6:36 | When Marine Joseph Hiott arrived in Guadalcanal, he was assigned to the 2nd Raider Battalion, a new unit created under orders from Franklin D. Roosevelt, who admired the British Commandos and wanted an American unit to perform special operations. The Raiders, like the enemy, would fight to the death but for a very different reason. They also considered themselves the best of the best and trained accordingly.
Keywords : Joseph Hiott Camp LeJeune Fleet Marine Force San Diego CA Miramar New Caledonia Guadalcanal Raiders Japanese Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) Winston Churchill Commando Thomas Holcomb Evans Carlson Gung Ho! Makin Island Merritt Red Mike Edson
Two days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Joseph Hiott showed up at the Marine recruiting office. At Parris Island, "the real Marine boot camp," he remembers being rousted at 2 AM to scrub the floor with a bucket of water, a bucket of sand, and a brick. The recruits were constantly berated and told there was no chance they were going to make it as Marines.
The gunnery instructors used a long megaphone so recruits on the firing line could hear them. Joseph Hiott recalls that when a young Marine turned without opening the bolt on his 1903 Springfield rifle, the instructor found another use for the megaphone. At the time, there was no graduation ceremony from boot camp, but it was better than any ceremony when their drill instructor finally smiled.
After boot camp, new Marine Joseph Hiott was assigned to guard duty at the Naval Air Station in Opa-locka, Florida where the crusty old commander told the men they were not yet Marines. One thing that meant was more close order drill, a valuable tool for instilling instant obedience to orders, something vital in combat. Another vital skill was being able to assume command when required.
Marine Raider Joseph Hiott's first battle was at Bougainville and his job was demolitions. Blowing up enemy emplacements was his responsibility, as well as setting perimeter traps. He admired the riflemen on the line because they were the ones doing the primary work.
After the Battle of Bougainville, the Marine Raiders were folded into the 4th Marine Regiment. Joseph Hiott says they all felt they were still Raiders. After several hard fought battles, there weren't many of them left. He had to fill in more than once for a superior who was killed or wounded, but he was not promoted. As the unit prepared to invade Emirau, they learned the Japanese garrison had abandoned the island.
It must have been a million rounds from naval guns and planes that pounded Guam, says Marine Joseph Hiott, but when he hit the beach, the Japanese were still there. In fact, he was under fire from the minute he left the ship. A foothold was secured, but it was a horrendous battle when the Japanese counter attacked that first night.
As he advanced across Guam, Marine Joseph Hiott encountered the Japanese "knee mortar." It was an effective weapon, though misnamed, he says. It would break your leg if you set it on your knee. Island fighting in the Pacific meant battling your enemy face to face. You had to dig him out and kill him and go on to the next one. In the jungle and mountain terrain, the the weaponry was limited to the M-1 rifle, the .30 cal light machine gun, and mortars.
Marine Joseph Hiott was the Platoon Guide, the second ranking NCO, and it was his job to fill in if something happened to the Platoon Sergeant and to provide additional supervision when advancing. The first night on Guam, he encountered a wounded Marine wandering around out of his mind. He got the man back to the aid station and felt good about his chances. Fifty years later he got a surprise.
It was during a heavy Japanese counter attack on Guam that George Cashmore, just an 18 year old kid, was killed on the line. Sgt. Joseph Hiott explains how you can't let death in combat affect you to the point that your effectiveness is lessened. It's war and people will die. You know that and keep going.
Near the end of the fighting on Guam, Joseph Hiott experienced two things for the first time. He came under friendly fire and he saw his first tracer bullets. Back on Guadalcanal, his Marine unit trained with tanks to perfect new combined unit tactics.
Joseph Hiott's unit was combined with others to make the 6th Marine Division, a self sufficient force. He had deduced through unusual means that the next destination was Okinawa, site of the last land battle of World War II. At the Northern point of the island, a mountain gun emplacement was outfitted with very large guns, but there were no roads. The Marines had to complete the assault to find the answer to that riddle.
It was on Okinawa that Joseph Hiott was hit by the concussion blast from an artillery shell. He doesn't know how close it landed, but four men further away than him were wounded by shrapnel. Though he was only hit with the concussion, he suffers to this day. Of course, when he was given the choice, the Marine returned to his unit rather than being evacuated.
When Marine Joseph Hiott returned to his unit on Okinawa after recovering somewhat from a concussion, he assumed the job of Platoon Sergeant because that man was a casualty. They made a second landing and pressed on until every single enemy soldier was dead. Before it was over, he was filling in for the Gunnery Sergeant.
After Okinawa was secured, it wasn't long until Japan surrendered. The Marine Corps began tallying up points to schedule men to return home and you needed at least 85 points. Joseph Hiott had 97 and they were hard earned. He sums up his service with a tribute to his fellow Marines, and more especially, his fellow Marine Raiders.
Everyone at Texas A&M took military courses and Ed Parker was no different. Electing to stay in ROTC, he received his degree and reported to Camp Wolters for infantry training. Then he was sent to Motor Maintenance school despite the fact that he barely knew which end of a vehicle the engine was in.
When Marine Joseph Hiott arrived in Guadalcanal, he was assigned to the 2nd Raider Battalion, a new unit created under orders from Franklin D. Roosevelt, who admired the British Commandos and wanted an American unit to perform special operations. The Raiders, like the enemy, would fight to the death but for a very different reason. They also considered themselves the best of the best and trained accordingly.
Tinian was a little easier time than Saipan and Iwo Jima, says Merrill Burroughs, who was with an Anti-Aircraft battery. He still had close calls when Japanese planes strafed the island. On the way in, he managed to hide a case of pork and beans, which was a precious thing.
Ed Parker is still shaking his head over what he heard General George Patton say in a speech, and over how accurate the famous movie was. Shortly after that, he faced his first combat, his nervous stomach not helped by the green eggs he had for breakfast. Unfazed, he was ready to take Metz, a city which had never been taken in battle.
It was thirty six straight days on Iwo Jima with no change of clothes or regular meals. Phil Wells carried an extra bandolier stuffed with fruit bars. He had come ashore with the fourth wave just as Japanese gunners really began to fire on the landing force. As a runner, he didn't come face to face with the enemy, though once he was sure he had. What's that password?
Lou Smith was evacuated from Iwo Jima to Saipan, then to a hospital in Hawaii. That was tough duty, recuperating with the swimming and the girls. One thing haunts his sleep, though, until this day. He had been throwing enemy grenades back the way they came when he was wounded, and this is key to his nightmares.
It was during the Battle of Remagen that Ed Parker distinguished himself in action, enough so that he was awarded a Bronze Star. He shrugs it off, saying many more did just as much as he did. He couldn't believe the British troops he encountered stopped to make tea, but there they were. A German flag made it back home with him, but not the Luger he found. The Germans probably reclaimed that.
His company was in the 1st wave to land on Red Beach Two. Under attack from the moment he left the amphibious tractor, George Alden lost 4 of his men. Forced to keep moving in order to protect his remaining comrades, the group pushed further up the island towards the first landing strip. However, George was injured when he and his squad found themselves pinned down under Japanese fire. Injured and alone, George was forced to wait nearly a full day before he was discovered and rescued.
They were promised a steak dinner on the ship home and Ed Parker was really looking forward to that. Not getting that steak is the primary thing he remembers from that trip. Looking back on the end of the war, he has some tough words for those who believe we never should have used the atomic bomb.
The German interrogator knew more about his bomb group than he did and after a short questioning, Michael Gold was off to a POW camp where he was lucky to share a barracks with the other officers from his crew. The German rations were supplemented with Red Cross parcels that arrived from Sweden.
After breaking out at Anzio. Hubert Aaron's unit marched into Rome, the only American unit to capture an enemy capitol during World War Two. He received a Silver Star for actions during that operation. When he went into St. Tropez, with dry feet for a change, he ignored his platoon leader's order to move out through an open field. Then he let his Thompson submachine gun do some talking.
It's terrible at first, but the longer you are in combat, the more callous you get. Like being keyed up at the beginning of a football game, but settled in by the half. That's how Ed Parker describes his experience. He also reveals how his wife could keep up with who had died, even though the mail was censored.
The British had battled the Germans back and forth across North Africa and American P-40's had arrived to provide some additional air power. Crew chief Gordon Markle describes what that was like with the sandstorms, the C-rations from another war, and the German air attacks. He also learned that you don't want to cross the Gurkhas.
Two engines were out, a third smoking, and they were were losing airspeed and altitude, but they were flying level and pointed home. Then time ran out for the B-17 and Don Scott had to slip down the hatch into the slipstream. Part 2 of 3.
His unit was pretty beat up in the battle to take Metz, so they were back in a holding position during the Battle of the Bulge. Ed Parker noticed that most of the German captives were either very old or very young. They were just about defeated. On leave in Paris, he did not get a warm feeling from the French people he encountered.
Hubert Aaron says, "I know I'm going to heaven because I spent three months in hell at Anzio." During this battle, he directed some artillery fire that was highly accurate, but then he was on the receiving end as an incoming enemy round put him in the hospital with a concussion. After being pinned down for three months and nearly being pushed back into the sea, the Americans finally prevailed.
It was their third mission over Berlin and they were heading home. Four German fighters pounced on the B-24 and it was engulfed in flame and going down. Clyde Burnette fought for consciousness as the other crew in the back of the plane bailed out. He woke in free fall with no idea how he had made it out, and soon he was in German custody. Everyone made it out of the plane except George "Danny" Daneau, the nose turret gunner, who went down with the aircraft.
After a nerve-wracking mission to bomb Tokyo and a typhoon, B.E. Vaughan and the destroyer O'Brien suffered a second kamikaze attack which killed all three of his hometown pals who served with him on board. Then, began the grim task of collecting the personal belongings of the dead and preparing them for burial at sea.
After capturing an entire German Panzer division, Hubert Aaron's outfit was moving up the Rhone River Valley when he was wounded in an ambush. Evacuated to Naples, he found out how great was his sacrifice.
The first operation for the 4th Division was the landing on Roi-Namur. Lawrence Snowden remembers that, though it was an easy victory, valuable combat experience and important lessons were imparted on the Marines.
Ed Parker left his division to go to Advanced Officers Training school at Fort Benning. After he returned to his unit and before he could go overseas, he went on desert maneuvers training to fight Rommel. After that situation changed, he was sent on mountain maneuvers in preparation to move on Germany through the Alps. Guess what happened?
Gene Frazier had been part of the huge mission on March 9, 1945 when a large part of Tokyo was firebombed and hundreds of thousands were killed. On the ground was an eleven year old boy, who would miraculously survive and meet the B-29 pilot years later.
They lost a lot of men in the battle to take Metz, recalls Ed Parker. Shortly after that, he was nearly killed himself when a Screaming Mimi rocket knocked him down, but did not injure him. The constant diet of C-rations got the men to thinking. Why don't we eat that old milk cow that's hanging around?
As officers, each man was issued a bottle of whiskey every week. B-29 pilot Gene Frazier didn't drink, so he traded his accumulated bottles to the sailors for all manner of goods. After the war ended, he was selected to ferry some planes to the Philippines where he acquired a small plane and had fun flying all over the area, except for the occasional potshot by Communist rebels. He turned down a chance to fly for the Chinese Nationalists, and he mailed home a parachute to his fiance, who put it to good use.
The Japanese had a presence on two Aleutian Islands and American units were pushing down the chain, ever closer to them. Ground crew member Lawrence Abel kept P-38's flying in the miserable weather. He describes the dangers faced by pilots in this unusual battleground of the war.
He arrived in England just before D-Day, but it was three months later until Ed Parker waded off a landing craft onto French soil. He was detached and put in charge of a convoy and, for a while, was part of the Red Ball Express, the famous ad hoc Army supply system for the European theater. He heard his first artillery and he saw the annihilated city of Saint-Lo.
B-29 pilot Gene Frazier tells the story of a secret war crimes trial held on Guam in 1946. It concerned atrocities on the island of Chichijima, where his cousin Glenn Frazier was captured. The incident was documented by author James Bradley in the book Flyboys.