Irvin Cunningham, 2nd Marines
My father, Irvin Cunningham fought with the Marines on Tarawa and since his death I have developed a keen interest in finding out more about the battle in general and what happened to him in particular. I would like to find out which regiment he served in. He talked very little about the war and all I know is that he saw action with the 2nd Marine Division at Guadacanal, Tarawa, and Saipan. The following is one of the few accounts he related to me.
During the landing at Tarawa he was still suffering from malaria he contracted on Guadacanal. Shells were landing quite close to their landing craft but with sea sickness and malaria he felt almost too bad to worry about anything else. A friend of his that was behind him in the boat said, "I'm not worried. I owe that cheap Scotsmen forty dollars so I know he will take good care of me" (referring to my father). He turned to make some reply and could not at first locate his friend. When he did he saw that a shell that had passed had taken the poor soul's head off. As they continued toward the beach he found himself feeling so bad he wanted to just not be standing for a bit. Either he was already in the corner of the boat or made his way there and slumped down. Shortly after a shell scored a direct hit in the boat killing everyone but him. For a short time he was pinned under the bodies of his comrades until another boat came alongside and he was taken off and went in with them. The corpsman kept trying to treat him but he was unhurt and kept repeating, "It's not my blood."
copyright 2001 Wheaton, Illinois
Created 26 October 2001