JOHN  M.  "Mitch"  ALCORN
[With regret, Mitch Alcorn passed away on 18 February 2012, aged 90.  Highly respected by those who knew him where he lived in Lexington, Kentucky; by his fellow amtrac drivers during World War II; and by comrades in veterans organizations.  This writer found Mitch to be a font of useful information.  He was always a chipper, upbeat, articulate and encouraging person ... and was proud of his Marine heritage.  Rest in peace, Marine!  Semper Fi, Mitch.]
My hometown was Lexington, Kentucky when, at age 19, I joined the U.S. Marines. When the assault on Betio began, I was already a 20-year old amtrac driver in A-1 Company of the 2nd Amtrac Battalion.
After 67 years, it is pretty hard to remember some of the details, such as the transport I took to get from New Zealand, but I do remember being on LST-242 from Tarawa back to Hawaii.
On 20 November 1943, I was in the 3rd wave to Red Beach 2, with approximately 20 Marines on board from 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines.  My crew chief told me to get to the beach as soon as possible, and I was doing that when we began to receive fire at about 700 yards out from the beach.  Closer to the beach, we also encountered fire from a light tank on shore, but after sending just a few rounds at us, that tank ran into a shell hole and stopped firing.    Despite all that, on D-Day we were the first amtrac to land on Red Beach 2.  
An early variant of the LVT-1 (Alligator)
  Note size of this vehicle in comparison this vehicle to the person standing next to it                                  Note angled track cleats (grousers) for propulsion
USMC photo
As recently as 08 March 2011 (already into his 89th year), Mitch was active in an on-line discussion about casualties with Company “C”  2nd Amphibious Tractor Battalion and the overall battalion.  
His message: 
 “(At Tarawa there were)  Four members of Company “C”  2d Amph. Trac. Bn, who were KIA.  Three Marines and a Navy Corpsman.  They were Lt. Little, 1st Sgt. Quinn, Pvt Zazzetti and Corpsman Smith.  Lt. Little’s tractor was command tractor, the only one with a radio and tall antenna.  This made a prime target.  I do not know if all KIA were on that tractor.  The 2d Amph. Trac. Bn had 62 KIAs on Tarawa.  The Bn started with 100 LVT-1 (Alligator) and 50 LVT-2 (Water Buffalo).  When the battle was over only 13 or 14 were still operating. 
http://disc.yourwebapps.com/discussion.cgi?id=149620;article=15499
http://tarawaontheweb.org
Mitch's attention to detail and recall from events that occurred some 69 years earlier are amazing!  Other amtrac drivers referred to him as 'the historian for us drivers.'  For Mitch to say 'despite all the chaos of combat, his amtrac was the first to land on Red Beach 2' shows his ongoing sense of pride and achievement.   Well done, Mitch.  We will remember.
Three LVT-1 (Alligator) craft coming ashore at Guadalcanal, August 1942
Attack transport USS President Hayes (APA-39) in the distance
http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-usn/usnsh-p/ap39.htm
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ground/lvt.htm
LVT-2 #2-2 to Red3 Tarawa
LVT-2 (Water Buffalo) (#2-2) inbound to Red 3 Tarawa, 20 November 1943
http://disc.yourwebapps.com/discussion.cgi?disc=149620;article=15711;title=TarawaTalk
Courtesy:  Al Guerrero
LVT-2 (Water Buffalo) (#2-49) on an ammo run from at Red Beach 3 on Tarawa, 20 November 1943
http://disc.yourwebapps.com/discussion.cgi?disc=149620;article=15717;title=TarawaTalk
Courtesy:  Al Guerrero
http://worldwar2headquarters.com/HTML/museums/lvt-museum/lvt2-water-buffalo.html
For most of the next few days, my main job was to haul supplies to Marine units that were in contact with the enemy.  On the seventh day, I made my way to LST-242 and after a short wait, we made our way to Hawaii.  Eventually, we got to Camp Tarawa, but we stayed there only about two weeks because our battalion was sent inland to help with construction at the Parker Ranch and more with construction of our own camp down at the nearby beach.