Sixty-eight years ago, I enlisted in the Marine Corps from Joliet, Illinois.Sixty-seven years ago, I was in E Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment in the 2nd Marine Division, and at the Battle for Tarawa I went ashore in the 1st Wave on D-Day, 20 November 1943.
Early that morning of the attack, we had a good breakfast of steak and eggs.Some of us played cards, checked our equipment and made sure everything would work as it was intended to work.We were out on deck at the rail watching our Navy bombard Betio, and around 6AM we got to watch our dive bombers go to work.
I remember as we (about 15 in a landing craft) were going ashore that morning that we were the target for so many enemy gunners, from all sides it seemed.Thatís an incredible feeling knowing that all those people are trying to kill me!All I had was my rifle and ammo, but we who were being carried ashore in the landing craft mainly tried to hunker down as low as possible to avoid being shot.Thus, I didnít shoot at enemy soldiers from the landing craft as it bounced, dipped and moved about so much on the run in.It was scary.††
Suddenly, it was three days later and we were somewhere in the middle of the island when we were finished.††† Luckily, I was in good condition, with no wounds.I was, however, exhausted, hungry, thirsty, sunburned and filthy dirty.We were detailed for a while to bury our dead, and then we returned to a transport.††
Before Tarawa, I was also at Tulagi and Guadalcanal.And after Tarawa, I was at Saipan and Tinian.In the early 1950s I was still in the Marine Corps and was in Korea, at Inchon, Seoul, Chosin, in North Korea, too.I am 88 now, and so much of what I did back in those days seems now to be pretty dim and distant memories.
Medals I was awarded during those times include the Presidential Unit Citation for action at Tarawa, the usual theater medals given to Marines and two letters of commendation, both with ďVĒ for valor.
Bob, you are a true and dedicated Marine.Your gallantry, fortitude and devotion to duty in World War II and in the Korean War are admirable.We are proud of you and your love for our country.Thank you for your service, Bob.We will remember.
Received 29 November 2010
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