Ed Foley  C Company, 1st Marines, 1st Battalion

Interview by Peter Flahavin

Pearl Harbor & Training
I was playing cards on December 7, 1941 when the news came in the Pearl Harbor was attacked. A buddy of mine and I were waiting in line at the Marine Recruiters office for hours to enlist the night of the seventh. When we finally got in the Sgt. turned out to be the husband of the sister of my brothers future wife. After we had signed in and enlisted he told us to go home and come back after News Year as my brother had joined the Navy three weeks before Pearl Harbor. We returned Jan. 2 and were sent to Parris Island. Marine recruits usally remain there for three months, we were there two weeks and were sent to Quantico,Virginia to complete the months, we lasted there two weeks and were sent to different locations. I ended up in C-!-! in early February 1942.We were station at then Tent City , New River, North Carolina now Camp LeJune. We were told that Marines always trained for about a year before going to battle.When we boarded ship in early June1942 we boarded trains and after traveling up and down and sideways, so the enemy would not know where we were going we ended up in San Francisco,

Hospitalization
I was in the hospital when the orders came to ship out I had injured my knee in a training exercise and had to beg the doctor for two days to let me out, he finally said it is your problem and let me go.We went to Welling ton, New Zealand where we were suppose to stay for six months training, instead we refitted the ship for combat and took off, General VanderGriff pleaded for training time of at least six months, but was granted an extra week for training the invasion was moved from August 1st. to the 7Th. On the way to the Canal we hit a typhoon and I was knocked of the ladder, stairway in civilian life, and bounced off the same knee. The doctor said son you stay on the ship when we get to our destination, and gave me a written order. The night before the invasion when I was talking to Oscar Grover and he shared with me that he was not going to get off the island, and I told him everyone felt like that, I lied because I felt if I got to my 21st birthday which was four days after the landing, they couldn't touch me. Lt. Bob Fowler came to me and said Ed your part of the team and we need you. I said I guess I can run as fast as anyone else and committed to go.

Landing
When we hit the island we were unopposed, as we moved inland the heat was oppressive and guys were dropping like flies, I was thinking what a weak bunch, when I nose dived into a bush the Corpman took pulses told us to stay put, gave us salt tablets.

Landing
We were in the third wave to land

I was in the third wave which landed around 11:45 A.M.. Col. Cresswell
told Capt.Stevenson to get his troops off the beach. He did not say to chase
Japs.  We ended up about two to 4 miles inland. This is where the first man
killed on the island ended. This was Oscar Grover ( Oscar had told a few of
us the night before he was not going to make it off the island) I don't think
he expected to be the first man killed. Also, Jim Crotty was the first man
wounded, in a pre dawn skirmish. I was left to wait for help for JIm. I
believe I already  shared this information with you..

It was getting near sundown and we started up the trail darkness was setting in and caused us to stay over night at first light three of us took off to catch up. We arrived just after a fire fight, Oscar Grover was killed, the first killed on the island and Jim Crotty was the first wounded. Lt. Fowler seeing the I was still limping detailed me to remain with the dead and wounded, he told me someone would be along shortly to pickup Crotty then catch up. Needless to say no one came. The next day I told Jim I would carry him out, strange thing I did not know where out was. He said I couldn't and let me feel where the bullet was bulging out of the skin near his spine he said the pain was too great. I told him I would be back if nothing happened to me. I took off and started down an embankment about fifteen feet high, it had rained all night, and you guessed it wrapped my knee around a tree.

Abandoned Japanese Camp
When we hit the tent area there were still pots on the fire and some food was still warm. The Japs that were there, had hauled ass. The first Jap we saw was out in a field with his arm sliced from elbow to shoulder filled with maggots.We left him in the field after medicating him. During our very first bombing when the planes were coming down the runway and we saw the bombs exploding this guy and I were looking for a hole to climb into . We spotted one , made a flying dive and ended up in the garbage dump up to our ass in swill.!We were fortunately only yards from the ocean. We jumped in and scrubbed, not too long however, as there were Jap and ships and planes around.

Happy 21st Birthday
On the 10th of August in '42 at two minutes of twelve all hell broke loose near Henderson Field. I am sure it was to celebrate my twenty first birthday and it lasted until sunrise on the 11th. A Lieutanant that was at the location called out �do not fire� we don't know if it friend or foe.� I did not think it too friendly when I bullet hit the tree I was behind and the next one threw dirt in my face. But, I will never forget my twenty first birthday!

Coin Toss
Not knowing where I was, on anyone else for that matter, I flipped a coin, in my mind and decided on left. I spotted a communication cable hidden in the bush and followed it to the Ilu River. After carefully looking over the terrain I got as low as I could and crossed the stream. Climbing up the other bank I heard what sounded like gibberish and said oh God I came the wrong way, until I heard a voice shouting out a familiar profanity, after several challenges I was admitted, asked for the officer in charge and was directed to a Captain, told him what was going on and he gave me four Marines and a stretcher and gave me twenty minutes to get back or we were on our own. We made it back just as they were pulling out, the reason, the Japs had moved in the night before in force. We threw the strecther on the Jeep. I asked where my company was located and was told to get my butt in the Jeep I could find my outfit later.We arrived at an aid station where I left Crotty never to see him again.

Looking for Outfit
I was directed toward my outfit, walked for about an hour came to the beach where I found a Sergeant and eight marines moving crates. I asked for further direction and was told forget your company your a-- is mine. We are expecting 10,000 Japs tonight. I figured that was fair 9 Marines and a sergeant, I figured that was about right. The Japs did not arrive at that location so in the morning the sergeant excused me and gave me directions to my outfit I walked for four hours until I was challenged, again not having the password I went through the routine Babe Ruth, Yankees, who was leading in the baseball season. Finally, I advanced and immediately recognized the Marine as a fellow I had worked with in the States. We had a little reunion and then he asked where the hell are you coming from I said I had no idea, but about four miles down the beach. He said you must be the luckiest Irishman on the Island that is where the Japs landed last night. They must have thought you were the point man and waited for the main body to come through. By this time my knee was the size of a softball and I asked directions to the Aid Station. It was about 200 yards away. The doctor put me in sick bay. This was now the 10th of August and as it approached midnight I kept asking two Marines what time it was about every two minutes. They finally said where the hell are you going Foley on vacation?

Firefight
At 11:55 all hell broke loose a LT. on site said don't fire we don't know where it is coming from and don't know if it friend or foe. I didn't think it was friend when a bullet hit the tree I was behind and the next shot threw dirt in my face, the firing stopped at sunrise and we still don't know to this day whether it was friend or foe. The two fellow Marines were returned to duty they waved goodbye and disappeared into the jungle. Fifteen minutes later a Marine returned and told us they had both been killed two hundred yards from the aid station.

Diary vs. Ducking
Funny how many people kept diaries. It never entered my mind. My mind was on ducking at the right time. My diary would have read the alarm has just gone off, the Japs planes, twenty one in number, are now in sight the bombs have been dropped and we see them coming down and watch as they hit they runway. Time to duck the bombs have reached a point about two hundred yards away and they are still coming. I thinking we made it, but now a tree is falling . I get on my knee to see if it near us when I am knocked down by concussion as the bomb hits twenty yards away and makes a hole about twenty feet wide. My buddy and I are bruised, but some are dead and wounded from fifty to a hundred yards away. The way of a war.

Treatment of Japanese Prisoners
Sgt Fred Harris mentions that he did not remember any brutal treatment of prisoners and I have to agree to that. In fact I had guard duty of some of the first prisoners brought in . There was a scared Jap, probably no more than seventeen or eighteen. I went in the compound with him, found out where he came from and we started to teach each other to speak the others language. Until the Sergeant on duty found me in there and told me in no uncertain terms to get my ass out of there before he decided to shoot me. He was deadly serious. Harris also mention a Zero coming in at tree top level. The same happened to me, but he wasn't firing as we were under thick cover.

Dogfights
That is what is funny about war, I was no more than fifty yards from the pilot's quarters for a month and I never got to talk to any of them, I did, however, watch as they had dog fights over the Slot and watched as some of them fell.

I was up at 4:00 a.m. one night to add to the moisture of the island when I heard a swoozing noise. I looked up and saw one of our planes coming in with the power off so he wouldn't get shot down. All of a sudden all hell broke loose and I'm screaming �its one of ours!!� The shooting kept up and, thank God ,the pilot made, it getting the Purple Heart, as they torn up his leg. Regretfully they were great shots on the wrong target.

BridgeBridge
The bridge that Bill Coggin mentioned is one where I was on duty to a swimming party. I was to the right of the machine gunner in this photogrpah. It was taken when General Vandergrift came down to see the troops. Strangely, I don't know if I mentioned this to Bill but, it was the Second and Third battalions that I discovered when I went� for help to rescue Jim Crotty. It only took me fifty plus years to learn this.

 

Amebic Dysentery & Discharge
About a week later I was ready to go back on duty when I got hit with a bout if tropical ameobic dysentery. I was shipped off the island to be operated on in Neumea, New Caladonia for my knee and shipped back to Auckland, New Zealand later to Wellington then back to Auckland. I hit the canal weighing 185 lbs and left at 116. I would not recommend the diet for weight loss.I was operated on again as the first one did not work as I was operated on by a stomach surgeon who later admitted he knew nothing about orthopedics and didn't have to tools to do the job properly. I was shipped back to the states and as a MP volunteered to go back to the Fleet Marines was so ordered but the knee did not work so I was discharged. Hope this was not too much.

 

  Discussion Forum Daily Updates Reviews Museums Interviews & Oral Histories  
 
Pacific Wrecks Inc. All rights reserved.
Donate Now Facebook Twitter YouTube Google Plus Instagram