LAVERNE  A. “Verne” COULTHARD
Sadly, Verne Coulthard passed from this life on 14 June 2013, at over 90˝ years of age.  
At the end of this report is a moving eulogy by his nephew, Marine Sgt Steve Berntson.
I was from Hope, Idaho on the shores of beautiful Lake Pend Oreille in Northern Idaho.    Part of me will always be in Hope.
“Verne grew up with this view of Lake Pend Oreille …
taken from the porch of the parents’ house when he joined the Marines.”
With vistas like these, there is always hope!
Steve Berntson, email to author,  November 12, 2013.
unset2.jpg
Beautiful Lake Pend Oreille
http://www.redfircabin.com
To think that I traded this God-beloved country around my home for an obscure pile of sand called Betio in far-away Tarawa.   Few people had ever heard of this place, and two adversaries turned that place into a bloody, God-forsaken pile of sand that became one of the most storied battles in Marine Corps history!
Here begins my story of memories of the Battle of Tarawa, told 69 years after this brutally short battle happened.  
I joined the Marines in Portland, Oregon when I was 20 years old, and I had my 21st birthday in a foxhole on Betio on 23 November 1943, as the battle was beginning to wind down.   For a birthday present, a company sergeant threw me a can of C rations and said, “Happy Birthday!  At least you have lived to see your 21st birthday!”  It was a very short celebration!
At Tarawa, I was in Company B, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment in the 2nd Marine Division. I was a PFC and worked as a runner for the Executive Officer, 1st Lt. Maher.  He was a good and brave man and a good leader. 
On 1 November, I shipped out from Wellington, New Zealand on the USS Harry Lee (APA-10), but nobody was told where we were going.   After a few hours, we learned about our destination when we heard over the ship’s loud speakers: 
ttp://www.shipscribe.com/usnaux/APA/h_lee3-08.jpg
USS Harry Lee (APA-10), May 1943
http://www.shipscribe.com/usnaux/APA/h_lee3-08.jpg
“To all Marines:
We are not returning to our camps. This convoy is now proceeding into combat. Our destination and plans will be announced in a few days.”
I have since learned this vessel was formerly the SS Exochorda of the American Export Lines, used for cruises up to 40 days in length between New York City and various ports in the Mediterranean.  Any Marine or Navy sailor who was ever on the USS Harry Lee knows her nickname:   Lister Lee  or  Listing Lee  But how did she get that nickname and why was she often referred to as “The Wackiest Ship the Navy Ever Saw?”  Here is the explanation for all to see: 
http://www.ussharrylee.com/main_page.htm
On 3 August 1943, “Lister Lee” departed Norfolk, Virginia bound for New Zealand, via the Panama Canal and San Francisco, arriving in Wellington on 12 October 1943.  
For two weeks, “Lister Lee” loaded equipment, ammunition and Marines, and I was one of those Marines. On 1 November 1943, we departed from beautiful Wellington, New Zealand as part of Task Force 53.  A couple of days out of Wellington, we stopped for a couple of days for practice landings on Mahia Bay (at the north end of Hawkes Bay on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island.   
On 27 October 2013, several New Zealander veterans remembered us and those practice