ALVIN D. FERRY
Wenatchee, Washington was my hometown when, at age 17 years and 11 months, I joined the U.S. Marine Corps.When the assault on Betio, Tarawa Atoll, began, I was 18 years and 10 months.My unit was H&S Battery, 4th Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment in the 2nd Marine Division.The Marine Corps trained me to be a surveyor, a job which meant I would go out in front of the 105mm gun and survey a line to tie each gun to that line to achieve the maximum effect when that weapon was fired.††
Looking back 67 years tends to cause memories to fade somewhat, but Iíll try.
On the attack transport ship USS Doyen (APA-1), we sailed from New Zealand on 01 November 1943, bound for Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands (the present-day Republic of Kiribati).††
USS Doyen(APA-1)
A PHOTO LINK TO USS Doyen COMES HERE SOON.
There is something remarkable about the USS Doyen.While the Battle of Tarawa was underway, the Doyen embarked Marine casualties from Betio while under attack from enemy shore batteries and enemy torpedo bomber aircraft. This vesselís service record during just 2.8 years of duty during World War II involved logging of over 100,000 miles, earning six battle stars along the way.
We arrived at Betio in the early morning darkness of D-Day, 20 November 1943.To this day I remember standing at the rail talking with my buddies and watching in the dark as our Navy ships bombarded various targets, followed in daylight by watching our aircraft on bombing and strafing runs.†† That action was tremendous to watch.We thought they had accomplished so much, but the enemy managed to hide deep in prepared bunkers and were there ready to take us on when the assault finally began.
As such, my unit was not involved directly in the waves of assaults at various beaches.Instead, our job was to distribute and receive equipment needed by Marines on Betio.†††
In a Higgins landing craft on D+1, we landed on Red Beach #1, fairly close to the Birdís Beak (the northwest corner of Betio).Just getting to shore was pretty dicey.We were targeted by some of the enemy, but we managed finally to land where we saw numerous dead Marines floating in the water.†† Besides my surveying equipment, I went ashore with a rifle, ammo, a canteen and K-rations.
When the action in the western end of Betio ended, we really had not gone inland very far because Betio was a very small place for such an intense and non-stop battle. We were very close to the 8Ē naval gun located on the southwest corner of Betio, one of several such guns that the Japanese had brought from Singapore.Several days after Betio was secured, I think it was on D+12, we were finished, and I was in good condition, no wounds.I remember being quite dirty, thirsty, sunburned, hungry and tired.††
We left Betio on a landing craft to go to the USS Sheridan (APA-51). We went back out over the coral reefs that had brought so much grief to so many guys on D-Day.On that trip, the water levels over the coral seemed to be okay.We had no problems getting to the Sheridan.
USS Sheridan (APA-51)
A PHOTO LINK TO USS Sheridan COMES HERE SOON.
The USS Sheridan took us to Hawaii, first to debark casualties and then to the Big Island of Hawaii to Camp Tarawa.There, we had a lot of good training, and I had a great liberty to Hilo.One time, we had a great rodeo where a guy named Eugene Lowry won the cow-milking contest!
After Tarawa, I served at both Saipan and Tinian.My awards include the Combat Action Ribbon; the Marine Corps Good Conduct medal; and the Presidential Unit Citation (Tarawa).I received an Honorable Discharge from the Marine Corps on 05 January 1946.††
COMBAT ACTION RIBBON
A PHOTO LINK TO THE COMBAT ACTION RIBBON COMES HERE SOON.
MARINE CORPS GOOD CONDUCT MEDAL
A PHOTO LINK TO THE MARINE CORPS GOOD CONDUCT MEDAL COMES HERE SOON.
PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION(Tarawa)
A PHOTO LINK TO THE PRESIDENTIUAL UNIT CITATION(Tarawa) COMES HERE SOON.
Now, I am almost 87 and spent many years after the War working as a surveyor in the Pacific Northwest.
Alvin, under harrowing conditions, you too had a critical job to perform that eventually produced the victory at Tarawa.Thank you for your service.We will remember.
SEMPER FI,ALVIN !
Received 19 November 2010
Return to ROSTER