Preserving The Oral HistorIES of Combat Veterans


Emory B. Ashurst | 2nd Marine Division

6:28   |   The Japanese commander on Tarawa boasted that it would take a million men a hundred years to take the island. The Marines accomplished it with somewhat fewer in quite a bit less time. Emory Ashurst says the battle was something you would never want to see again.

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Videos ( 10 )
  • Emory B. Ashurst  |  WWII  |  Marine Barracks Indian Head, MD  |  5:56

    When he was headed to Parris Island, Emory Ashurst knew nothing about the Marine Corps. It only took him a few days to find out what it was all about. That was in 1940 and he was at his first post, guarding a naval powder factory when Pearl Harbor was attacked. He was sent to demolition school and slotted for the South Pacific.

  • Emory B. Ashurst  |  WWII  |  2nd Marine Division  |  4:45

    After some amphibious training at La Jolla, Emory Ashurst crossed the Pacific with the 2nd Marine Division to their first island objective, Gavutu, in the Solomon Islands. On his way to the beach in the Higgins boat, he listened to the whining and emotional panic of some of the others. He was not rattled because he had old time religion.

  • Emory B. Ashurst  |  WWII  |  2nd Marine Division  |  5:54

    Emory Ashurst was not technically infantry. He was in a Pioneer unit, tasked with various support functions on the battlefield. His specialty was demolitions and he recalls an incident in which he was placing charges at the mouth of a cave when a gunshot rang out. Another time his crew nearly hurt a fellow Marine when a rock went flying.

  • Emory B. Ashurst  |  WWII  |  2nd Marine Division  |  4:30

    When the Marines hit Tarawa, there was a vast coral reef which prevented the Higgins boats from reaching the shore. Emory Ashurst was lucky to not be in the first wave, walking over the reef. He got a ride in on an amphibious tractor. Many who walked in were killed. He remembers the fine job done by the Navy Corpsmen, who came in alongside the Marines.

  • Emory B. Ashurst  |  WWII  |  2nd Marine Division  |  5:42

    The trip to Saipan was normal for a Marine, stuffed in the bottom of a ship. Emory Ashurst was a bomb disposal specialist and he recalls several incidents from Saipan and Tinian. He survived all the munitions and a little Dengue fever as well.

  • Emory B. Ashurst  |  WWII  |  Multiple Units  |  7:18

    On his way back to the States after the battles of Saipan and Tinian, at a church service in Hawaii, Emory Ashurst wondered why the chaplain said, "You'll never go home." When he got there, he understood. He wasn't home yet, though. After more demolitions training, he was deployed again to Okinawa.

  • Emory B. Ashurst  |  WWII  |  Multiple Units  |  4:15

    There is an outstanding esprit de corps with Marines and Emory Ashurst knows at least one reason why. He served with the Marines and then the Army. That put him in some curious situations while in the Army.

  • Emory B. Ashurst  |  WWII  |  Marine Corps Engineer School  |  2:42

    Between two South Pacific deployments, Emory Ashurst was at the demolitions school at Camp Lejeune. He was giving a safety lecture one day when a corporal started complaining that it wasn't needed. He should have been listening more closely.

  • Emory B. Ashurst  |  WWII  |  Multiple Units  |  3:08

    When Emory Ashurst was on Tarawa, his platoon leader asked the men if any of them were wounded. He and several others said yes, but they all thought their wounds were very minor and declined to be put in for a Purple Heart. He has one now, anyway, thanks to that platoon leader.

  • Emory B. Ashurst  |  Korea  |  Multiple Units  |  3:40

    He was tired of war and service, but he still found himself trying to get back in the Marine Corps. Emory Ashurst had to settle for the Army, but it worked out for 17 more years serving his country. In Korea he was a communications specialist and was fortunate to face no combat.

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