road to Tokyo began on an Island in the Pacific that few
Americans had ever heard of and none of the military planners
knew much about. But on Guadalcanal, one of the Solomons, the
Japanese were building an airbase from which to strike at
American convoys to Australia. The Island had to be taken, and
quickly. The landing was America's first big amphibious assault.
On August 7, 1942, some 10,000 Marines went ashore almost
unopposed. By sundown the next day they had secured their major
objective, which they renamed Henderson field, as well as great
quantities of gasoline ,ammunition, tents, and rice. The
Japanese, it seemed, had fled in a panic. But on the night of
August 8-9, the United States Navy took one of its worst
whippings ever near Salvo Island, just off Guadalcanal, and
withdrew, leaving the Marines all alone. Then began the enemy
counterattack. "The Tokyo Express," the name the
Marines gave the fast Japanese ships that came down "the
Slot" between the Solomon Islands, began pouring in fresh
troops and supplies. The fighting was fierce and kept up for six
months. For a long while there was doubt as to which way it would
ashore, Guadalcanal looked like the South Seas "Isle of
Enchantment" in the color travelogues. Onshore, it was pure
hell. The heat was terrible; there were drenching rains, rats,
and bugs of every description; men were struck down by malaria
and dysentery and their skin broke out in jungle rot. But the
worst of all was the enemy. He came out of the jungle at night in
wild suicide charges. He fought according to no code an American
could understand; he was tricky and deadly. He seemed to live in
the jungle like an animal. By the time the last enemy sniper was
silenced, there were 24,000 dead Japanese. The dead Americans
totaled 1,752. This was the first time the Japanese had been
defeated on land since they went to war. It was also the first
time the Americans fully realized what sort of foe they were up
against and the kind of country they would have to fight him in.
This was no clean, modern campaign decided by advanced
technology, no recruiting poster sort of war. And in February,
1943, when the Japanese evacuated what was left of their forces (
about 12,000 men ) Tokyo was still 3,000 miles away.
command of the operation was Major General Alexander Vandegrift,
a soft spoken professional fighting man. The Marines under him
were young ( the average age was nineteen ) and green, and they
had been told next to nothing about the 92 - mile - long Island.
In the next six months they would learn very fast. It was an
awesome moment for the young Leathernecks.
Sergeant John Basilone" was the only the Marine in WW2 to
recieve the Medal of honor and the Navy cross
The 7th Regiment rejoined the 1st Marine Division in September 1942, and Puller, still commanding its 1st
Battalion, went on to win his third Navy Cross at Guadalcanal
The action that brought him
that medal occurred on the night of October 24-25 1942. For a desperate three
hours his battalion, stretched over a mile-long front, it was the only defense
between vital Henderson Airfield and a regiment of seasoned Japanese
troops. In pouring jungle rain the Japanese smashed repeatedly at his thin
line, as Chesty moved up and down its length to encourage his men and direct the
defense. After reinforcements arrived he commanded the augmented until late the
next afternoon. The defending Marines suffered less than 70 casualties in the
engagement while 1400 of the enemy were killed and 17 truckloads of Japanese
equipment were recovered by the Americans
"Gunnery Sgt Charles Urbino", who slashed his way
through the Pacific, the epitome of a combat Marine, May your
soul rest in peace Dad"Semper Fi"
You can have your Army Khaki,
You can have your Navy blue,
But there's still another fighter
I will introduce to you.
The uniform is different,
The best you've ever seen
The Huns, they called him Devil Dog,
But the real name is Marine.
He is trained at Parris Island,
The land that God forgot,
Where the sand is fourteen inches
And the sun is scorching hot.
He has set many a table,
Many a dish he had dried,
He is taught to make a bed
And a broom he sure can guide.
He has peeled a million onions,
Twice as many spuds,
And spends his spare time
Washing out his duds.
When he gets to heaven,
To Saint Peter he will tell,
"Another Marine reporting, Sir
I've served my time in hell."
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