the years and I'm appreciative to have known them all. Several WW Ii, Korea, and Vietnam vets in my family but none are still around to share their knowledge or experiences forged under the stresses of combat.
 

riverrat47

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Those who were there pronounce it Terrorwa, according to a survivor who gave us a tour of the USMC museum at Quantico, VA. One of Dad's best friends was wounded there. He was a big influence on my life. Many of my mentors in the outdoor world and life were WWII veterans, and many of those were Marines.
 

rhpierce

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One of my grandfather's best friends was a Marine who survived the island-hopping campaign and multiple landings. The reward for surviving a landing and taking an island was...going to the next one, because they figured if you survived it, you had a better idea of how to survive another one. Albert was never right after that; I remember him as a good-humored "fat guy" (nicknamed Fat Albert), but my grandfather said he never was able to have a normal life.

A friend of mine related that he found out his father had won either a Bronze or Silver Star in the Pacific in WWII; he asked his dad what he had done to get the medal, and his father refused to say. The only thing he ever told him was that while on the troop ship going over there, he got bored and read the manual for the flamethrower and learned how to use it.

Another friend's grandfather flew 17's and 29's in WWII, flew in Korea, and flew in Vietnam until they finally grounded him. This friend's father was in Vietnam and has multiple Purple Hearts, etc.; my friend made a shadowbox and put some of the medals, unit patch, etc. in it and said, "Dad...you've got more in your footlocker...why don't you let me put them all on?" He said, "because these are the ones I'm proud of..." We were standing outside one day, just the three of us, working on my friend's pos vehicle (again), and he started talking about being over there, some of the guys he knew ("I wish _____________ was here...that bast**d could bench press a Jeep...he'd be a lot of help right now"), and then a couple people walked up and he just shut up. If you asked him, he was just a radioman, carrying a PRC (prick)...

God bless them all, and for every family member and story related here. Different times, and sometimes I wonder if it was just a different breed altogether.
 

stevena198301

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I have seen Guam, Wake Island and various islands of Kwajalein Atoll. I have seen the relics of some of the big coastal artillery guns used by the Japanese. I have seen the sunken ships all around the atoll. I’ve seen the aircraft hangars constructed by US contractor slaves. There is no way I can imagine myself as an 18 yo kid, storming those beaches. There isn’t many places to hide.
 

Grif

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I have seen Guam, Wake Island and various islands of Kwajalein Atoll. I have seen the relics of some of the big coastal artillery guns used by the Japanese. I have seen the sunken ships all around the atoll. I’ve seen the aircraft hangars constructed by US contractor slaves. There is no way I can imagine myself as an 18 yo kid, storming those beaches. There isn’t many places to hide.

Mostly they hid behind the bodies of their fallen comrades. It was the only available cover.
 

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