Private William H. Oakley, H/2/8
I joined the 2nd Division in New Zealand and having been trained at Camp Matthews as a machine gunner I was assigned to a MG platoon. Upon arrival at Tarawa we were assigned to go in as the fourth wave. Just guessing at the time of arrival I would say it was mid-morning. We walked in from the reef. The pier was in fromt and some distance to the right of us. I do not rememeber any barb wire obstruction where I was walking. As an ammo carrier and being one of the new men in the platoon, I was next to last in my squads line in the boat and was next to last off.
Upon getting to shore we were very near Major Crowe. This was a pretty stressful time, however training took over and we did what we had to do. We spent the day moving about and doing various things. At one time we were at the taxi strip and our planes were coming in so low I thought I could see the color of their eyes. We were too far in so we went back to towards the beach.
I located a flamethrower and when we returned, we saw two Marines from our platoon, one lying on his back just under the pill box port and the other kneeling nearby. The one on his back was reaching overhead and inserting grenades in to the port while the other gave him more grenades. They both pulled off and the flame thrower gave two squirts into the port and then he was directed to a nearby log structure whre it was reported we were receiving fire. We went to that building and he set it afire. I then left him and returned to my squad.
Several hours later around dusk, my gunner called for ammo and I went forward to his position and was placing the ammo on the ground when I was hit in the left arm and chest.
Tom Montgomery of Los Angles, with whom I had trained, came up and dragged me out of immediate danger into a shell crater. Later some else came up with a litter and they carried me to the seawall where I spent most of the night. Later still in the darkness I was taken to the end of the pier and some time after daylight was transported to a hospital ship. From there to Pearl Harbor and then on to the naval hospital in Balboa Ca. where I remained for about three months until April 1944. After spending almost a year stationed at the Marine base in San Diego I went back overseas to Saipan where I rejoined the 2nd Division just in time for the occupation of Japan. We landed in Nagasaki and I remained in Japan until April 1946 when I reenlisted for two more years, spent in Washington D.C. After my enlistment was up I returned to my home town of Tulsa, Oklahoma and after a few years joined the Tulsa Police Department. I retired as a detective sergeant. I then worked and retired again from the US Postal Service in Tulsa. I married a secondary school teacher (English and Latin) and we have three grown children.
23 April 2002
copyright 2003 Wheaton, Illinois
Created 18 January 2003 - Updated 20 January 2003