In that humid hot place we were required to wear sleeves rolled down and cuffs tucked into trousers to prevent vermin from biting us. Evidently this unhealthy situation on Goodenough prompted those in authority to move the First Marine Division on over to New Guinea and under the jurisdiction of MacArthur's Sixth Army stationed around Finschafen.

Our next offensive landing was to be made just across the Bismarck Sea and McArthur wanted to secure the flank before moving on north to the Philippines. In those days all news items from the Pacific war zone were prefaced "With Marines on Guadalcanal", or "MacArthurs Headquarters, South Pacific". Resenting the competition in glory hunting the general put us into our place, off the headlines and into the holds of ships as stevedores unloading army supplies.

General Kruger's staff gleefully utilized the highly trained Marines as lowly meaneals on tough work schedules, eight hours on, sixteen off. We were exasperated and took advantage of our sad plight by stealing the army 'blind'. We had been trained into the precept that no Marine does without basic needs, even if he had to steal to survive. We survived! Punching holes in cardboard boxes determining content we found replacements for all of our shaggy uniforms, fatigues, khaki, whatever.

About this time I experienced my first enemy air raids and I quickly learned to imitate the bomb weary Guadalcanal vets in digging a deep foxhole. On one unloading work party I was totally exhausted and went to sleep on a cot behind the landing boats conn. Several hours later my buddies woke me to go back to camp, our shift was finished. They told me that we had had three enemy air raids while I slept soundly on the deck.

Occasionally we attended an open-air movie a mile down the coast and sat on logs facing a screen, which was erected just inland from the beach with the bay beyond. A few sneaky Japanese pilots knew to fly along behind a line of hills just inland from the beach and therefore avoid radar detection.

One such wise guy tip toed in on us and set his sights on that brightly lit movie screen with visions of a glorious mass slaughter of hated enemy dogs. His aim was a tad high and his bomb exploded noisily just beyond the screen in the surf. Instant pandemonium among the audience as veterans instantly 'hit the deck' face down between the logs while being stomped into the gravel by uninitiated troops raced for the trees in panic.

The bomb slaughtered many innocent little fish but had no effect on the men but many very angry Marines reported to sickbay with multiple lacerations to head and face while being stomped by the mass exodus.

Admiral Nimitz had 'loaned' the First Marine Division to the army under pressure from Washington to keep the peace among the commanders of the Pacific war zone. When General MacArthur assumed command of the highly trained and battle tested First Marine Division he set them 'in their place' by sending a major league team back to the minors.... out of public attention.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10


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