When I was 18, I joined the Marine Corps.  I was from Portland, Missouri, a very small town of a couple hundred on the Missouri River about 80 miles west of St. Louis.  My life sure changed when I enlisted!  Within two years, I had already been in and out of both Guadalcanal and New Zealand and was headed for Tarawa in Operation Galvanic. I was in D Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines in the 2nd Marine Division.
My unit and I were taken to Tarawa on the attack transport USS Sheridan (APA-51). Our unit left New Zealand on 01 November 1943; participated in amphibious training exercises at Efate Island (in present-day Republic of Vanuatu) for two days and departed Efate on a 7-day journey to Tarawa, arriving off Betio in the early morning hours of 20 November. Prior to the actual assault on Betio, I remember sharpening knives, talking with other guys and checking equipment.  Actually, I was excited about what we were about to get into – Helen!  Those of you who were there won’t forget what that codeword referred to!  Maybe I was just a bit excited because our landing at Tarawa was my second real amphibious assault on enemy-held territory, Guadalcanal being the first.
When the action began at Betio, an islet at Tarawa Atoll, on 20 November 1943, I had my pack; extra socks; my carbine and a .45 pistol; ammo; and a canteen with water.  I thought I was ready.   My unit went ashore on D+1, but these days – 67 years after the fact – I don’t remember too many details.  My one goal was simply to stay alive, and, yes, I am alive now to talk about this, but I was wounded even before I could get ashore.  I was finally helped to shore where I remained for about one hour before being evacuated right back to the USS Sheridan.  That may have been the shortest battle in history!
That wound put me out of action for the rest of the war.  I received a Purple Heart and eventually was honorably discharged.  
Now at age 87, I look back on that experience at Tarawa, and I know now how badly things turned out there for my fellow Marines.  All I can say is that so many died, too many died, for so little sand.  
As for Camp Tarawa, I never was there.  Recovering from the wound painfully dictated everything that happened in my life from the day it happened until I was discharged and returned Stateside.
Thanks for remembering.
Charles, your story is just as important as that of all other Marines who fought at Tarawa.  And we will remember.  Thank you for your service and willingness to serve our country.
Received 17 November 2010
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