Living Tarawa Veterans Project
LIVING TARAWA VETERANS ROSTER
COMMEMORATING THE 70th ANNIVERSARY
THE BATTLE OF TARAWA
★ SINCE THE PREVIOUS INSTALLMENT OF THE ROSTER, UPDATED AND NEW REPORTS INCLUDE THOSE FOR (alphabetically): . . .
John M. Alcorn
Michael A. Masters
John H. Armstrong
Henry C. Norman
Michael C. Arrand
Jerry C. Wachsmuth
Verne A. Coulthard
Joseph B. Wetzel
Elwin B. Hart
★ FOCUS OF THESE
REPORTS (randomly) : . . .
a Tarawa Marine who fought from Tarawa to occupation duty at Nagasaki;
a Tarawa Marine who brought Marines to the beachheads; + alcorn
a Tarawa Marine who served in Tennessee and was a Pioneer in the 18th Marines and camped in Shibasaki's back yard;
a Tarawa Marine who served from Pearl Harbor to both battles at Tarawa Atoll (Betio and Buariki);
a Tarawa Marine who also served from American Samoa to HQMC, private to Colonel in a 33-year USMC career;
a Tarawa Veteran who was paired with Lady Luck and FDR;
a Tarawa Veteran who helped Marines and those at home stay in touch;
a Tarawa Veteran corpsman who dispensed medicine and mercy;
a Tarawa Marine in artillery who served from Tulagi to Iwo Jima.
★ THE ROSTER HAS GROWN TO 232 NAMES;
★ THE NUMBER OF NARRATIVES HAS GROWN TO 74;
★ SEVERAL OTHERS EXIST IN DRAFT FORM AND WILL APPEAR SOON;
★ SEVERAL NARRATIVES CONTAIN ADDITIONAL PHOTOGRAPHIC OR OTHER SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION APPEARING IN THIS INSTALLMENT FOR THE FIRST TIME AND WILL APPEAR IN FUTURE INSTALLMENTS.
In World War II during the early morning hours of Saturday, 20 November 1943, the amphibious assault by the Second Marine Division (Reinforced) on the small island of Betio at Tarawa Atoll began. Now, 70 years later, we the people you Tarawa Veterans served and protected so valiantly, still remember and treasure your accomplishments during that intense and perilous battle. Also very dear to us is the memory of our other Tarawa Veterans who did not come home from Tarawa and those whose lives were immeasurably and distressingly altered because of wounds.
The sheer ferocity of the battle during a very short period of time produced some striking statistics illustrating why the Battle of Tarawa ranks so prominently among the battles our countrymen have fought in our country's 238-year history. On average, over the 76 hours of battle, based on a total of 5,668 fatalities on both sides and on an additional 2,188 Marine wounded, there was . . .
one fatality approximately every 48.3 seconds
one casualty approximately every 34.8 seconds
At great personal risk and sacrifice at Tarawa as well as prior and subsequent hard-fought battles across the Pacific, you Marines proved that we Americans will support our friends and oppose our foes, bearing any burden, to assure the survival and success of liberty. No greater love of our country could be shown by you Marines who were willing to put yourselves on the line in the surf and sand of that square mile of hell at Tarawa and elsewhere. Because of that, this grateful nation salutes you and thanks you.
At some point, you must have wondered whether what you were doing would make a successful difference in the worldwide struggle to defend freedom, liberty and justice for our nation and our allies. Emphatically, YES! you succeeded, all right! Many of you were so young when you committed to defending our nation in those early years of WWII. With many of you only 17 to 20 years of age (few were younger!), you grew up terribly fast! And now, we trust you can reflect with a healthy mixture of pride and poignancy on your actions and your successes.
You said, "Follow Me" and we have followed, sustained and inspired by your example. To all Tarawa Veterans, I acknowledge your successes in fulfilling our nation's promises to develop quality citizens and build good and competent soldiers winning our nation's battles. You veterans are superb examples of what our country can accomplish when we commit to causes greater than ourselves and commit to defending our country. You have proven yourselves ever so worthy of the moral obligation our country has to stand by you for being our country's defenders.
For your efforts at the Battle of Tarawa, as well as prior and subsequent battles across the Pacific, our country is "The Land of the Free" because of your bravery, dedication and will to win.
WELL DONE! WE SALUTE ALL OF YOU!
In the late summer of 2010 on the Tarawa Talk Forum ( http://tarawaontheweb.org ), one United States Marine, himself a veteran of Tarawa, expressed the wish that a roster of his fellow living veterans be assembled. As do veterans everywhere, he knew that war is a terror-filled crucible generating enduring memories and deep friendships. Doubtless, he wanted to know who of his comrades remain as participants in the trauma we still know as the Battle of Tarawa.
This roster is the answer to that Marine's request. That Marine is alive and well and lives in Massachusetts. He monitors content and events relating to this roster. Thanks, Dex!
This roster is an opportunity for the stories of Tarawa Veterans' memories to be shared and remembered. It affords so many of us the chance to recognize you and thank you again for your outstanding service to our country.
CRITERIA: THE LIVING TARAWA VETERANS ROSTER WILL REMAIN 'OPEN' AND ACCESSIBLE TO ALL LIVING TARAWA VETERANS WHO HAVE BEEN ALIVE SINCE THE ROSTER'S BEGINNING IN 2010. This includes Marines, Navy, Coast Guard, Seabees and Army personnel. Your heroic actions are the inspiration for this record. This roster depends on your input and will remain as a testament to your character and commitment to our country. It cannot be known when this roster will be finished.
Tarawa veterans and their families are becoming increasingly aware of this roster's existence. This appears to be happening because more questionnaires are mailed out and 'word of mouth' information sharing spreads the news about the roster's existence.
Readers are invited to scan the roster's list of names and access personal narratives to glimpse at and discover veterans' memories of their experiences at Tarawa in late November 1943.
When you or your families or your fellow veterans of Tarawa hear of this roster, please contact John Oberg to have your name, unit and personal thoughts added to this growing tribute. Please familiarize yourselves with the criteria above for getting on this roster.
Tarawa Veterans, this roster is for you and for the ages. You passed the torch of freedom to younger generations of Americans. Tempered by your example in war, we who followed grasped that torch and carried it proudly and successfully during the nearly 50 years of the Cold War. We have since passed on that torch to your children's children who also recognize and give meaningful expression to our shared and ancient heritage. We are proud of you. We are committed to following in your footsteps and to being faithful transmitters of your story to future generations.
From this Cold War veteran who is also related to a World War II Marine veteran of Guadalcanal, Tarawa and a casualty at Saipan, I say to you venerable Tarawa Veterans that we truly are a band of brothers because we have shared similar experiences, though in different generations, while defending our country. We are brothers forever! In other words
SAEPE EXPERTUS, SEMPER FIDELIS, FRATRES AETERNI
(Often Tested, Always Faithful, Brothers Forever)
Occasional delays in producing this installment inevitably occur. In advance, I thank you for your patience. To be fair to all, progress is determined on a 'first come, first served' basis. As the sole worker on this project, I depend on your patience.
HOW TO ACCESS THE ROSTER1. Click open the roster link - to peruse names currently entered
UNDERSTANDING THE ROSTER
CONTENT is based on information supplied by Tarawa Veterans. Your responses to the questionnaire are the information base on which narratives are written.
HYPERLINKS give access to narrative stories of Tarawa Veterans and, within narratives, access to additional information. The absence of a hyperlink means either that information has not yet been received from a Tarawa Veteran OR the Tarawa Veteran chooses not to send information.
UNIT NAMES are entered as presented by Tarawa Veterans themselves. The term "x-x-x" indicates the veteran's unit name has not yet been received OR the person submitting information for a veteran does not know the veteran's unit designation.
ESTIMATES exist suggesting between 600 and 1300 Tarawa Veterans could be on this roster as it grows.
ERRORS do not happen intentionally! If in a statement, a Marine's unit ID or a name spelling is in error, I ask that that Marine, a family member or a buddy from his unit please contact me at John Oberg
ASTERISKS (*) are used denoting the known passing of one of our Tarawa Veterans.
David Brown - Executive Director of the Second Marine Division Association, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina;
Jim Browne - Korean War-era Marine veteran and Charter Commandant of The Camp Tarawa Museum and Educational Center, on The Big Island of Hawai'i (Camp Tarawa Detachment Marine Corps League #1255) (http://www.camptarawamcl.com);
Dennis Covert - U.S. Navy, Vietnam-era veteran; avid WWII historian; several trips to South / Central Pacific islands exploring WWII battlefields; enthusiastically involved in the Honor Flight Network (http://www.honorflight.org);
Vic Cromarty - certified Mac computer technician who keeps the software and hardware going;
Stan Gajda - well-known WWII historian and battlefields researcher; long-time resident on numerous Pacific islands;
Shirley George - wife of Robert George, USMC; Tarawa Veteran from A-1-10; who contributed names of many Tarawa Veterans; who sadly passed away 30 October 2013 and is missed by many of the Tarawa Talk Forum community;
Joan Ellis - New Zealand author; strong and faithful supporter who keeps the memory alive of our Marines who were stationed near Wellington beginning in June 1942; she is active in setting up a Memorial Trust for a museum in the Paekakariki Railway Station to ensure our Marines will never be forgotten. She writes, "The Marines have never been forgotten by the people of this country."
Joan, kia ora, kia pai to ra!
Kathy Painton - Historian involved in Public Affairs at The Camp Tarawa Museum and Educational Center, on The Big Island of Hawai'i (Camp Tarawa Detachment Marine Corps League #1255) (http://www.camptarawamcl.com);
Roy Roush - USMC (1942-1946) and USAF (1950-1954); Tarawa Veteran from 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines; author, historian, journalist, Member of Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Association;
Jon Stevens - creator and webmaster of Tarawa on the Web and the Tarawa Talk Forum (http://tarawaontheweb.org).
John Stofiel - Vietnam War-era Marine veteran and Public Affairs Officer of the Pacific Northwest Region Marine Corps League;
Tarawa veterans and their families and friends as word of the roster's existence spreads;
Dave Traynor - who, with imagination and skill, designed the interactive capability of this Living Tarawa Veterans Roster.
MY SPECIAL THANKS TO ALL THESE PEOPLE
John C. Oberg 10 November 2013
copyright 2010 T.O.T.W.
Created 20 November 2010 - Updated 26 April 2014