Sgt. Edward R. Godwin, E/2/2
Serial # 265510
The following letter was sent to Tom Godwin from Corpsman Lonnie Yancey in response to Tom's inquiry about his father, Sgt. Edward Godwin. Yancey went into Tarawa on the same amtrac as Sgt. Godwin. They were to land at the pier on Red 2 but machine gun fire made the amtrac driver veer to Red 1. Sgt. Godwin was the squad leader but took command as platoon leader when 2nd Lt. Dahlgren was killed.
I cannot remember all the people in our squad, but will try to put down those that I do.
Cpl. Bonnin WIA PFC Edward Rendon WIA Pvt. Emil Ragucci KIA 2nd Lt. Dahlgren KIA French - attached machine gunner
I'm sorry but I cannot recall the names of the others. Bonnin and Rendon were both wounded. Lt. Dahlgren and Bonnin were wounded by the same grenade. Bonnin threw it and the Jap caught it and tossed it back in the shell hole that we were in. We had three (3) second and seven (7) second grenades, evidently, this was a 7 second one. I bandaged Bonnin left arm and side but couldn't help the Lt. He had most of his left side and neck blown off. Rendon was wounded the second day when we tried to get to the plane revetments. I had to bandage his left wrist.
As to the amtrac, if it were named don't recall it. Its number was 32 or 36. I don't know whether any others veered off with us or not. I do know that we were the only one to get over the sea wall. Can't tell you how, but we did. A Jap threw a grenade in with us and it went in the engine room and knocked the motor out and we fell into the sixteen inch shell hole. There was a pill box just above the hole with a back entrance to it just above the amtrac and the shell hole. Japs were between us and the beach also all around us. They didn't know we were in the shell hole and it was a turkey shoot. Yes, we were isolated for the three days. Never saw any other Marines anywhere near us. Unfortunately, Ragucci got out the morning of the second day but came back to get me. As we started up the side of the hole on the beach side, he was shot and fell back in my arms. All I could do was lay him down where he was.
I was lying there after that when I looked up and there was the biggest Jap I had ever seen. I threw my rifle up but it didn't fire. Then I kicked the bolt open with my foot and worked it a couple of times. The Jap had ducked down behind some coconut logs that led to the back entrance of the pill box. Needless to say, I was waiting for him when he raised up. That's when Sgt. Godwin told us to get in the amtrac and start cleaning the rifles. We did and dark caught us so we decided to spend the night in the amtrac. I was told that I had the 12 to 8 guard duty. Sgt. Godwin handed me a 45 auto and I sat in the door way to the engine. The next morning early Sgt Godwin said to hand him the 45. I did and he blew a Jap away but he got off a grenade and it exploded in the amtrac. With all the water and back packs in there it didn't hurt any one. That's when we decided to get out of there. We headed for the beach and all made it. I have the book Tarawa by Robert Sherrod. He was the correspondent attached to E/2/2. Your dad was given a picture of the amtrac after we got back to Hawaii. I saw it then, but there weren't any others so I didn't get one.
After we got back to Hawaii and went over the mountain to the Parker Ranch the platoon was transferred, I should say some of us were. The Sarge tried to talk them into letting me stay with him but no dice. We belonged to whoever called for replacements on Saipan.
Yours in comradeship,
Awarded the Navy Cross at Tarawa
United States Pacific Fleet
Flagship of the Commander in Chief
In the name of the President of the United States, the Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Fleet, takes pleasure in presenting the NAVY CROSS to:
SERGEANT EDWARD R. GODWIN, UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
for service as set forth in the following citation:
"For extraordinary heroism while serving with Company E, Second Battalion, Second Marines, Second Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces at Tarawa Atoll, Gilbert Islands, on 20 November 1943. When his Platoon leader was seriously wounded after landing inside the boundaries of an enemy strong point which dominated the entire bay area, Sergeant Godwin immediately assumed command and, despite intense, persistent hostile fire and the complete absence of communication with friendly troops, courageously led his men to establish an isolated position in a crater located among Japanese emplacements. By his coolness and sound judgment, he enabled the platoon to repel repeated enemy bayonet attacks from three directions, skillfully administering first aid to the wounded and refusing for two days to withdraw to friendly lines although suffering an injury to his shoulder. Sergeant Godwin's splendid initiative, inspiring leadership and indomitable fighting spirit were vital factors in sustaining the morale of his men and were in keeping with highest traditions of the United States Naval Services."
Admiral, U.S. Navy.
Special thanks to Tom Godwin.
copyright 1999 T.O.T.W.
Created 21 August 1999 - Updated 11 August 2007
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