From Hugo, Oklahoma, I enlisted in the U.S. Marines when I was 18, well before the attack on Pearl Harbor.  From the standpoint of 67 years, even though it is not easy to recall specific events that happened so long ago, I’ll give it a try.  
I was in A Company, 1st Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, in the 2nd Marine Division.  We came from New Zealand to Tarawa on the attack transport USS Heywood (APA-6).  
USS Heywood  (APA-6)
We were anchored quite a way from Betio, and the night before the attack came, I remember having a good meal and getting my gear together and making sure everything worked as it should before going to our embarkation areas. With some of my buddies, I remember standing out on deck watching a sustained shelling of targets on Betio by US Navy ships off shore.  It was an amazing sight!
At Tarawa, our unit was in the 3rd wave on Red Beach 2.  We were an artillery section, and none of us enjoyed the ride to the pier area.  It was awful.  Enemy fire came at us from nearly all directions, and it was almost impossible to duck down far enough to avoid being hit.  We took some casualties, and a few of us were just plain lucky.  Even the tide worked against us, and our LCVP Higgins boat got hung up on the reef.  This forced us to get out of the Higgins and into an amtrac going by … all while under fire from the enemy!  
LCVP (Higgins Boat)
LCVP (Higgins Boat)
And then things got a lot worse.  Our objective was to engage the enemy whenever, wherever and however.  On landing at Red 2, we immediately took cover behind a seawall made of palm tree logs.  My memory of the smell of rotting flesh and the sight of defenders who were blasted by flamethrowers is still with me.  All around us smoke and the noise of explosions and constant cries for help from corpsmen were everywhere.  It was just plain awful.
After about a day, we managed to break out from behind the seawall, but I still remember a day or so after that something happened that should not have happened.  At one point, we were supposed to draw back and let an Army unit cover our positions and our withdrawal.  But those Army guys ahead of us got into a squabble about who was to cover us. In the end, their squabble left us unprotected and the Japanese streamed through us attacking at dawn.  We got hit hard.
By the time most of the fighting had stopped, I had moved across a road and was taking two wounded Marines with me to an ammunition dump.  There we came under fire and I got hit pretty bad. Finally, I was removed to the beach and was then taken to a hospital ship.
By war’s end, I had managed to survive three brutal campaigns, and each one of those battles was a horrific story in itself.  I really believe that the gift of life is to be far more treasured than medals, but what medals I did received included the Purple Heart; the Navy Cross; the Presidential Unit Citation (Tarawa); and several others.
For the reader, a more complete record and a clearer picture of Ray’s faithful and courageous service to our country is evidenced here with a verbatim copy of Ray’s Navy Cross citation for heroic and selfless action while in A Company, 3rd Battalion, 10th Marines at the Battle of Saipan on 07 July 1944:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Raymond H. Forbus (295132), Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty while serving with Battery A, Third Battalion, Tenth Marines, SECOND Marine Division, during action against enemy Japanese forces on Saipan, Marianas Islands, 7 July 1944.  During a fierce enemy counterattack, Corporal Forbus observed two wounded Marines lying in an open field which was in danger of being occupied by the Japanese.  Unhesitatingly leaving his covered position, he braved intense hostile machine-gun and rifle fire to go to their aid and, although seriously wounded, succeeded in effecting their rescue.  His courage and devotion to duty reflect the highest credit upon Corporal Forbus and the United States Naval Service.
SPOT AWARD, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific:  Serial 9468
Home Town:  Hugo. Oklahoma
To the reader, the Navy Cross is the highest medal awarded by the United States Department of the Navy, and it is the second highest award after the Congressional Medal of Honor emblematic of the highest military ideals and virtues.   The context of the situation for which Ray Forbus was awarded the Navy Cross needs to be shown so that the reason why Ray is held in such high esteem by our country is better appreciated.
The source of this context comes from Dean Ladd’s commendable book Faithful Warrior (Naval Institute Press, 2009; pp. 163 -186).  With prodigious research, Ladd provides a first-hand report of events during the Japanese counterattack north of Tanapag town on Saipan’s west coast on 07 July 1944.  Excerpts here of Ladd’s book focus on heroic and harrowing experiences resulting in the deaths of over 4,000 Japanese and some 500 Americans.  
In just the area where Ray Forbus almost lost his life, Ladd estimates one Marine battery alone - H Company, 3rd Battalion, 10th Marines - suffered 152 casualties, with 75 killed and 76 wounded.  In the open ground immediately in front of this battery’s guns, Ladd estimates some 600 Japanese fatalities, with another 2,500 Japanese dead found in the cane field and in the nearby ravine.
The Japanese action was a gyokusai attack – a suicidal assault believed to be honorable by those so engaged.  Gyokusai itself is a euphemism for “shattered jade,” implying a certain powerlessness to protect body and spirit that results when the normal warrior traits of power, courage, and invincibility have been overcome. Given that jade itself in some cultures symbolizes courage, compassion, inner peace, balance, love and the power to protect body and spirit, “shattered jade” acknowledges the opposite – that courage, compassion, inner spirit and power to protect no longer exist or, at least, no longer operate in the life of the person engaged in a gyokusai attack.  Such attacks were launched to avoid surrender and dishonor.  They were a means of “saving face” when a person could no longer maintain good self-image.   Ordered by the Imperial General Headquarters, Japanese soldiers were meant to kill as many of the enemy as possible and then be prepared to die with a sense of fulfillment, satisfaction and devotion to their emperor. As such, Japanese soldiers engaged in a gyokusai attack no longer had an incentive to live; hopelessness and the realization that their life had run its course were their preeminent concerns. That singularly deadly focus is what energized Japanese soldiers who engaged in what many historians of World War II view as the largest scale and most devastating such attack by Japanese during the war. Ladd’s description follows.
The attack began on the night of 6 July in typical Japanese fashion, with patrols probing our perimeter for weak spots. First contact was signaled by smatterings of gunfire and grenade explosions all along the line.  Hard on their heels came the main body of the enemy force, conducting what would become the largest banzai attack of the war.   They advanced in three columns.  The smallest pushed down the beach at the water’s edge.  Another drove along the base of the cliff that bounded the Tanapag Plain on the east.  The largest force came right down the middle, advancing along a narrow-gauge railroad that ran parallel to the sea on a low embankment about three-quarters of a mile inland. 
The enemy slammed into … two Army battalions and poured through the gap separating them.  Positioned some six hundred yards to the rear of the army units … were four 105mm guns of Hotel (H) Battery, 3/10 Marines.  Rodney Sandburg, a twenty-year-old private, first class in the battery’s instrument section, was on duty in what was known as the “exec pit” when the shooting started.  Sandy is my principal source for what happened to the men of H Battery in the desperate hours that followed.
Army commanders had specifically requested H Battery, because it was more accurate than their own batteries – which, as I had learned through personal experience, could be dangerously unreliable.  
“We had no inkling of what was to come,” Sandy said.  “None whatsoever.”
At dusk, Sandy went into the exec pit for the night’s first shift … (and was joined by) 1st Lt. Arnold C. Hofstetter, the battery’s executive commander.
With darkness descending on their position and Japanese sniper fire steadily increasing in volume and intensity, Hofstetter (ordered the set-up of) … two .50 –caliber machine guns in front of their position, one on each flank. (He also ordered the set-up of) two .30-caliber machine guns south of the road in the battery’s rear, to guard the storage dump.
The machine gun on the right (near the railroad tracks) was a big .50-caliber weapon manned by Pvt. Don Holzer and Pvt. Harold Hoffman.  It was set up on a knoll overlooking the ravine that cut across the rear of the cane field (about three acres in size).  The cane in front of them stood four or five feet high, and their field of fire was patchy:  forty to fifty yards in some places, a mere ten yards in others.  There were several small bridges across the ravine, but all had been blown out.  Holzer and Hoffman were out in the open, but mounds of dirt and cut cane stalks and debris around their position afforded some protection.  They were all alone, with no riflemen to provide close support.  Nor could they communicate with the battery; everyone had been too busy preparing the main position and setting up the 105s before nightfall to lay the phone line.
After dark, the Japanese began massing in the ravine.  Holzer and Hoffman could hear them talking, hollering, making a lot of noise, and all the while shooting up white parachute flares that floated through the air for twenty seconds or so, bathing the area in light.  The two Marines couldn’t see the Japanese, but they figured the Japanese could see them clearly in the light of the flares.    This went on for hours: flares popping overhead, one after the other, drifting down on parachutes.  “All that time the noise kept getting louder and louder.  There wasn’t any shooting. Just the noise: the Japanese yelling.”
At length … the noise reached a sort of crescendo, indicating that the Japanese were about to attack, and (the Marines) opened fire.  “There were no visible targets.  We just depressed the muzzle and fired into the noise, fired into the darkness in the ravine.  We knew we were hitting them – we could hear them screaming.  We thought we were about to be overrun.  It was clear to us what the problem was:  they could see us but we couldn’t se them.  But they still were not firing at us at this point.”  
According to Sandy, “It was about nine o’clock at night, nine-thirty, when all hell broke loose out in front of our battery, and one of the machine guns started firing.”  The other machine gun joined in a few seconds later. 
Meanwhile, Don Holzer and Harold Hoffman were blasting away at their so-far invisible foes, firing down into the darkness, into the tall cane; traversing the barrel from side to side and back again, firing short burst and long bursts and intermediate bursts; firing and reloading and firing again.  The big gun roaring and bucking on its tripod, spewing long, ragged jets of fire from the muzzle, throwing hot shell casings to one side.  The air thick with the smoke and smell of their firing and illuminated by the strange white light of the flares.  The Japanese screaming and howling, working themselves into a frenzy.
At length, with dawn’s first light graying the sky, the Japanese stopped sending up flares.  Holzer and Hoffman kept firing into the cane.  And then -
All of a sudden we heard a rustling sound behind us.  We turned around and three Japanese, big guys were standing about ten or fifteen feet from our position.  They didn’t have rifles but they did have grenades and they started tossing them at us.  I grabbed the tripod and tipped the gun over so they couldn’t use it.  Then I grabbed my carbine and dove into the heavy grass and pulled the trigger.  But the carbine was jammed.  When I hit the ground I must have hit the clip and pushed I on into the chamber and damaged it.
They jumped us then.  Two of them jumped us; the third one, I have no idea where he went.  I threw down my carbine and pulled out my KA-BAR.  The guy who attacked me, he didn’t have a weapon; he came at me and grabbed me.  I went for his gut.  I got him several times, at least three thrusts.  I can still see the expression on his face.  He knew he was gone.  He knew he was licked.  Surprised, like.  He didn’t say a word.  He didn’t gasp or shout.  He was quiet. And then he went down. 
(Ladd concludes that “this) encounter probably marks the beginning of the Japanese assault on H Battery.  By then the Japanese had surrounded the guns:
It was just starting to get light when Swede Larson came in the exec pit and relieved me.  I took my carbine and started out of the exec pit.  There was a guy in a foxhole right outside the door, and he said, “Sandy, be quiet; there’s Japs on the road.”  I looked out on the road and there’s a Jap tank about thirty-five or forty feet from us.  There were Japanese infantrymen walking in front of it, five abreast, a whole platoon of them.  There were more behind it.  I was standing in full sight of them, but it was still just dark enough where they couldn’t recognize me as a Marine.  They could see somebody standing there, but they couldn’t see whether I was a Marine or one of them.
(A) Japanese tank and its infantry screen approached from the ocean side, heading east on the road toward the railway embankment, spearheading the force assaulting from Marpi Point down the beach road.  A couple of dozen yards behind the tank marched another large group of Japanese soldiers.  Some fifty yards to their rear, on the other side of the brush and trees fringing that part of the road, Sand could hear a second tank approaching.  The infantry men in both groups “were oblivious to our location and were marching slow and in step, just like they were on a parade ground.”
Gun 1’s telephone operator (asked) for permission to turn their gun toward the tank. “Do it,” said Hofstetter.  Sandy stepped out of the tent and watched as the crew manhandled their gun into position, pushing and pulling its trails until it pointed at the tank.  Then the gunner yanked the lanyard and the gun roared, scoring a hit dead center in the hull of the tank as it started to crawl up onto the railway embankment.
The tank abruptly halted.  For what “seemed an eternity” nothing happened.  Then an internal explosion rocked the vehicle, spinning the turret around so the main gun was pointing backward; that is, down the road toward the sea.  The Japanese infantry in front of and behind the tank scattered, most of them … in the direction of the storage dump.
In the next instant Sandy heard somebody shout, “Look out there in front!”
And I looked out there toward the cane field and, holy crap, here comes a line of Japanese at us. They were shoulder to shoulder and the line extended all the way across the field.  It looked like the Japanese had been crawling in the cane and all of a sudden they just stood up.  I know now that they came out of the woods behind the field and went down through the ravine at the back end of the field.  When they came walking up out of the ravine it looked like they were just popping up out of the ground in the cane field.
Hofstetter ordered the guns to fire at will.  Moretti transmitted the order to the gun crews, and they responded within seconds, using their ready-to-fire shells.  They cut the fuses to create airbursts at minimum range, thereby putting themselves at risk of being struck by their own shrapnel. But they had no choice, given the enemy’s proximity.  Thus, a mere four-tenths of a second after the gunners pulled their lanyards, the shells exploded above the onrushing Japanese, felling many of the enemy with fragments that also sprayed the guns and their crews.   Despite the carnage in their ranks the Japanese kept coming.
Don Holzer and Harold Hoffman were still out in front of the battery when the guns commenced firing.  They were hotfooting back to the battery, heading in the approximate direction of Gun 1.  The shells from their own guns were exploding above and behind them, but neither man was hit and Don didn’t notice the flying shrapnel; his only thought was to get back to the battery position.  The Japanese swarmed everywhere around them.  The two Marines made their way along the railroad embankment, pausing briefly to catch their breath beside a blown-out bridge spanning a narrow ravine.  Suddenly several Japanese came around the corner of the bridge.  Don stood face-to-face with one of the enemy soldiers:  “We were maybe three feet from each other!”  Forgetting that his carbine was jammed, he raised his weapon at the man and pulled the trigger.  “It went click.”  Another misfire.
Then I grabbed it by the barrel and started clubbing him over the head.  He didn’t have a helmet on.  He went down.  Then I looked over at Harold, about ten or fifteen yards from me.  He’d also been fighting hand to hand with a Jap and had killed his man.  We signaled each other that we were going to go through this little ravine that the bridge crossed over and get back to the battery area, where the guns were.  
There were lots of Japanese around us, hundreds.  We ran right through them.  They were just standing around, milling about.  We ran as fast as we could.  I think we surprised them.  I don’t think they noticed us until we were past them.  Basically, we ran through the Japanese army.  I got very close to where the guns were, and there was a big root from a dead tree, and I dove over it, and at that point I was hit.  I was hit while I was diving.  I recall reaching up in the air to grab my arm where I’d been hit.  It was more of a shock than it was painful.
Meanwhile, the gun crews were working at a furious pace.  They had quickly expended their meager stocks of ready-to-fire shells and were now firing charge 7 shells straight from the cloverleafs.  There was no time to reduce the charges or to cut the fuses to create airbursts.  Sandy recalled that they “couldn’t get the shells out of the cloverleafs fast enough.”
I was removing the shells from the cloverleafs and handing them to the loader to place into the breech of the gun.  As fast as we got a round out of the box it was put right into the gun and the gunner pulled the lanyard.  The gunners had the tubes angled down pretty low, firing at the ground.  I’m not sure how far in front of us the shells traveled before they hit the ground – not far at all, really.  The shells would hit the ground and then they’d ricochet up in the air and explode.
One wave would pop up out of the ravine and come at us and we’d fire and they’d all go down and by then another wave would pop up and be coming at us.  It was just like in a shooting gallery.  Some of them didn’t have rifles; they came at us carrying sticks with bayonets and knives tied to them.  They weren’t running; they were walking, sort of hurrying along, hundreds and hundreds of them.  They weren’t yelling; they weren’t shouting, “Banzai.”  Or if they were I didn’t hear them.  Because when those big guns go off you don’t hear anything else.
The Marines were also taking heavy casualties “Dropping like flies,” is how Sandy put it, cut down by shrapnel blowing back from their own exploding shells or shot down by the Japanese.  The valor of these men cannot be overstated.  They were completely exposed, with no cover whatsoever, and yet they stayed with their guns, doing their jobs with cool, workman-like detachment until they were either too badly hurt to continue or they were dead.
Japanese forces were also attacking from the rear.  Resisting them were all battery personnel not directly involved in firing the guns, including the battery clerks, cooks, and drivers – men who normally did not go anywhere near a battlefield.  They were lightly armed – for the most part with carbines – and ammunition was scarce.  They too put up a gallant fight.  The second tank that Sandy heard, but did not see, had driven through them but was knocked out between the railroad tracks and the farmhouse where the (Fire Direction Center) tent was located, probably by headquarters personnel.  Sandy knew that the Japanese were behind them, but he was much too busy to worry about them.  
Just then the Japanese onslaught struck H Battery and broke on the position like a mighty wave, flowing over the Marine foxholes and around the guns.  Suddenly the Japanese were everywhere - in front of the battery, behind it, on both flanks - and more were coming at the Marines from the cane field, wave after successive wave rising out of the ravine, emerging from the very ground itself like the spawn of the dragon’s teeth.
With the battery’s position collapsing, Hofstetter gave the only order he could in the circumstances: “Every man for himself!” he bellowed.  “Get the hell out of here!  Every man for himself!  Every man for himself!”  
After Don Holzer was shot while diving over the tree root, he lay where he fell for a few minutes.  Finally a corpsman got to him.
I was shot in the left shoulder, from behind, right through (the) ball joint.  The entry wound was lower than my shoulder, but the bullet went up through the ball joint and came out there.  The corpsman gave me a pill and I had foam all over my mouth from it - and then he was hit.  He was kneeling beside me, and he just fell over, dead.
Harold Hoffman was hit at the same time. He was just a few feet from me.  I saw him get hit, but just for a split second.  He went down.  I had no idea how badly he was hit but I assumed that he was done for.  I was right.  I was later told he died from loss of blood, not from being shot.
I knew I had to move back. There was too much open space where I was at and that bothered me.  There was a gravel road about twenty yards from where I was hit, and heavy woods behind that.  I wanted to get into those woods.  So I took off my gear and tossed anything I could get rid of – I wanted to be free of the weight when I made a run for it.  I looked to the left and there was a Jap tank up there on the road, and I looked to the right and a Jap tank was down there on the road too.
The tanks were facing each other and there was about eighty yards between them – one was forty yards to my left, the other forty yards to my right.  There was no infantry.  I took my chance and got up and ran across the road right between them.  I don’t think they fired at me, but I don’t know.
The road wasn’t that wide; I probably took four or five steps and threw myself in the ditch on the other side.  Then I crawled back to where I could see some big boxes, the ones filled with airplane parts.  It was daylight by this time and I could see bodies all over the place.  I found other wounded men there, but the only ones I really knew were Pat Linder and Ray Forbus.
(Marines) fought all morning using Japanese rifles and ammo.  More men were hit, and more were killed.  J.B. Mills, lying beside Sandy, took a bullet between the eyes and died instantly.  Sandy and other Marines nearby pushed Mills into the foliage.  They did this with all of their dead, because the bodies bloated quickly in the heat.
Japanese dead lay all around them too.  Every now and again another Japanese soldier approached … the Japanese may not have known about the Marines in the storage dump, but that didn’t make the Marines’ situation any less perilous.  The air was thick with flying metal:  bullets and shells and shell fragments.  Lying next to Sandy on his stomach was P. Sgt. Richard Mathews; a piece of shrapnel came sailing in and “hit him in his butt.”  The metal passed through the soft flesh and struck the stock of Sandy’s Japanese rifle between his arm and face, gouging a sizable chunk out of the stock.  
Don Holzer lay near Sandy, unable to fire a rifle because of the damage to his shoulder.  “There were maybe nine or ten wounded men right near me,” Don said, “and we were all pretty well shot up.  Ray Forbus had his left shoulder blown out, and the only thing left was his skin connecting his arm to his shoulder; he wanted Pat Linder, also wounded, to cut his arm off, but Pat wouldn’t do it.”
The Japanese were all around us.  We saw one in a tree and he was shooting at us.  Pat Linder was hit again at that point.  He swore like everything.  He was hit five times before someone took the sniper out.  But he survived!
It had rained and there was a tarp there and there was water in it.  We were all very thirsty.  I had a plastic waterproof cigarette case, and I took out the cigarettes and threw them away and we used it as a drinking cup.  I passed the cigarette case around and everyone drank from it.  I took a drink and then vomited all over.  The rest of the day I was falling in and out of consciousness.  I don’t remember much.  
I would say I was hit at daybreak or thereabouts, and that we were rescued sometimes late in the day.  Someone put me on a stretcher and I was taken to a truck.  But not before I heard someone say, “You might as well leave Holzer, he’s dead anyhow.”  Bob Edwards was sitting on the gate of a truck and they had him move over so they could put my stretcher on the deck.  I wasn’t in pain, just in shock.  The next think I knew I was in a hospital or an aid station and they were cutting my clothes off.
Soon after Sandy’s rifle stock was hit the fighting slackened, at least in their immediate vicinity.  The human tsunami had passed over them.  The all-out attack they expected never materialized.  The Marines in the (storage) dump could not know it, but by then the enemy offensive was running out of steam.  The valiant defense mounted by H Battery before it was overrun surely deserves a lion’s share of credit for slowing the Japanese, who lost many men and much of their momentum in the attack.  The destruction of H Battery was a “victory” from which the Japanese would not recover.
But the battle was far from over.
Around 1300 the Marines in the storage dump heard the throaty roar of tank engines on the coast road below them.  Sandy said to Hofstetter that they sounded like American tanks. Hofstetter agreed but had doubts that Americans were operating them.  “The scuttlebutt is, the Japanese have got some of our tanks,” he said. Sandy … and Hofstetter agreed the tanks were crewed by Americans.  Sandy said that he was willing to go down to the road to get help for the men in the (storage) dump.
Hofstetter considered Sandy’s offer.  “Would you do that?” he asked.
“Sure,” said Sandy.
“You don’t have to go, you know.”
“No, I’ll go; it’ll be okay.” 
Sandy felt confident that he could again make it safely to the beach road.  He hadn’t run into the Japanese on his first trip to and from the road and was reasonably certain that he would not encounter any on this trip.  He was across the road from the farmhouse that stood to the west of Gun 4 when he spotted several Japanese kneeling in a ditch on the other side of the road.  They didn’t have rifles but they had plenty of grenades, which they proceeded to fling at him.  
Sandy dove to the ground, scrambling to pick up the grenades and hurl them back at the Japanese: “As fast as they threw the grenades at me I would throw them back.”  Some of the grenades burst in midair, others exploded among the Japanese.  After one explosion his enemies screamed, evidently wounded by the blast.  Realizing the danger to themselves from their own fragmentation grenades, they started throwing concussion grenades at Sandy.
The third concussion grenade they threw hit him in the helmet, bounced off, and landed on the ground in front of him.  He was reaching for it when it exploded.
Then a strange thing occurred.  I felt like I was floating in the air but I could see myself, my body, lying face-down on the ground.  Across the road I saw two Japs helping a third going into the farmhouse.  A fourth Jap lay motionless on the north side of the road.  And off in the distance there was a big bright light.  It was like I was in a tunnel, and it looked like the light was coming closer and closer to me; then it would back off, and then it would come again, and then back off again.  I don’t know how long this went on.  It seemed like a long time.  But it was the most serene and peaceful time in my entire life.
Eventually the pulsating bright light receded and vanished, and Sandy suddenly found himself back on the ground crawling down to the beach road. 
Sandy made his way back to the storage dump.  A few minutes after he arrived, the defenders heard a burst of gunfire to the south and the sound of a tank approaching from the same direction.  The tank hove into view, another Sherman, but it was a Marine tank, and a platoon of Marines walked behind it.  Sandy and the unwounded men quickly pushed aside the crates to make an opening in their barricade, and the tank and the infantry came on through.
Not long after the appearance of the Marine tank Hofstetter asked Sandy if he thought he could make it back to regimental headquarters to request ambulances for the wounded.  Sandy told him that he would sure try.  
Walking east on the road behind H Battery’s position, he came to the railroad tracks and encountered a jeep…from H Battery, and in front passenger seat sat Lieutenant Fletcher from the battery’s instrument section.  Two H Battery Marines sat in the back seat.  One was Cpl. Ralph Mills, older brother of J.B. Mills, who had been shot between the eyes while lying next to Sandy in the storage dump.  Ralph had been in charge of one of the guns and had taken off across the road when Hofstetter had shouted, “Every man for himself.”  He had made it back to the rear and had now returned to find his brother.
The jeep stopped, and Fletcher got out and asked Sandy where he was headed.  Sandy told him he was going to 10th Marines headquarters to see whether he could get some ambulances and trucks brought to the (storage) dump to collect the wounded.  Fletcher said that Sandy could have his jeep and told the other men to get out.  Sandy approached Fletcher and said quietly, “I’m not going to tell Ralph, but his brother got killed up there.  You’re going to have to tell him.”  The lieutenant said he would.  Sandy got into the jeep, and the driver turned around and started back to the regimental headquarters with Sandy feeling “safe for the first time that day.”
The 10th Marines HQ was located on a hillside just above Tanapag town, in a driveway leading up to what was left of a basement garage and the ruins of the house that stood over it.  Reporting directly to Col. Raphael Griffin, commander of the 10th Marines, Sandy told him what H Battery had been through, explained the present situation of the men in the storage dump, and requested immediate transportation for the wounded.  The colonel issued orders for all units under his command to dispatch every available vehicle to the regimental HQ.  “I want those vehicles moving by the time you acknowledge this message,” he told his unit commanders over the phone.  “If I don’t see any trucks or ambulances here real quick, heads are going to roll.”
A few minutes later Sandy saw all manner of vehicles – trucks, ambulances, jeeps –streaming up from the south on every negotiable road, track, and trail. But they could not come quickly enough for Colonel Griffin.  After the first several vehicles had arrived, congregating at the foot of the driveway, Griffin exchanged his jeep for Sandy’s and led that group to the storage dump.  A few minutes later, a second convoy departed with the headquarters officer leading the way in his jeep.  Sandy left shortly thereafter in Griffin’s jeep.  
He arrived at the (storage) dump to find the wounded being placed aboard the trucks that had preceded him.  Typically, Sandy pitched in to help, despite being in tremendous pain himself.  He watched as the badly wounded Ray Forbus was placed on a stretcher.  Ray cried out and Sandy saw that his arm lay on the ground but was still attached to his shoulder by a string of flesh.  “I hollered at them and they stopped and I ran over and picked his arm up and I put it across his chest and held it there while they walked him over and put him on the truck.  And off to the hospital they went.”
A while later the battery’s trucks returned from delivering the wounded to the hospitals and aid stations, driving up the road behind the guns.  Sandy joined a group comprising men from the entire regiment to help hitch the guns to the trucks.  H Battery’s dead lay all around them, but orders were given to leave them where they lay for collection the next day.  While the Marines were hooking up the guns, three Japanese holed up in the farmhouse north of Gun 4 – the same men Sandy had fought the grenade-tossing duel with a few hours earlier – poked their rifles out the windows and started shooting.  They were too far away to his anyone, but that mattered little to the Marines in Sandy’s group.  Most of them had not been with the battery when it was overrun, and the presence of those Japanese combined with the sight of their dead comrades enraged them.  Thirsting for revenge, they started toward the house, only to be recalled by their officers who told them that the infantry would deal with the problem.
Many of the (Marine) bodies were unrecognizable, and Sandy and the others had to reach into the bloody remains for the dog tags that would identify them.  Discovering which one of their friends each charred and mangled corpse had been, inflicted wounds on the survivors of H Battery that would never fully heal.  What Sandy described as a “horrible traumatic experience” would haunt every one of them, in some form or another, for the rest of their days.  
Although Sandy didn’t fully realize it at the time, he had also suffered tremendous physical trauma.  Shortly after the final battle on Saipan he began to have blackout spells and related episodes that seemed to indicate that he had sustained significant neurological damage.  Initially the diagnosis was “combat fatigue,” but further examination revealed that he had suffered a broken neck from the grenade explosion that had caused his “out-of-body experience.”  He eventually made a full recovery.
As the reader now knows, Ray Forbus was one of many Marines caught up in that gyokusai attack on American positions at Saipan in early July 1944, roughly seven months after his involvement in the Battle of Tarawa.  Now at age 88, Ray relives these events just as intently as he lives for his fellow Marines.   Once a Marine, Always a Marine!
Frankly [Ray continues], I have tried hard to forget Tarawa ever happened, but my wounds are a constant reminder. I have had no difficulty, though, remembering my friends who also served those long ago days in the Pacific, especially men like Bob George, Charlie Fenolio, Frank Kern, Dave Estes, Chris Hinzo and Ed O’Brien.
Ray, you put forth your best effort at Guadalcanal, Tarawa and Saipan.  Your friends and family remember and treasure your service and dedication.  After Tarawa, your combat experiences at Saipan still tell an even more amazing story.  Pain from wounds and pain from memories have taken their toll, but we as a country are the beneficiaries of your effort, courage and sacrifice.  Your true measure as a man is the steadfast resolve you have brought to some of the most serious challenges a human being could be expected to face.  For all that, we thank you … We salute you … We will remember!
Semper Fi to your friends from those days long ago . . .
Received 18 November 2010
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