China Marine

My dad was in Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 29th Marines. 1/29 was part of the regiment that took Sugarloaf Hill, the bloodiest action in the bloodiest battle of World War II. More people were killed during the Battle of Okinawa than in Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined.

Dad was on the far left side of his company's formation as they headed south toward the narrow part of the island where Sugarloaf Hill stands. Sometime during the first week of fighting there he got shot in the butt and fell into a railroad ravine. While he was lying alone and wounded, his best buddy from high school came strolling (Dad's word) down the tracks. Neither knew the other had joined the Marines. Mr. C picked Dad up and hauled him back behind friendly lines.

The 22nd Marines took the hill after almost a month of fighting. E. B. Sledge, author of "With the Old Breed", was one of many heroes of that battle. His narrative of the action is arguably the best war book in America letters.

Dad recovered from his injuries and continued fighting until the Marines and Army took the rest of Okinawa. After the battle, the Twenty-ninth Marines redeployed to secure the retrograde of Japanese troops from China. One month they were fighting for their lives and the next they were defending their erstwhile enemies.

That is our way, as difficult as it might be on the kids who have to do it.

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