I could write an entire book about the Marine Corp’s experience in the Pacific during World War II, but ten volumes and millions of words could not give these guys justice.
Being a Marine in the Pacific during World War II meant three things: suck, suck, and more suck. Going from one hot steaming pile of shit island to the next, all while fighting Japanese soldiers who would rather die than give you an inch. If you got through it all to the end, you ended up in some of the worse fighting in the war on Okinawa. Having lived and trained on Okinawa, I can’t imagine how hard it was to fight there. Triple canopy jungle, heat, rough terrain, and lots of caves for the enemy to hide in.
Rather than going through the entire island hopping campaign, I’m going to take you through some stories of the Marines who lived it. I’ll do as much as I can to give these tough son’s of bitches justice. Today, we’ll start with Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone.
Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone
John Basilone was a one man Jap killing machine. Before joining the Marine Corps, he joined the Army in 1934 and became a boxing champ. Tired of beating the crap out of his fellow soldiers, Basilone joined the Marine Corps. Not long after, the Empire of Japan decided it wanted to face the business end of a U.S. assault, and launched a sneak attack on the Navy’s Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor while simultaneously invading and occupying numerous tiny islands in the Pacific to use them as air fields. Sixth months later, the Marines made their assault on Guadalcanal with Sergeant John Basilone leading the pack. The Marines crawled off the beach and fought through rain and a shitload of suck to take Henderson Airfield.
At this point, the Japanese leadership began to freak the fuck out and they got desperate. They came up with the brilliant plan of gathering up the 3000 soldiers they had left and sending them straight at the Marines’ newly established defenses in waves to retake the field. While this was probably scary as fuck for the Marines, the machine gunners likely got the biggest hard ons of their lives as they spotted the Japanese troops running recklessly into their fields of fire. One of these machine gunners was John Basilone.
For the next 72 hours, the Japanese sent wave after wave of at the Marines. Without sleep, food, and little resupply, the Marines spent every minute of those three days turning those Japanese soldiers into hamburger meat. The Japanese assault was relentless and their attacks began to take their toll on the Marines. By day 3, Basilone’s detachment was down to himself and two other Marines, one of whom only had one hand left. Nevertheless, Basilone kept his .30 caliber browning heavy machine gun running, and mowing down Japanese soldiers. When needed he carried the 100lb weapon from position to position, while holding the scorching barrel with his bare hands because he’d lost his glove. When the machine gun jammed, Basilone pulled out his pistol and began shooting the soldiers from as little as 10 feet away. When the machine gun was nearly out of ammo, Basilone fought his way back to the airbase to get more, and then fought his way back with only his pistol. Back in his position, he continued to pour hot lead into the Japanese. By the third day, the assaulting Japanese regimen was annihilated and hundreds of bodies lay in front of Basilone’s position.
After the battle, Basilone was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions on Guadalcanal. He was ordered to return to the United States and sell War Bonds. Treated like a celebrity, Basilone spent the next few months on tour. Nevertheless, he didn’t want to be famous, Basilone wanted to kill the enemy. So he got himself sent back to the Pacific where he landed on Iwo Jima. On the Iwo Jima, Gunnery Sergeant Basilone ran from position to position pushing his marines to get off the beach before they were shredded by Japanese gunfire. Seeing an enemy pillbox, he grabbed a satchel of explosives and destroyed that motherfucker. When a group of tanks got stuck in the mud, Basilone ran out into the open, to push them out so they could be used to destroy the Japanese gun positions. Unfortunately, Basilone was then struck by mortar shrapnel and died near the end of the battle. He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his actions.
To Be Continued . . .