1st Lt. William H. Sanders II, A/1/2
Serial # 015616
The other half of Clarence Petrie's two-man army was his platoon leader, 1st Lt. William H. Sanders."As a two man army, Sgt. Clarence E. Petrie and his platoon leader are in a class to themselves. The Japanese were in possession of many strong pillboxes and dugouts on the beach: these were causing heavy casualties among Marines attempting to gain the beach by wading through the shallow waters. Petrie, accompanied only by Sanders, voluntarily assisted in attacking and destroying four of the strong enemy positions. He helped put a 75mm pack howitzer in position to fire on the first pillbox and helped to load the howitzer in the face of heavy machinegun fire. He then with the lieutenant rushed the position and entered it to ascertain if all the Japanese were dead. Without hesitation thay attacked four large pillboxes connected together by trenches. They attacked the first position in the face of heavy machinegun fire, and under the cover of the accurate and steady fire of Petrie, the pillbox was gained and a number of handgrenades and TNT tossed in, after which both men entered to finish off the enemy. By way of the connecting trenches, they made an assault on the second position and killed its occupants. They then attacked the third position, and after throwing grenades and TNT inside, they entered to mop up. Two Japanese were discovered and killed by grenades before the Lieutenant was seriously wounded by a Japanese grenade. Without hesitation, and at great risk of his own life, Petrie dragged the officer outside to safety and carried him back to the aid station."
Col. Clyde H. Metcalf, "This was Tarawa", The Marine Corps Gazette May, 1944.
For this action 1st Lt. Sanders was awarded the Navy Cross 21 November 1943.
Corpsman Ray Duffee adds that after Bill was taken back to the aid station he called for him to treat his wounds since they were friends. Bill was sure he was going to die and asked Ray to send a Japanese flag back to his parents that was found in one of the bunkers he and Petrie destroyed. Ray assured him that while his wounds were serious he would make it. Ray folded the flag and placed it under Bill's head as he lay on the stretcher. Recently Bill donated this flag and a Japanese sword to a local historical society in Virginia. Below is Bill Sanders in front of this same flag captured on Tarawa.
Mr. Sanders has written two books about his service in the Marine Corps during WWII.
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copyright 2000 T.O.T.W.
Created 17 April 2001 - Updated 17 February 2005
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