We had gone to the graveyard to visit our dead for the last time. The ground began to shake and we were bouncing up and down. It wasn't too nice of a way to say goodbye to the friends that we were leaving behind, and very sad for us. It was good to know, however, that we were finally leaving that island. I also remember Bougainville for its very heavy and thick jungle with mud and swamps up above our knees. We had to cut fire lanes through the thick jungle in order to set up a defense, and when we were in attack, we had to be on the lookout for fire lanes that the Japanese had set up.
We left Bougainville late in the afternoon on December 25, 1943, to board the transports to take us-back to Guadalcanal (our home base) The same transport had brought Army troops and disembarked them on the morning of December 25. So, the next day, December 26, we had chow that was fit for a king. The sailors aboard the transport told us that they had a choice to have Christmas dinner a day early with the Army or a day later with the Marines. Well, it made us feel very good to know that they chose to have their Christmas dinner a day later with the Marines. While on Bougainville, we had gone on a four-day patrol under the command of 1st Lt. Miller. While on this patrol, we found one of our planes that was shot down. How long it was there, I do not know. The odor from the dead pilot was the worst smell I can ever remember. It was just awful. Anyway we buried the pilot, and cut the strings from his parachute and used them to tie our dog tags around our neck.We began to search for the anti-aircraft gun that shot his plane down, but could not find it. Although we did encounter some Jap fire, they were just a small patrol and we did way with them fast.
Upon our arrival at Guadalcanal we had the hard task of cleaning up and cutting down the high grass and weeds that grew while we were gone. We also had to cut trees down. In cutting the grass, weeds and trees, we used nothing but our own bayonets. After we got our camp in order, which we called "Coconut Grove”, we began receiving replacements to fill up our ranks again. We then went into a very hard training program. We also had a lot of working parties to unload ships. But we did have our good times on the canal. We did lot of singing. In fact, here is one of the songs we made up that I still remember. It goes to the tune of AS TIME GOES BY:
Trip to Bougainville was a mighty thrill
The Japs sure were surprised
To see the third Marines 0 by
A Grumman in the sky
The Navy standing by
The Seabees were there too
The Army will be here later on
As time goes by
Moonlight and shadow crawling all around
Time to dig our foxholes
In that muddy ground
If we don't dig them
We won't be around
That’s plain to see
A zero diving down
Strafing all round
This is no time to clown
Remember what you learned be careful
And you’re homeward bound.
That was one of the songs we made up. There was and there one that goes to the tune of DARK TOWN STRUTTERS BALL:
Oh, machine gun bullets
Were a-whizzin around me
My tin hat felt so very small
And my ears began to pound
So I hug the ground like mustard plaster
Into the jungle I began to crawl
While all around me the bombs did fall
And when I heard those 1-O-5’s
I didn't think that I was alive
And that is how I got those foxhole blues.
Those were just some of the songs that we made up and would sing.
We also played a lot of volleyball ball and would use a coconut to play football on the beach. We would also swim out to a beached Japanese ship and dive off of it. We had no liberty and the training was very hard with long hikes in the hot sun. But all in all, we had our good times.
Twice we were to be aboard ship for other campaigns and both times the operations were called off. Believe me, those cancellations were very disappointing, after all that hard training.
Finally we got word that we were going to make the assault on Guam. I just can't begin to tell you how happy the outfit was.
We also lost a lot of our men due to Filariosis, (I believe that is the medical word that is used for it) but we called it "Mu Mu". Anyway quite a few of our men came down with it and they had to be sent back to the states. That meant mere replacements. We also made up a little verse or song about that. It went to the tune of, THAT OLD GANG OF MINE:
I get that lonesome feeling
When I hear that sick call go
Those Mu Mu cases are breaking up
That old gang of mine.
Now an then we'll meet again
And the first thing we seem to say,
"How's your MU MU!!”
Now please don't think that all we did was sit around and sing. Like I said before, we had a very hard training schedule, and on the canal, January and February are the rainy me times, and believe me it would rain day and night. Our entire camp would be flooded. In fact, the inside of our tent looked like the Guadalcanal River, (that's what we called it.) Everything was wet and damp.
But the rain did not stop the training. Every morning in very heavy rain, and on a muddy field we did close order drill for almost an hour. We would then sit on the muddy ground in the rain for schooling on different tactics, learning how to give orders and listen for orders in the right way. Then you’re creeping and crawling and snooping and pooping, as we called it. In fact, I think we did more creeping and crawling than we did walking. We would then would then go into the jungle and have long sessions on jungle fighting and sessions on all other types of fighting that we may encounter. We would go out on night problems, and in fact, sometimes we wouldn't get back to camp for three or four days. During all of this training, we had to find time for our working parties to unload ships; In fact sometimes I think combat was a snap compared to the training.
Our battalion Chaplain was Father Kempker and he was a wonderful person. He called us “His Boys." He took part in everything that we did. He would participate with us in playing ball, singing, etc. We had a lot of fun with him. But he had his strong side also. He was very hard on the Catholic men of our battalion for singing foul language or not attending mass on Sundays when available. One Sunday, at mass, he told us that during he Bougainville campaign he would send home the personal belongings of Marines who ha been killed, and that he would disregard all the filthy pictures and filthy jokes that he found on them. He just sent home all the decent stuff. Then he told us that next campaign would be different .. he said he was giving us fair warning that whatever he found on us would be sent home. He said that he could hear our loved ones saying, “Oh, that's not my Johnny!" So you better be careful what you carry. When we didn’t know he was in our company and we were using foul language like Marines do, and someone would see him and say, "Oh, I’m sorry Father, I didn't see you." He would get very angry and reply, "Does it mean if you don’t see me that you can still use that Language? When in combat, he took it very hard when we had casualties. He had been seen crying several times. And on the beach at Guam, our casualties were very heavy. He was doing his best to give the last rights to as many of the men as he could. I heard one time he just looked up at the sky and said, "Oh God, look what’s happening to my boys!” When I we hit he also gave me the Last Rights and wrote to my mother. It was a beautiful letter. The last I heard of him was several years ago. He was very sick and was living with his sister in Florida.
In the middle of May 1944, we got word we were to leave for our next campaign. We packed our sea bags and they were picked up by our rear echelon troops; we jus kept our combat gear. Then we boarded transports and went to the Marshall Islands, where we assault troops were transferred to LST's. What the letters LST stand for, I still do not know. I just know we called them LARGE SLOW TARGETS. While on board the LST we had no bunks to sleep in so we made ourselves as comfortable as we could on deck. The LST was loaded with equipment, so we just put our gear under a piece of equipment and made ourselves at home.
I remember a Navy Ensign whose cabin was where we could look into it through a porthole. He would have his duty belt with ‘45 pistol in its holster hanging on a hook on the far side of his cabin and we could see it through the porthole. Well, one of our men by the name of Cycorski, (I can't remember his first name) wanted the 45 pistol very badly. He kept planning on how he was going to get it. He found long pole somewhere, and when the Ensign was asleep he put that pole through the porthole, and then he lifted the duty belt from the hook and brought it toward him, and now he had his ‘45 pistol. I guess that poor Ensign went crazy trying to find out what happened to his duty belt and pistol. I guess he figured out where it was because the next day a message to the crew of the LST came over the P.A. system saying, 'Lock all lockers and sea bags, we have Marines aboard." We heard that our Company Commander, who was Captain Stevens went to he Skipper of the LST and demanded an apology.
On deck of the LST was a huge earthmover and the tires on it looked to be about 5 feet high. Anyway, it was loaded with rolls of barbed wire. On each roll was a tag, which said J & L STEEL CO., PITTSBURGH, PA. Well, I couldn't believe that barbed wire came only few miles from where I lived. I made a big thing of that to the guys in our platoon. Whenever there was an air raid, everyone would look for a safe place to take cover. During one raid, a fellow named Steve Kuzma and me went under that huge earth move for cover. When the raid was over, we were showing others the safe place we had, because that earthmover was solid iron and a bullet would never penetrate that iron. Then a Marine named Nick Gill said, "You dumb bastards, what would happen to both of you if one of those tires were hit?” Steve and I just looked at each other and realized that if a tire was hit, we would have been smashed into a piece of you know what! So from then on we would think before we acted.
While aboard the LST we still had to keep fit, so every morning our platoon had to have two hours of exercise. After the exercise we would have school for the coming campaign. There was a huge map of Guam and we were schooled on where we were to hit, who was to be on our left and who was to be on our right, who was in support and who was in reserve. Our Platoon leader, 2nd Lieutenant Dunbar, said he wanted each one of us to know as much about this operation as the Company Commander, and be able to take over if the time would ever come.
We got word that the 2nd and 4th Marine divisions were to hit Saipan, and two days later we were to hit Guam. Well, we were thrilled and honored that Guam was our assignment because it would be the first American Island to be retaken. Then we get bad news. The 2nd and 4th divisions were having a hard time and the going was tough on Saipan. So, we were told our D-day was cancelled and we would be in floating reserve in case we were needed on Saipan. We wanted that Guam campaign very badly, but if w were needed on Saipan we were more than glad to go in. We stayed in the waters off Saipan for a good while and under constant air attack. Finally we started back to the Marshall Islands.
A lot of us had no dungarees we were aboard the LST so long. In trying to wash our dungarees we would tie them to a rope and throw them overboard in the ocean in order to clean them. Well, sometimes the rope would break and there would go our clothes. A lot of the sailors would give us some of their clothes to wear. We got along very well with the crew on that LST.
When we reached the Marshall Islands we were issued new clothing and whatever new gear we needed. We went ashore for some exercise and had a lot of swimming parties to help us keep fit. After few days we set out to sea again and then we were told that W-day was set for July 21. Again the excitement began to mount, Lieutenant Dunbar started the exercise and school sessions. We were all hoping there wouldn't be another cancellation. Down in the hold of the LST were the LCVP, or Am-Tracks as we called them. We were to go shore in them. Each platoon was assigned a certain Am-Track.
Early in the morning of July 21, it wasn't daylight yet, we had chow, and then we all got ready for the assault on Guam. We checked our weapons and whatever we thought we needed in our packs. We smeared camouflage paint allover our hands and faces, then it was down to our assigned Am-Track. The front of the LST opened and out we went with our friends, the sailors on the LST hollering, "GOOD Luck, and give 'em hell!” It was daylight when we left the LST and once out in the ocean we formed a huge circle and began going around and around. The sight was something to see. The big guns from our Navy were blasting away, and our planes were also raising hell. Finally we began to head for he beach and got the word to “Lock and Load." All the Am-Tracks were now going in abreast and at half throttle. Then a speedboat went by in front of us with a checkered flag (like they use in automobile racing). The Am-Tracks went to full throttle, and we were told to keep our heads down, but the excitement was too high and we wanted to see what was going on, so very few put their heads down.
I know you hear a lot of stories about being scared on the way in to the beach, but I think the excitement was so high that you forgot about being scared. After all, most of us were 19 or 20 years of age and it was a very thrilling time for us. If we had a choice, most of us wouldn't have wanted to be any where else but there at that time. When we got close to the beach the Am-Tracks began to hit the coral reef and we were bounced around like a tennis ball.
When we reached the beach someone hollered, "Let’s go."
The backs of the Am-Tracks that we went in on did not open like the ones that were used in later campaigns. We had to climb over the sides. There was a lot of fire on the beach, and some of the Am-Tracks didn’t make it. One of our first casualties was Lieutenant Dunbar, he was hit in the face. I liked him very much.In civilian life he was a schoolteacher from Georgia. He was a fine leader and we hated to see him leave us. Our Executive Officer, 1st Lieutenant Bryson, took over our platoon. We were receiving a lot of mortar and artillery fire on the beach, so we began to move inland.
Our objective was to take Chonito Cliff. We go to the base of the cliff, and up until now, it seemed like a one-way fight in favor of the Japs. We were still taking a lot of mortar and artillery fire, then the word came to stay put. At that, the Navy opened fire again. We could hear the shells whistling over our heads one after another. They were really giving Chonito Cloff a plastering. That must of kept up well over a half an hour. We heard it was the cruiser St. Luis doing most of the shelling. When the shelling stopped, we began to move up the hill. About half way up we began to hit Jap machinegun fire and other small arms fire coming from caves and other concealed places. With grenades, flamethrowers, BAR and rifle fire, we were able to knock them out. It took a while and we suffered some casualties, but we were able to reach the top of the cliff.
Our platoon was only there a few minutes when mortar fire began falling on us again. A mortar round fell very close to our squad, throwing us all over the hill. When I looked up I saw friend of mine, named Dan Born, about 10 yards to my right. He was sitting in an upright position with blood allover him. At the same time I saw him, I heard the crack of a Jap rifle and saw a few stones kicked up along side of Born. I rushed over and grabbed him and began to pull him down the hill sliding on our behinds to where our corpsmen were. Half way down the hill, Born stopped and was crying. I grabbed him again and began to side down the hill. At that moment, I felt a thump on my helmet and heard a weird sound. I knew then a Jap sniper had fired at me and the bullet had grazed off of my helmet. When we got to the bottom of the hill, our 2nd Battalion were going up the draw between the two hills. One of their corpsmen said he would take care of Born. I then looked at my helmet and saw the camouflage cloth over it was ripped and there was a slight dent in my helmet.
I began going up the hill again and then I saw my platoon coming back down. The Japs had zeroed in on the hill with their mortars. We were back to the base of the hill again. Then the Navy opened fire, and again we heard the whistling of shells going over our heads. We reorganized and when the shelling stopped, our orders were to take the beach road on our left flank and to take Adelup Point. Going down that road we were in a constant firefight. When we got to Adelup Point the Nips were dug in and our company did a good job in cleaning them out.
By the time we took the point it was late evening, so we dug in for the night. A fellow by the name of "Sailing" (I think his first name was Jim) was my foxhole partner. We expected a counter attack the first night, but all we got was harassment from the Nips. You could always tell when a Jap got too close to someone’s hole. You would hear two or three rounds from a M-1 go off very fast. BANG -- BANG -- BANG!! All night there was sporadic fire and when daylight came we were surprise by so many dead Japs lying around.
After a check on our casualties we had during the night, we were set to move out again. All day we hit resistance and were not able to advance very far. That evening we dug in, and about 10 yards in front of our holes we would thrust two sticks into the ground about 4 or 5 yards apart and tie a a piece of string to each end of the sticks. Then we would tie two or three empty C-ration cans to the string, with few stones in the cans. In case a Jap would crawl toward our holes, there was a good chance he would hit those cans and that would warn us to be ready for him.
The next two days were about the same as the two days before. We were just able to make small advances, but at nights we kept being harassed by the Japs and could get no sleep. On the fifth day we went into attack and this time we were able to make a very large gain. I couldn't tell how far the advance was, but we gained a lot of ground. When evening came we were on a hill, so we dug in on the reverse side of the hill. We could only dig our hole few inches deep because the ground was all rock. We got word that they had brought hot coffee to us. Sailing went back to get both of us coffee while I continued trying to dig our hole. That night started out on the quiet side, but then about one o'clock that morning all hell broke loose. First they began shelling us. When the shelling stopped, the Japs came at us with an all out Bonzai attack. They were screaming and yelling and every now and then there would be a loud cry saying, "You die!!" This went on almost all night. We began screaming an hollering back at them. We were using very foul language and calling the Japs every filthy name we could thing of, and saying to come up and fight and see who dies.
Sailing and I had our grenades lined up in hole and we began rolling them down the hill when we heard their voices getting close. I heard a thump outside our hole and then a Jap grenade go off. I then felt a jolt on my rifle. At the same time the fellows on our left were hollering for support. I went to fire my rifle and it wouldn't fire. Later I found out that piece of fragment from that Jap grenade hit the gas cylinder tube of my rifle and bent it. That's why I couldn't fire. Anyway, at that time I didn't know what had happened to my rifle. So I began pulling back on the operating handle trying to get my rifle to fire. I happened to look to my right and saw a Jap crawling up to our hole. I reached for my K-bar knife and at the same time called for Sailing who was still firing his BAR to the left. A second Jap came to the front of our hole and fired a pistol hitting me in the left shoulder. At the same time the Jap fired, Sailing turned to his right and with his BAR firing cut them both down. We had a large supply of grenades in our hole and as the Japs were hollering and screaming below us, Sailing and I would throw grenades down. I called back to our C.P. and informed Cpl. Neamjack that I needed another rifle. He then sent me another M-1, where he got it, I don't know.
After I found what happened to my M-1, I felt very bad, because I sure did take care of that rifle. I still remember the serial number of that rifle -- 1440514. It really was my baby.
The attack kept up all night and word came down the line to "Watch behind you," because the Japs had broken through at different parts of our lines. By daybreak it was just about over, and so was I. I was so weak from loss of blood that I had a hard time holding my head up. How I got down to the beach, I can’t remember. I can only remember they were giving me blood plasma and Father Kempker was talking to me. I don’t even remember how I got off that hill or who helped me.
While I was in the hospital, I received a letter from Sailing and he said he Jap bodies were two and three deep in front of our hole. All the wounded were put on a LST for first aid, then we were transferred to hospital ship and I was taken to the operating room for surgery on my left shoulder. After a few days aboard the hospital ship I came down with Dengue fever. I was pretty sick for a while. Then after days at sea, the ship pulled in to Hawaii. We were taken to Sea Heights Naval hospital. There were quite a few others from my company there, but we were in different wards. We still saw each other. I would spend several months there. During my stay at the hospital, I began to feel very low, so one day I told my doctor that I wasn't feeling myself and felt homes sick for my company. He told me a lot of men feel that way and that is called survivors' guilt and in time I'll get over it. Then in a few months I was sent to Oakland Naval Hospital in California. That was the end of my days as a combat Marine.
I can honestly say that it was a privilege and an honor to have served with L-3-3."
Daniel J. Terlizzi
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