The August 1944 Muster Roll footnotes that applied to 108 men stated, "…10th, Emb aboard SS Young America at Tinian, Marianas Islands; 11th, sailed therefrom; 11-23, enroute, 24, arr and disemb at Kahalui, Maui, T. H."
Rowland Lewis Addition: My memory of the SS Young America says that the number of troops aboard was so great that we received only two meals per day. That after only receiving two K-Rations per day throughout the Tinian operation made for a bunch of hungry young men. Fresh water was also in short supply and armed guards were stationed at all drinking fountains to prevent anyone from filling their canteen. Getting a drink of water usually entailed waiting several minutes in line for your turn. However, the quality of the drinking water was very much improved over the drinking water we had on Tinian. The water we had there smelled foul and tasted worse.
This is a good spot to print a memory of Russ Gross, as follows:
"I remember how the 6 x 6's at the docks in Maui, after every battle were loaded with cases of pineapples as they took the troops back to camp. (Note: The island's limited dock space always had skid loads of pineapple ready for shipment within easy grasp.) General Cates (after Iwo) sent a memo to all units that our Rec. Fund would be tapped for $10,000 to repay Alexander Baldwin Co. for goods received." (Author's note: I was never aware of any Rec. Fund?)
Twelve of our men who had been WIA, were returned to Maui independently from various hospitals around the Pacific.
Wounded in Action Returnees:
1st Lt. (Randy) Randall, having been wounded on June 19, had returned to Maui on July 25. (He missed Tinian.) Also after we returned to Maui, 13 new men joined us in August. Most of these were waiting for us when the 108 men returned on the Young America.
Rowland Lewis Addition: When we landed on Saipan Lt Randall was the Platoon Leader of the First Platoon and Sgt Leonard was the Platoon Sergeant. Sgt Leonard was evacuated on the first day and Lt Randall was hit and evacuated on June 19. I was the Acting Platoon Leader the last few days of the Saipan operation after Sgt Erickson was evacuated and I was the Acting Platoon Sergeant throughout the Tinian operation. Both Lt Randall and Sgt Leonard were back at Maui waiting for us when we arrived from Tinian. The day after we got back to Maui, Lt Randall called me in for a private conference to advise me that Sgt Leonard would resume his position as the Platoon Sergeant. I was to become the Assistant Platoon Sergeant. Lt Randall was concerned about hurting my feelings, but he needn't have been. I was relieved that I didn't have assume the burden of being Platoon Sergeant during the training cycle that was to come. Hopefully, I managed to conceal my relief from Lt. Randall.
Although it's difficult to be precise, the numbers for "C" Company at the end of August were as follows: (One reason I don't guarantee 100% statistics is that I still include some original "C" Company men in our records that were transferred within the First Battalion, such as Harry Fister, who became Battalion clerk, and Angus MacCorquodale, now a Plt. Sgt. in Headquarters Co., etc.)
We were pretty thin, and another battle was scheduled in 5 months! (We did not know this yet.)
Some well deserved promotions came through at the end of August. Jim Tobin was promoted to Captain and transferred in September to become Commanding Officer of "B" Company. (He's still "C" Co. to us.) Gordon Kraft was officially promoted to 1st Sgt. as he had taken over that post when Top Killian got hit. Willard Johnson made Platoon Sgt. Joe Bernier, Bill McVey, Homer Booth and Alva Anderson received well-earned promotions to Sgt. The longest list was Corporals:
Corporal Promotion List:
In early September, John Stram was promoted to Master Tech Sgt. (cook) and six men made P.F.C. September was mainly a rebuilding month, with 44 new men joining us, 41 of which were PFC's or Pvt.'s, and mostly young boys or married men with children who were now being drafted.
The most unusual story for September is that we transferred Bill Wetten back to the states to go to college! Bill had joined my squad back in North Carolina in November, 1942. Prior to that, Bill and I had been in the Boy Scouts together, and went to the same school. He was a star football player. He graduated a year ahead of me and had been a role model for me for years. When I had my first four day leave in September 1942, I attended a farewell party at his house, as he had just joined the Marines. From boot camp he was assigned to C-1-23 and I woke up one morning with Bill in my squad.
Leaving out the miscellaneous between then and now, in Sep 1944 the regiment offered to test anyone interested n the new college program. No one believed anything would come of it when you were in a Marine line company, but among others, Bill and I took the test. Several weeks later, Captain Eberhardt called us to the office tent. It seemed Bill and I were the only two in the battalion (or regiment?) that passed the test. Fred said that he would be damned if he would release both of us and to decide between us which one would go. It was a fast decision - I hated school, only took the test for a lark. (I still hate school.) Bill went!
One other "amusing" Muster Roll story for variety of time and travel was the saga of Gene Anderson:
Four months gone, but only 28 days in hospitals. Two weeks later, he boarded the Hendry for maneuvers.
Our numbers began to swell in September with the end of the month looking like this:
We made a net gain of only eight men in October. Eight new men joined us and ten previously WIA returned from various hospitals around the Pacific, but we lost both officers and enlisted to various transfers. There were 189 officers and men on the roll at the end of October. Our 10 WIA and now returned are as follows.
Wounded in Action Returnees:
October 12th was both sad and joyous to us. Captain Fred C. Eberhardt was promoted and transferred to Battalion Executive Officer to assist Col. Haas. Fred's military expertise had long been sought out by higher brass even as a 2nd Lt. (Ask Don Latsch.) 1st Lt. Stanley Champ McDaniel was immediately named our new C.O. and was promoted on the 20th to Captain, retro to September 30. 1st Lt. (Randy) Randall was named Company Exec. We were all happy again.
November brought about another practice landing, mainly to give a needed experience to all those who had no battle landing tests previously. We had 30 new men join in November before the 15th in addition to those who had joined over the past 3 months.
207 men on the "15th, emb aboard USS Hendry at Kahalui, Maui, T.H.; 16, sailed therefrom. 17-18, participated in amphibious exercises in the vicinity of Maalaea Bay, Maui, T.H.; 19, disemb in the vicinity of Maui Amphibious Training Center, Maui, T.H." (Opposite side of Maui from our camp.)
26 more men joined in November after the maneuvers, plus approximately 7 were on misc. duty, SK, brig, etc. - that missed the cruise. So our total roll at the end of November, 1944 was 240 officers and men. (Seven had transferred out.) Rudy Varoga and the above referenced Gene Anderson returned to us from their recuperating experiences and are included in the 240 count.
Our first December story is about Master Gunnery Sgt. James E. Farrell. I have deliberately not mentioned him in our history to date, as I knew the story would now be complete at this time.
Gunny Farrell joined "D" Company in March 1943 back in North Carolina, having come from Camp Elliot in California. I'm not sure what he was doing in Camp Elliot but there was nothing he had not done in the Marines. He was the epitome of the Old Salt. He probably joined the Marines during the Revolutionary war. No one knew how old he was, but Santa Claus would bow to him
We were lucky to get him in "C" Company with the break-up of "D" Co. in March, 1944. Officially named a weapons instructor, he was unofficially Grandpa to all of us. He could run up and down hills like a goat and there was nothing he could not do, relative to the military. He taught us to double our vocabulary in swear words - even with some I still have never heard anywhere else. Naturally, he could humble us all in the drinking department, and taught us many new dirty songs. I still don't understand some of them! (One of them got us thrown out of the Carlsbad Hotel, along with John Wayne. See Chapter 2.)
Enough of the preliminaries. Our first day on Saipan (See Chapter 5) included the death of Lt. Erwin Hall, platoon leader of the 2nd Platoon. Gunny Farrell immediately became acting Platoon Leader and remained in that position for Saipan and Tinian and the return to Maui. Our officers recommended through channels that Gunny Farrell receive a well-deserved field commission to become an officer. The request was batted around the Pacific commands and I think Washington, D.C., for four months. The request was denied (!) because Gunny Farrell was "too old to receive a commission".
Gunny replied, "If I'm too old to receive a commission, I'm too old to fight! Send me home!" They did! - on December 2, just before we departed for Iwo Jima! End of story in "C" Company. I know nothing of his subsequent life. I'm glad he missed Iwo, odds were pretty much against his surviving that one.
Only five newcomers joined us in December as we were slightly over our strength. December was another promotion month. Promoted to:
Promoted to Sergeant (6)
Promoted to Corporal (19)
25 men were promoted to PFC from PVT.
One man was reduced in rank for being absent over leave for 34 minutes! I never understood that one. There must have been more to the story. Another man was promoted to Corporal and broke to PFC in the same month. No names on the above two.
Two more men received the Purple Heart in December, that we previouly had no record of their wounds: Corp. Chas. Padgett "for wounds received on June 17" and PFC Bill Dawson "for wounds received on June 22.") Our casualty list continues to grow, even in months out of combat.
Some notices of medals were announced in December, the below all on Dec. 23rd:
The rebuilding period between Saipan/Tinian and the upcoming Iwo Jima battle did have some unusual side lights. The 4th Division got up a football team which included some ex-collegiate stars, plus a few ex-pro's, and was open to all. "C" Company's own Gerald Casey and John Cotter tried out for the team and made it! Casey and Cotter had been friends since childhood and always did things together. The football team played seven games between October and December 1944 and won six (one was a 0-0 tie), becoming the Central Pacific champions. They scored 164 points to 6 for the opponents and never had an injury time out. Even the paper put out by the Naval air station praised the team highly.
Another interesting note about Casey & Cotter. In the several years of accumulating the history of "C" Company and its 864 men that were in our company at one time or another, these were the only two persons in the battalion records that held consecutive serial numbers, Casey: 816135, and Cotter: 816136. I have never heard of this happening to any other persons in any other unit.
At recent (1990's) reunions I have heard arguments as to how "C" Company was transported to Iwo Jima. Some say by troop ship and some say by LST. The correct answer is both. On December 31, 1944 fifty "C" Company men embarked aboard the USS Newberry and sailed for Pearl Harbor where they waited for the rest of the company(s). The balance of "C" Company embarked on LST #716 on January 10, 1945. More about this in Chapter 7, but the following is the list of 50 men who went on the Newberry:
Newberry Travelers (50)
Jos Tassiello also boarded but was removed and transferred out at Pearl Harbor on January 20.
If you are on the Newberry list you went as far as Saipan and then transferred to LST #716. If you are not on the list you went from Maui to Iwo all the way on LST #716. Exceptions were Ritchie, Givens, Wacaster, Capt. Eberhardt and Don Latsch, who stayed aboard the Newberry right up to the landing on Iwo. Also Capt. Tobin transferred to LST #642, and Attilli and MacCorquodale transferred to LST #723.
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