I came from Haverhill, Massachusetts and joined the Marines when I was 18. With others in the Second Marine Division, I was sent in March 1943, to New Zealand for preparations for Operation Galvanic – the invasion of Tarawa.  In September, 1943, when the decision to advance on Tarawa was made, training activities for the 2nd Marine Division took on an intensified sense of purpose.
The attack transport USS Feland (APA-11) gave me my ride to Tarawa. By this time, I had turned 19.  Around midnight on 19 November 1943, I spent my last hours on board Feland having a good meal around midnight and getting all my gear ready for the imminent rendezvous on deck prior to going over the side to waiting boats.  
I was in the Regimental Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment as part of the 3rd Wave on the assault of Red Beach 2 – the landing area immediately to the west of the pier on the north side of Betio.  And what a ride that was!  That ride with about 18 others in my unit was something I’ll never forget:  I was completely confused and seasick all the way – not the best way to go into combat!
Well before actually landing, we could see and smell lots of smoke; hear large explosions; and hear and experience mortar and rifle fire.   As we approached the beach, it quickly became clear that we were a target meant for destruction, but luckily we arrived at the beach at roughly 0920.  We had a 37mm gun with us going to the beach, but while trying to off-load that, it sank and was lost to us for good.
Once we were really ashore, the smoke and noise we had seen during approach was stifling and somewhat disorienting.  The smell of dead bodies was everywhere, and a lot of guys were yelling for help from corpsmen.  Chaos reigned supreme.
Since we had lost our 37mm gun, we reformed our unit into a small rifle company.  We set out to cross the airstrip and dig in on the narrow stretch of beach between the south shore of Betio and the south edge of the airstrip – Black Beach.  Running across the airstrip, we lost three men.  We eventually made it to the south shore, roughly at the point where Black Beach 1 and Black Beach 2 met, and then we quickly spread out to five different holes each filled with three riflemen hunkering down.  
After my combat role finished, I found that I was, surprisingly, in remarkably fair condition.  I had a large infection on my left knee, but that wasn’t even battle related.  And I had no other serious injuries, either.  Eventually my unit worked our way back to the north side of the island and were taken back to the USS Zeilin for our trip to Camp Tarawa.  That is where we were sent for recuperation, refit, new equipment if that was needed and more training.
Camp Tarawa itself was great!  I found that using two yeast cakes and marmalade made the evenings pass quickly!  Good memories there!
After Tarawa, I was still in the action in the Pacific:  Saipan, Tinian, Okinawa and finally even a short stint in Nagasaki in mid-August, 1945 after the atomic bomb was dropped there.  
For medals earned during the war, I was awarded four stars in the Presidential Unit Citation (Tarawa); the Purple Heart (Saipan); and a Bronze Star with the combat V for valor for actions in other Pacific landings.  
When I got off Tarawa 67 years ago, I held some very strong and critical views about what I had seen in Operation Galvanic. At that time, I thought that battle was the largest waste of humans ever created.  I hoped Dog McArcher (aka General Douglas MacArthur) would rot in hell.  Because of him, we took a piece of the Pacific that was absolutely worthless in military terms.  
Today, I still hold those views, even more strongly than I did 67 years ago.  The world needs to know that what the press and political machines made him out to be was wrong … just plain wrong! The shameful actions of MacArthur should never be forgotten!  Far too many good men are dead now because of his ego and his mistakes.
Dex, thank you for being the Marine who proposed the creation of this roster.
Your idea is the starting point of the opportunity for so many of us to thank you and other Tarawa Marines.  This roster is an opportunity for us to show how grateful we are for service you and your fellow Marines gave to our country.  In a very real sense, like a true Marine you lead the way; the rest of us are just following your lead.
Your idea for the roster can also help some of you Tarawa Marines to reconnect with each other.  For others, this roster helps other Tarawa Marines to contact each other for the first time.   This is already happening, sometimes over the phone and sometimes in person!
Marine families, too, are probably going to just love the opportunity to see their beloved Marines still up front leading and speaking courageously.  Your idea for this roster permits us one more opportunity to say from the heart that we so proud of you and your fellow Marines.  We will remember!
Received 06 November 2010
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