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Features

  • At this point in my current series, having completed writing about combat experiences during WW II, it seems timely to write about “Heroes and Heroism.”

    I have thought a great deal about real heroes and their acts of heroism. Certainly my front-line machine gunners on Guam who held their ground and died, while others fell back and survived, were heroes, unrecognized and unsung

  • Captain C. C. “Chipping Charlie” Anderson

    In February 1945, as a 28-year-old lieutenant colonel, commanding an infantry battalion, the 1ST Battalion of the 3RD Marines, I embarked with my troops aboard USS Frederick Funston for the Iwo Jima invasion. My battalion, reinforced by attached units, including an engineering platoon, a pioneer platoon, a medical collecting section, was designated BLT 1-3 (Battalion Landing Team 1 of the 3rd Marine Regiment.)

  • In defeating the all-out Japanese attack of July 25-26, our Marines had broken the enemy’s back.  The day following, the battalion commander moved his command post from the foot of the cliff to the top. Ordinarily it would have been a poor location, for enemy fire directed at our frontlines would also pin down those in the command post and hinder their exercise of command. However, in this case, organized resistance at the front had ceased.

    Liberating ‘Scotch’ whisky

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • July 25, 1942

    M.B. New River, N.C. – I was detached from WASP on 25 June after my request to remain on board was disapproved by headquarters.

  • May 13, 1942

    Two days south of Scapa. This trip has been more gratifying than the last. Over the weekend the Spits we delivered to Malta shot down or destroyed 110 Axis planes [Generally in agreement with historical records of the Siege of Malta], losing only seven themselves.

  • Want to jazz up your workout or even begin a fun new one?

    You might want to pop in at Jazzercise on Main Street and join in the fun.

    Diane Young smiled as she began to warm up.

    “I really like it,” she said. “I had a total knee replacement September 13 and this has really helped me.”

    Nel Grin, instructor and owner of the facility, said that having fun is the key to a successful exercise routine in terms of longevity.

  • Note: I would like to express again my appreciation to Wendy Noble, younger sister of Spitfire pilots Jerry and Rod Smith, who has provided advice and copies of her trove of documents concerning her brothers’ lives. In doing so I would like to quote from The Spitfire Smiths by Rod Smith, with Christopher Shores. In his Introduction, Shores writes: “Throughout I have been greatly assisted by Wendy Noble without whose efforts I certainly could not have completed this account...”

  • Author’s Note: This is my 200th column in a series “History Researched and Recalled,” published in The Sentinel-News since 2007.

    [I continue to depart from My Marine Corps Journal temporarily to describe the hazardous missions of a spitfire pilot.]

    Selected entries in Jerry Smith’s Diary:

  • 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.”

  • May 3, 1942

    Yesterday, we unmoored and stood down the Clyde, anchoring in Greenock. The weather was perfect and the green hills were very tempting. I went ashore for a few hours in that famous old shipbuilding town, drank a couple of beers, walked miles, and noticed some ruins from last year’s air raids. It’s amazing the difficulty one has in buying whiskey in Scotland. Underway at 0530 this morn.

    May 7, 1942

  • April 22, 1942

    The Wasp’s second “campaign” is nearly over – the “Battle of the Mediterranean,” the first having been our “conquest” of Martinique. [An attempt at jest]

    The morning of 19th we passed through the Straits of Gibraltar on my mid watch. The lights of Tangier and Ceuta were illuminating the African shore, but the Gibraltar side was blacked out except for navigational lights.

  • As he gave a haircut and a shave to a customer, Robert Marshall talked about how the thriving African American business community on Henry Clay Street has all but disappeared since he opened his barbershop there in 1960.

    “We’re were just discussing that at the Martin Luther King service a few weeks ago, the way it was, compared to how it is now,” he said, expertly using a comb to shape the customer’s new do.