Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
To every Middlesex village and farm,---
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo forevermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight-message of Paul Revere.
My hometown was Waltham, Massachusetts, located in that same Middlesex County where, in 1775, Paul Revere (along with William Dawes and Dr. Samuel Prescott) volunteered to ride to alert fellow Americans that their hoped-for future was in peril because the British were coming!
One hundred sixty-six years, seven months and five days later, my country’s hopes for liberty, justice, freedom and self-determination … all our quintessential American values were once again imperiled because the Japanese had attacked the home port of our US Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.   
So, ten days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, I what hundreds of thousands of other young guys did when they left their hometown:  I left Waltham and went to Boston to volunteer for the U.S. Marine Corps.  I was 17 years old.  I was able. And I was inspired to come to the aid of our country just as thousands of newly-minted Americans came to the aid of our country in our War of Independence in 1775.    The cause was the same; only the year and century were different!
A month went by before I could be sworn in to the Marine Corps.  That was at the Fargo Building, in Downtown Boston. Recruiters were really busy!  Lines of young men surrounded the building just waiting to get in and go into the branch of the service they wanted.  
Within four days Uncle Sam had given me a train ride across the United States to San Diego!  After boot camp, I was sent to a 90-day special course to be trained as a sniper.   With my training finished in March 1942, I was assigned to the 2nd Scout Company of the 2nd Tank Battalion, attached to the 2nd Marine Division.  As a sniper, I was one of 12 snipers attached to the 2nd Tank Battalion. One interesting thing here:  of the 70 guys I went through boot camp with, only 3 are alive today!
Our 2nd Tank Battalion had M3 Stuart tanks and by the time the war was over our battalion had participated in every action of the 2nd Marine Division, including the Battle of Tarawa, Battle of Saipan, Battle of Tinian and the Battle of Okinawa.  Briefly, we were with the occupation force in Japan itself.  
After leaving San Diego, we had a 30-day cruise in October 1942 on one of Uncle Sam’s transports to Wellington, New Zealand.   A fair portion of that trip was spent zig-zagging, altering course in unpredictable patterns in the common and basic defensive tactic vessels at sea employ in combat zones.  You never knew ahead of time where enemy submarines were lying in wait trying to sink the vessel you were on.   
From Wellington, we went up to Paekakariki, a small coastal settlement up the Kapiti Coast on the North Island, about 23 miles from Wellington.   
Training, more training and even more training went on all the time.   Fairly often, though we had liberties back to Wellington and a nearby town there named Johnsonville.   I went often to Johnsonville, so often, in fact, that I got to know so many people and began to be called the “Mayor of Johnsonville!”  After some 10 months, we went down to Wellington for the last time, and there we boarded the Crescent City-class attack transport USS Monrovia (APA-31) for our trip to Tarawa. 
On 27 October 1943, Monrovia departed Wellington bound for Efate in the New Hebrides (the present-day Republic of Vanuatu).  We stopped there long enough for all the transports heading to Tarawa to rendezvous and form TransDiv 18.  When that was accomplished, we departed Efate for the one-week trip to Tarawa Atoll in the Gilbert Islands, arriving off Betio the night before the battle began.  For the duration of the battle at Tarawa, Monrovia stood off Tarawa as the flagship of TransDiv 18 for Operation Galvanic.  
So, there I was:  an 18-year old young Marine sniper on the brink of my first amphibious assault on enemy territory which had undergone substantial construction of defensive assets on a 291-acre pile of sand in the middle of the ocean … and only about 7500 miles away from my hometown of Waltham! We had been told that very little or no opposition should be expected due to heavy bombardment by our Navy.  However, we were to learn otherwise even before we got ashore.
Along with many other Marines that night before we went ashore, we checked our equipment; reviewed instructions for what we would do in the coming hours; waited for chow: talked with others in my unit: and just relaxed.  As a sniper – a left-handed one at that! – I went over and over my ‘03 Springfield rifle, making sure everything was in perfect shape.  Left-handed snipers in the Marine Corps were almost unheard of.  My shooting technique with the Springfield was unorthodox, but each time I fired, I wasn’t hit in the shoulder by the hard-hitting kickback found with some other rifles … and when my services were required, my results were excellent!  Not at Tarawa, though.   I probably made a good difference there, but none of those shots were listed as confirmed kills.   Things sure changed, though, when we were at Saipan seven plus months later:  there I got 40 confirmed kills!
In the early morning light of D-Day, about 120 of us went over the side of Monrovia and scrambled down to the rubber boats for our run in to the beach.  These rubber boats held ten men, and I was the captain of my rubber boat.   Water conditions at that time of the morning were actually quite calm; we had no problem getting into our boats.  I am aware, though, that at both New Zealand and Tarawa, men I knew drowned in their runs from offshore troop ships to shore.  Sometimes, if they lost their balance or the rubber boat got out of control, they would fall overboard.  With their heavy packs, it was sometimes too much for them to get rid of their packs and get back to the surface before drowning.
We finally arrived on Red Beach 3 around 0830, and immediately I went in a short way and dug in to secure the beachhead for the arrival of our tanks, which occurred about two hours later. 
Snipers had to be ashore before the tanks arrived in order to secure their landing area. Occasionally, I would go further inland and dig in again to extend our beachhead perimeter.  Compared to over on Red Beach 2 and Red Beach 1 (looking west beyond the main pier toward the Bird’s Beak), initial enemy action on Red Beach 3 was quite light.  There was some erratic and ineffective sniper fire, but it had no real negative effect on our plans.  Actually, my first contact with the enemy did not happen until I arrived on shore.  After a while, the enemy brought over soldiers from west of the pier to try to push us off Red 3, but by that time we were already ashore and beginning to make progress.  
Once our tanks got ashore, I usually walked behind a tank looking and searching for opportunities for my role as a sniper.  As such, I served as the ‘eyes’ for my tank battalion.  I had no way of communicating with tank crews, nor was there any means of communication between tanks.  Speaking of communication, though, I still remember the all-too-frequent pleas from downed Marines: “Doc?  Doc! HEY DOC, OVER HERE!”  There were so many wounded, but there were not enough corpsmen and doctors to help all the wounded.   
It didn’t take too long to determine that my services as a sniper on Betio were not needed, so on about D+2, I was sent to one of the Navy destroyers and went down to Maiana and Abemama atolls (respectively, about 9 miles and about 90 miles south of Betio, respectively) to investigate whether any enemy were left there.  We found none. By the time Betio had been declared secure, I was still over on Abemama.
(0° 55’ N, 173° 02’ E)
 (0° 24' N, 173° 52' E)
Returning to Tarawa, I did more recon for a few days on some of the islets on the main chain of islets forming the long string of islets running up the backside of Tarawa. We had a few instances of running into enemy defenders. We also did more recon at Abaiang, and Marakei atolls (respectively, about 14 miles and 35 miles north of Buariki…the northernmost islet at Tarawa).   
(2° 00’ N, 173° 00’ E)
(1° 58’ N, 173° 45’ E)
Again, no contact with any enemy at Abaing or Marakei.  A Navy destroyer took us to these destinations, and we used the rubber boats for going ashore to conduct our investigations.  That destroyer took us back to Tarawa, and I guess, overall, I was on Betio for about one week.  
After Tarawa, we went to Camp Tarawa on the Big Island of Hawaii.  I think it was Monrovia that again provided our transportation.  I remember thinking that Camp Tarawa was a pretty big place, but it was cold.  Way up on one of those snow-capped mountains!  Again, training, training, training … we had to keep in top form and then try to improve on that!  I also remember several good liberties to Hilo and trips to some nearby beaches, too.  
In mid-June 1944, we were off to Saipan and in late July 1944 I was at Tinian, too.  I remember seeing those beautiful, big B-29s taking off on their runs to Japan.  Things were really picking up; you could see the war was coming to some sort of end.
After Tinian, I was sent back Stateside, almost to where I had come from when I enlisted … near Boston!  I was sent on guard duty for several months to the United States Naval Air Station South Weymouth (SOWEY, for short).  Now I was about as far southeast of Boston as my hometown was west of Boston:  about 12 miles!  In those days, SOWEY was a Navy blimp base hosting the airship patrol squadron ZP-11.  We had ten or twelve blimps on patrol and convoy duty all around Massachusetts Bay and on up to the Gulf of Maine and out over the Atlantic.
Finally, I was sent down to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina for a while and was discharged in January 1946.  Shortly after that, I attended an undertakers school, but at that time there was no work to be found.  So, that is when I began a 45-year career in retail sales, most of that time spent as a district sales manager.  
In 1988, I retired to Florida where palm trees don’t have any snipers hiding in them, and our palm trees here grow to full height without signs of being mutilated by Navy bombardment or ground fire … as had been the cases at Tarawa, Saipan and Tinian! Here, it never rains, the sun always shines and, only occasionally, do we have hurricanes!  But even they are preferable to the hell so many of us went through at Tarawa.
This lad from the northern cradle of the United States of America returned home to Middlesex County.  As Longfellow concluded in “The Ride of Paul Revere,”
To every Middlesex village and farm,---
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo forevermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight-message of Paul Revere.
So, whether it is Americans defying the British or Americans defying Tojo, the American voice defying tyrants remains clear. We don’t put up with that!  “Don’t tread on me!” is a rallying cry for Americans since the days of Benjamin Franklin and Paul Revere. 
Speaking of the rattlesnake symbolizing American temperament, Franklin himself famously once said, 
“I recollected that her eye excelled in brightness, that of any other animal, and that she has no eye-lids—She may therefore be esteemed an emblem of vigilance.—She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders: She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage.—As if anxious to prevent all pretensions of quarreling with her, the weapons with which nature has furnished her, she conceals in the roof of her mouth, so that, to those who are unacquainted with her, she appears to be a most defenseless animal; and even when those weapons are shewn and extended for her defense, they appear weak and contemptible; but their wounds however small, are decisive and fatal:—Conscious of this, she never wounds till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of stepping on her.—Was I wrong, Sir, in thinking this a strong picture of the temper and conduct of America?"
NO! … is the categorical and emphatic answer given to tyrants by American Colonists, American Citizens, Doughboys, veterans in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, Iraq, Libya and whenever and wherever!  We serve our country because we believe the freedoms and responsibilities we have are the sure possession of those alone with the courage to defend them.  We know freedom is not free.  And we remain ever vigilant and ready to resist tyrannical behaviors that threaten our great country.
It is true that the past is prologue to our future. Let future generations know and respond to our country’s challenges, comforted in the knowledge that their call to greatness is but another chapter in hour country’s history.  Just as we now have faced and overcome huge challenges in the past, so too, I believe, will those who follow in the future do the same. We must not forget those who could not come home.  They must live forever in our hearts.  If we lose touch with our past, we ourselves imperil our future.  Our country is built on ancient, good, honorable, inspiring and continuing traditions.   Keep the faith, everybody.  As a Marine, I close by saying … 
Semper Fi,  Everybody!
Jim, you are a model patriot!   Thank you for your courageous service.  You are proof that one individual can make a good and inspiring difference for others.  You have done that.  We salute you , and we will remember you.
Received 18 November 2010
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