From Bagley, Wisconsin, I joined the Marines when I was 22.  I was in Company F, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment of the 2nd Marine Division when we went ashore at Tarawa, with amtracs in the 3rd wave to Red Beach 2 on D-Day, 20 November 1943.  We hit the beach at almost 0930.  
What I saw then was shocking, even for a Marine like me who had already been through Guadalcanal.
It’s a bit difficult to report now, but I will do my best with my wife’s help. Out of roughly 200 of us who went in, only 26 of us lived.   The major memory now of combat ops at Betio? Smoke, noise, cries for corpsmen, bodies all over and just plain nauseating smells.  It was hell.  I have no idea how or why I survived.  A lot of it was just plain luck. For the intervening years, those memories never left me.
Prior to Tarawa, I had been at Guadalcanal, and I was in New Zealand for rest, refit and training for Tarawa.  After Tarawa, I was in combat at both Saipan and Tinian.
In supplementary material provided by the Fralicks is a copy of an article in their hometown newspaper.  The article provides useful insights into Bud, the man … the patient, rock-solid and quiet-voiced Marine.  Verbatim, it reads:
“On December 30, 2002 a plain brown envelope was delivered by the US Postal Service to Floyd (Bud) Fralick.  After 57 years he received the medals and ribbons earned in WWII.
“He received the Purple Heart with three stars; presidential citation; good conduct; American Defense; Asiatic-Pacific; American Campaign; and World War II Victory.
“His book “A Badger by the Tale” is available at the Cassville, Bloomington and Fennimore libraries (in southwest Wisconsin).
“After being shot, stabbed and nearly blown up by a Japanese suicide bomber, this WWII soldier receives his Purple Heart.
“By most standards, Floyd Fralick should never have returned to the forested hills that serve as gatekeepers to this tiny village on the Mississippi River (Glen Haven, Wisconsin).  By most standards, he should have died alongside his battle-time brothers on the body-strewn beaches of the South Pacific islands where he fought the only nation-enemy to ever strike United States soil, the Japanese during World War II.
“Against unreasonable odds, Fralick did survive.  He lived through a pistol blast by a Japanese officer that felt like a “hot wire” snaked across his torso’s left side.  He lived through hand-to-hand combat, which once resulted in a bayonet being plunged into his lower right leg.  And he lived through an exploding ammunition depot, the violence of which left him injured on the ground covered in dirt, the bodies of less lucky soldiers close to him.
“Fralick never reported his injuries – “You made light of them,” he said – to the administrative echelons of the military, nor did his battlefield officers, many of whom Fralick outlived.  So he never received the military’s award for being injured in combat, the Purple Heart.  That is until December 3, when the prestigious medallion finally caught up with him, 57 years after he returned home from war.
“Any one of those wounds would have been rated a Purple Heart if reports of them would have been turned in,” he said of one of the military’s oldest combat medal.  “But I was glad just to be walking around.  And you get the feeling you’re not going to get out of there.”
“After serving four years, during which he stormed numerous beaches in the Solomon Island chain, fighting in five major battles, including the Battle of Tarawa, in which his company was among the first wave to storm the beach – an action that only 26 of the unit’s 202 men survived – he thumbed a ride from Hawaii to the Marine base in San Diego on a homebound aircraft carrier.
“Standing on the ship’s deck, absorbing the sight of his country’s western shore for the first time as a combat veteran, he said, was inexplicable.  “You just can’t imagine,” he continued, his eyes brimming with tears (some 57 years after that event).  Boys would be bawling.  I bawled.”
“Fralick’s family recently fought a war of their own.  After two years of assiduously lobbying the Veterans Service office in Lancaster (Wisconsin) for the medal they knew their family war hero deserved, a plain manila envelope arrived from the military’s National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis.  It contained no letter, no words of acknowledgment or gratitude.  It did contain one flip-top box and four smaller blue cardboard boxes, with inventory stickers with bar codes adhered to their exteriors.
“In the lidded box was Fralick’s Purple Heart.  Three stars, one for each of his injuries, spanned above the profile of George Washington, who implemented the medal’s dissemination during the Revolutionary War.  The smaller boxes contained other medals, including the Good Conduct Marine Corps Medal, which Fralick seemed especially proud to have earned.  ”There’s a hard one to get,” he said.
When a friend asked Fralick’s wife about who presented the medals, thinking maybe a dignitary, an officer or the governor had pinned the time-honored medals to his chest in a hall festooned with banners proclaiming the value of Fralick’s sacrifice, she said, “The mailman presented them.”
Bud, once you became a Marine, you never stopped being a Marine.  Your Marine buddies, your family and your nation are proud of you and your achievements!
Received 01 November 2010
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