a little about yourself & your interests
I'm 55 years old. Dad fought on Guadalcanal, I'm a Vietnam submarine
vet, always loved history began reading at age 6, writing at 47. Been
traveling to the Pacific since 1995 - Fiji, Tonga New Zealand, New Hebrides,
Guadalcanal, New Guinea and Rabaul.
My interest in WWII history began at a very
early age. In the mid-1980's, focus developed to the Southwest
Pacific Area, especially the Guadalcanal campaign. Began studying
the 146th Infantry in 1990 and wrote the official history. My father, Captain Prentiss R. McLeod was with the
147th Infantry (37th Division) on Guadalcanal. He landed 4 November
1942 with Carlson's Raiders at Aola Bay. Dad was severely wounded
by Japanese artillery fire on 30 January 1943 at the Bonegi River
engagement. Dad died in 1968.
Tell about your book & honors
I wrote Always
Ready, The Story of the 147th Infantry in 1995. Most of the
book concerns the US Army's pre-war development, early deployment
into the South Pacific and the Guadalcanal campaign. The main chapter,
which details the final battle on Guadalcanal is an in-depth story
from both sides. We acquired the diary of former Japanese Lt. Toraji
Matsumoto. Toraji was the officer which directly opposed my father's
company at the Bonegi River. Toraji's story begins with leaving
japan and ends with his return to Rabaul. He was one of a handful
of survivors from the 'Yano' battalion.
Also, wrote the official history of the U.S. Involvement
in Tonga during WWII for the Tongan government in 1997. I was appointed
assistant historian for the 1st Marine Division Association in 2001.
What is the Legacy of the 147th Infantry
The 147th seporated from the 37th Division before going overseas in
April, 1942. Only rejoining
them for a short period on Guadalcanal, then separated again for the
rest of the war.
The 4th Marines on Emirau was relived by the
147th Infantry Regiment on 11 April 1944. They were there to
build and guard an airfield with the Seabees. The 147th
was the only infantry regiment who had ever built an airfield before
(Tonga 1942). They served on Saipan, Tinian, Okinawa and Iwo Jima, where fighting continued after the USMC left the island,
until July 1945. Companies, groups and individuals of the 147th fought
on all these battlefields. Company
D transported and guarded the 'Little Boy' atomic bomb.
The 37th had several Medal of Honors awarded
among their officer corps. The 147th sent 4 officers and 60 enlisted
men to CBI / Merrils Marauders as jungle fighting specialists. The 3rd
Bn. commander of the 147th became the 3rd BN. commander of the Marauders. He
won a Silver Star on Guadalcanal and two more in Burma. Many
other 147th Guadalcanal veterans became instructors to the Army and
Marines on jungle warfare.
Talk about your overseas trips, and their purpose
Rabaul is by far my favorite. Have many close friends
there, great fishing, food and drink. Always something new to see
or do. I help on M.I.A. research, and work with Ronnie Day of E.T.S.U.
on history projects. Started making annual research trips to the South Pacific
in 1995. Have visited: Guadalcanal, Tulagi, Gavatu, Tanambogo, Florida
Island, Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga, New Zealand, Australia, New Guinea, Rabaul.
Many of these are multiple visits.
Although Rabaul is my favorite 'go-see' place, Guadalcanal
is my area of research and writing. Currently working on a new book
about the Battle of the Tenaru. This will start with the development
of the 1st Marine Division in 1940, continue through the landings at
Guadalcanal; Tulagi; Gavatu; Tanamboro and conclude with the Tenaru
battle of 21 August 1942. If there is interest, will probably write
a very detailed study of the land battles on guadalcanal. They will
include both US Army and USMC participation.
What were your
feelings about "The Thin Red Line"
One must remember that James Jones wrote it in the 60s and used the
language of the 1960's. The scenes, ships, weapons, etc. Were very incorrect.
I counted 280+ technical error on my first viewing. I think it portrayed
the Japanese as cowards and defeated foes. They definitely were neither.
about your relationship with Shoichi Morii
and I met at Bloody Ridge, Guadalcanal on 7 Aug 1997. He was
the first Japanese vet I ever made. My father was severely
wounded on Guadalcanal thus I was somewhat Anti-Japanese.
As we spoke, through a translator, I saw the pain in his eyes.
Somehow I finally understood that all vets of WWII shared
the same loss (friends and family). His pain took away the
anger in my heart.
Shoichi and i have become
very close friends. We write and share our thoughts constantly.
I greatly respect him as a man and veteran. He has become
like as a surrogate dad to me. Shoichi was in China prior
to being posted to Rabaul in 1943. He was in a 75mm gun company.
They were in the hills near the barge tunnels. His book, is roughly
translated, "Guadalcanal and Tom Mcleod, son of veteran" .
It deals with forgiving, understanding and honoring former
enemy veterans. Also, he donated some of his
artifacts to the museum.