1st Lt. Paul S. Hospodar M/3/8
First Lieutenant Paul S. Hospodar, of Lorain, Ohio, kept a record the first twenty-four hours of the battle. The section of his log which covers the initial assault waves is typical of what all of the men went through. It reads, in part:
"The first machine-gun platoon, attached to I Company in the fourth wave, disembarked from a transport on D-Day, forming a four-boat group. We joined the Eighth Regiment's third battalion, who were to rendezvous and act as a reserve battalion.
We circled about, awaiting further orders, and finally proceeded to make a four abreast landing on the northeast side of the pier. We approached under intense enemy fire opposition from Red Beach Three. The enemy's gunfire consisted mostly of 20 and 40 millimeters, light and heavy machine guns, and scattered mortar fire.
The LCVP4 [landing boat] was hit, forcing Sergeant Kenneth W. Seymour [Fredericksburg, Virginia] and his men to abandon the boat and work their way along the burning and sniper-infested pier. During their trek towards the beach, the men knocked out several sniper nests on the pier.
Upon gaining a foothold on land, Private First Class Wilbur C. Mattern [Oelwein, Iowa] was killed by machine-gun fire. Corporal Robert F. Clement [Marshfield, Wisconsin] and Private First Class William W. Erwin [Alexandria, Indiana] were wounded. This left Sargeant Seymour and five men to join the Marines pressing inland.
The [2nd] boat unloaded, Corporal Robert Ferguson [Houston, Texas] also worked his men along the pier on the beach. Upon landing, his squad was hit hard by machine-gun fire, in which Private First Class Carol E. Lunndrigan [Missoula, Montana] was killed by machine-gun fire. Corporal Ferguson and Private First Class Columbus V. Housewright [Dallas, Texas] were wounded. This left Private First Class Charles W. Cummings [Methuen, Massachusetts] and four men.
At this stage, there was no time to wait and reorganize. The beachhead was still to be established, and the opposition was very strong, with the persistent threat that oncoming waves and the disorganized Marines already ashore would be wiped out. But my men fought bitterly, held their own, and continued to push inland.
The LCMl [landing boat] with Private First Class Frank E. Childress [Joplin, Missouri] and part of Company I unloaded. Here Private Childress was missing, believed to be drowned as were many Marines who unloaded in deep water with all of their equipment.
LCM2 [second landing boat] dropped the ramp out from the reef. The men jammed in front of the boat and unloaded into water over their heads. About 25 jumped out. Word was passed back that the water was too deep, so five were dragged back aboard. The remainder hung onto other boat wreckages and made for the end of the pier.
During this disaster, Sergeant Lawrence Loyall [Joiner, Arkansas] was missing, believed to be drowned. After the five were dragged back aboard the ramp was raised and we pulled out."
4:00 P.M.: "Fifteen men and myself [a machine-gun section] were transferred to an amphibious tractor. We were taken to the west side of the pier. The time was about 4 p.m. Upon coming as close as possible to land we unloaded under fire and joined a part of the Second Marine Regiment, which was working its way southwest from the pier.
In the course of events, I picked up 30 Marines who couldn't find their outfits, plus one machine-gun squad. In all, we pushed inland southwest of the pier.
In this action, the machine gun section silenced three light machine guns which the enemy was using to rake the beach and fighter strip. Here, we continued to engage the enemy until nightfall.
I reported to Lieutenant Colonel Dixon Goen [Redondo Beach, California] at the Second Marine Regiment Command Post, and set up a night security defense, expecting a night counterattack. The three machine guns covered a semicircle around the base of the pier and across the fighter strip, connecting up with the Second Regiment on my right flank and the Eighth Regiment on my left.
As yet, there was no composite unity to our forces. But we had a beachhead established and were pushing in three directions, east, west,and south. The north cenrtal part, around the base of the pier, was well in hand by nightfall.
In the meantime, Sergeant Seymour and his men attached themselves to Major William C. Chamnberlain [Chicago, Illinois], executive officer of the Second Battalion Eighth Marine Regiment, in their eastward push along the beach. They fought throughout the night. In this action, his men accounted for about 30 of the enemy."
Excepted from Wilson, Lucas et al. Betio Beachhead, 1944. See Bibliography for the full citation.
copyright 2003 T.O.T.W.
Created 2 March 2003