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Today's Features

  • Fonte Ridge

    On July 22, the day following our landing, the 1st Battalion, of which I was Executive Officer (second-in command), was taken out of reserve and placed on the front line on Fonte Ridge, between the other two battalions of the 21st Marines.

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    Author’s Note: In 2007, when I wrote my first column for The Shelbyville, Kentucky Sentinel-News, I thought I would run out of years before I ran out of columns. However, after passing Milestone 101 last week, I don’t seem to be running out of either, for this is my 209th column.

    Combat loaded aboard a Naval transport

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    Planning and Training on Guadalcanal

    In January 1944, having returned from a successful Bougainville campaign, we began intense training for our next campaign, planned initially as an invasion of Kavieng, New Ireland, in Papua, New Guinea, 300 miles north of Bougainville.

    However, in February, the outer screen of Japanese island defenses had been penetrated by the seizure of bases in the Marshall Islands, including Kwajalein and Eniwetok. In March and April, landings in the Admiralty Islands and Hollandia established additional shore bases.

  • Later on Bougainville, while the Executive Officer (second-in-command) of the 1st Battalion, Major Eugene Strayhorn, a former Vanderbilt football star, and I were occupying our rudimentary advanced command post, a small mortar shell, the size of a hand grenade dropped into our hole.

    Fortunately after striking my carbine, and breaking its stock, it did not explode, so my Marine Corps career was not terminated. Strayhorn’s immediate reaction was “Van, they’ve got the range. Let’s get the hell out of here.”

  • The First Battalion continued its westward advance beyond the front lines to reach its objective where a stream was in front and the sea on the left flank. It then placed into effect it’s long-practiced SOP (Standing Operating Procedure) for jungle perimeter defense. Each of the three rifle companies, supported by one of my machine gun platoons to form the framework of the defense, occupied a third of the circle. I toured the front lines, tying in the fire plans of all automatic weapons so that continuous bands of grazing fire could be interlocked about the perimeter.

  • On September 27, 1943, while still based on Guadalcanal, we were informed that the Third Marine Division would land in the vicinity of Cape Torokina, Empress Augusta Bay, Bougainville, and seize and defend a beachhead between the Torokina and Laruma rivers. This was a lightly defended area, on the eastern shore, far from the main Japanese forces.

  • Introduction to a new series

    I have just concluded a 31-part series of columns covering my initial five years of service as a commissioned officer in the regular U. S. Marine Corps. It was based upon my Marine Corps Journal, which I kept in long hand from 1937 until journals were prohibited for security reasons in 1942.

    This series had been well received by readers of diverse interests, including a preeminent frontier painter, a senior financial consultant, and a friend who has delivered my daily newspaper for years.

  • Sculptor Jenny Hager-Vickery is proud of her latest creation.

    At 20 feet tall, Gypsy the Giraffe, a life-sized sculpture she created for the Jacksonville Zoo, is the largest she has ever done.

    “My husband actually worked on it with me as well; it was a daunting task – the largest I had made up to now was fifteen feet tall,” she said. “I call her Gyspy – that's her pet name – I name things with alliteration, so she got a ‘G’ name.”

  • Sculptor Jenny Hager-Vickery is proud of her latest creation.

    At 20 feet tall, Gypsy the Giraffe, a life-sized sculpture she created for the Jacksonville Zoo, is the largest she has ever done.

    “My husband actually worked on it with me as well; it was a daunting task – the largest I had made up to now was fifteen feet tall,” she said. “I call her Gyspy – that's her pet name – I name things with alliteration, so she got a ‘G’ name.”

  • Lucas, 9, Ruby Ann, 2, Mac, 5 and Elly, 7, Courtney, the children of Mary and Shane Courtney, raced around a vegetable stand on Vigo Road in Bagdad Monday like a group of rodeo clowns wrangling a bull back into its pen.

    The kids were serving customers at their produce stand put together to support two of their friends diagnosed with juvenile diabetes.

    "We've actually done better than I thought we would," said Lucas, as he bagged some vegetables for a customer, adding that they have raised $1,000 so far.