At age 19, I joined the Marines from my hometown of Beverly Hills, California.  And before turning 20, I was a corpsman in 2nd Platoon, F Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment of the 2nd Marine Division.
I really can’t say which transport brought me from New Zealand to Tarawa because, all told, I was on 12 different transports before the war was over.  
In the early morning hours before disembarking from my transport, I remember having a good meal and trading my camouflage dungarees with a buddy who was afraid he was going to get killed, for his plain green ones.  He was killed.
On the morning of 20 November 1943, I was with a group of about 15 in an amtrac  in the 2nd wave heading for Red Beach 3 … to the east of the long pier jutting into the lagoon on the north shore of Betio.  Ultimately, I was supposed to go to the extreme east end of Red Beach 3.
During our approach to the beach, I remember seeing the amtrac to our left front get hit by a big shore gun and blown out of the water and body parts flying everywhere.  You just can’t forget something like that, regardless of how long a person lives.
And as we landed on the beach, I’ll never forget seeing a big (6’) Jap stripped to the waist swinging a long saber at our guys jumping out of their amtracs.  He ‘got it’ quickly!
Equipped with a carbine, its ammo and a 1st Aid kit, I was with guys who tried to get to the south side of Betio.  We tried, alright, but when we moved up over the sea wall we were obliged to retreat immediately behind it for most of the 3-day battle.  My time on Betio lasted 3 days, and at the end of the action my platoon was over at the east end of the island. Only 6 guys out of the 45 in my platoon walked off the island.  After the hell, exhaustion and sunburn of those 3 days, those of us who were able-bodied found ourselves some “R & R” on the little island next to Betio, named Bairiki.
One particular memory I still have of my time at Tarawa is my involvement with my first patient.  He had had his right leg blown off.  I put a tourniquet on him, using his belt and gave him a shot of morphine. He still died.  That was my first patient!  I lifted his leg to turn it around and my hands came up empty … except for blood, tendons and gore.  A Guadalcanal veteran had once told me, “Your first patient will be your worst!”  How right he was.  That memory will never leave me.
Camp Tarawa brings back an unusual memory:  a corporal in the tent across the way from ours brought a 37mm dud back to his tent, dropped his pack carrying the shell, and the shell blew up, taking the legs of 3 guys in his tent, killing his best friend and giving me my only wound of the war (which involved 4 battles).  How about that!  I still have the shrapnel in my leg.
By war’s end, I had participated in the campaigns at Tarawa, Saipan (1st wave on D-Day); Tinian (1st wave on D+1); and Okinawa for 10 months.
My biggest reward for all that time in the Pacific?  This 87-year old Marine says, “My “little darling” waited for me.  We got married 2 weeks after discharge and are still in love and having fun 65 years later!” Oh, and I got the Navy Commendation Medal and the Presidential Unit Citation for my duty at Tarawa.
Stan, so many Marines absolutely revere you corpsmen!  You did all you could do as a corpsman; you did the best you could during the hell of Tarawa.  So many guys are truly grateful for having had you guys in their midst.   Thank you for all your devoted and compassionate work with our Marines.  Thank you for your service to our country.
Received 05 November 2010
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