In that humid hot place we were required to wear sleeves
rolled down and cuffs tucked into trousers to prevent vermin from biting
us. Evidently this unhealthy situation on Goodenough prompted those
in authority to move the First Marine Division on over to New Guinea
and under the jurisdiction of MacArthur's Sixth Army stationed around
Our next offensive landing was to be made just across
the Bismarck Sea and McArthur wanted to secure the flank before moving
on north to the Philippines. In those days all news items from the Pacific
war zone were prefaced "With Marines on Guadalcanal", or "MacArthurs
Headquarters, South Pacific". Resenting the competition in glory
hunting the general put us into our place, off the headlines and into
the holds of ships as stevedores unloading army supplies.
General Kruger's staff gleefully utilized the highly
trained Marines as lowly meaneals on tough work schedules, eight hours
on, sixteen off. We were exasperated and took advantage of our sad plight
by stealing the army 'blind'. We had been trained into the precept that
no Marine does without basic needs, even if he had to steal to survive.
We survived! Punching holes in cardboard boxes determining content we
found replacements for all of our shaggy uniforms, fatigues, khaki,
About this time I experienced my first enemy air raids
and I quickly learned to imitate the bomb weary Guadalcanal vets in
digging a deep foxhole. On one unloading work party I was totally exhausted
and went to sleep on a cot behind the landing boats conn. Several hours
later my buddies woke me to go back to camp, our shift was finished.
They told me that we had had three enemy air raids while I slept soundly
on the deck.
Occasionally we attended an open-air movie a mile
down the coast and sat on logs facing a screen, which was erected just
inland from the beach with the bay beyond. A few sneaky Japanese pilots
knew to fly along behind a line of hills just inland from the beach
and therefore avoid radar detection.
One such wise guy tip toed in on us and set his sights
on that brightly lit movie screen with visions of a glorious mass slaughter
of hated enemy dogs. His aim was a tad high and his bomb exploded noisily
just beyond the screen in the surf. Instant pandemonium among the audience
as veterans instantly 'hit the deck' face down between the logs while
being stomped into the gravel by uninitiated troops raced for the trees
The bomb slaughtered many innocent little fish but
had no effect on the men but many very angry Marines reported to sickbay
with multiple lacerations to head and face while being stomped by the
Admiral Nimitz had 'loaned' the First Marine Division
to the army under pressure from Washington to keep the peace among the
commanders of the Pacific war zone. When General MacArthur assumed command
of the highly trained and battle tested First Marine Division he set
them 'in their place' by sending a major league team back to the minors....
out of public attention.
Part 1 | Part 2 |
Part 3 | Part 4 | Part
5 | Part 6 | Part
7 | Part 8 | Part
9 | Part 10