Camp Maui and Preparations for Next Conflict
Note at the end of Chapter 3, the main body of "C" Company arrived on February 17,1944 at Maui, T.H.. The natives called it Maui No Ka Oi (literally: "Maui - None the Better" or "The Best"). I think all our survivors have always remembered it that way.
Heath O'Briant has a nice memory of our arrival as follows:
"I (Heath O'Briant) was in Cpl Blizzard's machine gun squad, and upon returning from the Roi Namur we were put on a working party hauling supplies from the docks at Kahalui to Camp Maui. It was almost dark on our last trip and the truck was loaded with beer for the slop chute (beer hall to the uninitiated). There was a very steep hill just before reaching the camp, and our truck was going so slow that we were able to hide a few cases of beer in the bushes beside the road. Afterwards we were able to recover the beer, and a good time was had by all."
At this point it must be brought out that thievery among Marines was unheard of - (handled privately by "accidents") - however it was unofficially ok to steal from Uncle Sam, and many ingenious methods and means were devised. (See also Russ Gross' comments about the bill the 4th Division had to pay to the Baldwin Pineapple Co., later on.) The job description (unofficial) of my own job of Property Sergeant was to be the Biggest Thief in the Battalion while preventing "C" Co. men from stealing from my storeroom.
The first important event after arriving at our base camp on Maui was the dissolving of the heavy weapons Company "D" - mostly assimilated into other 1st Battalion companies. We gained 49 good men. The company history to date has included these 49 men as mentioned several times. The heavy weapons company was made up of three machine gun platoons and an 81 MM mortar platoon. In the breakup, each of the three rifle companys got a machine gun platoon. The rifle companies then had six machine guns divided into three machine gun sections (prior to the breakup the rifle companys had two machine guns). The heavy weapons company was armed with water cooled 30 caliber machine guns. These we changed to air cooled machine guns after the breakup although the water cooled guns were still available, if needed. The 81 MM mortar platoon went to Headquaters Company of the Battalion.
At the end of March, "C" Company had about 228 men listed on general duty. 23 of these same men had been promoted on March 16. (Phil Fisher, Dave Hartgan and myself made sergeant, doubling our pay to $78.00 a month.) We also had 3 men in the brig, 10 on mess duty, and gunny Kraft was detached to Oahu for 5 weeks at a TQM school. Four men were transferred out.
229 of our men, (per April Muster, footnote A) - "12th, embarked aboard USS Livingston at Kahalui, TH; 13th, sailed therefrom. 13-17, participated in amphibious exercises. 18, disembarked in the vicinity of Marine Amphibious Training Center, Maui, TH." About 10 men did not go on this short trip because of sickness or other important business. One man was transferred.
About a week after these maneuvers we had our third tragic, premature death. The company was observing mortar fire on the field range when a short shell landed in a group of men. About 6 or 7 men were wounded, but I do not know who they were. (If anyone can help with this info please let us know.) We do know that Jimmy Osterhoudt "died at 12 noon 24 Apr 44 of hemorrhage, traumatic pulmonary and hepatic, severe. Character excel. 27 Apr 44, remains interred in U.S. Army cemetery, grave #17, plot #28, Makawao, Maui, TH." James G. Osterhoudt, Jr. was a well-liked boy from upstate New York. In the early 1950's I ran into a relative by that name in Painted Post, N.Y. I do have a list of 6 men who went to the station hospital on the 24th of April, but hesitate to name them as they could have gone to the hospital for other reasons. (Sounding like a broken record again, I repeat my job did not bring me in close contact with most of the men during the training periods. Please help with more detailed knowledge, especially for the field training on Maui.)
The end of our training (for Saipan) and the embarkation for Saipan were part of the same event. It is best described by the footnotes on the May Muster Roll. Nineteen men embarked on the USS Callaway on May 5, followed by 214 men on May 7. The footnotes are indential in terms of dates and actions except for embarkation dates:
Footnote B: (Pertains to 19 Company C men on the advance party)
5, embarked aboard USS Callaway at Kahului, Maui, T.H.; 8, sailed therefrom and arrived at Pearl Harbor, Oahu, T.H.; 9-13, anchored thereat; 14, sailed from Pearl Harbor, Oahu, T.H.; and arrived at Maalaea Bay, Maui, T.H.; 15, anchored thereat; 16-17, participated in maneuvers in the vicinity of Wailea Beach, Maui, T.H.; 18, anchored at Maalaea Bay, Maui, T.H.; 19, sailed therefrom; 20, arrived at Honolulu, Oahu, T.H.; 21-28, anchored thereat; 29, sailed from Honolulu, Oahu, T.H.; 29-31, enroute.
Footnote A: (Pertains to 214 Company C men of the main body)
7, embarked aboard USS Callaway at Kahului, Maui, T.H.; 8, sailed therefrom and arrived at Pearl Harbor, Oahu, T.H.; 9-13, anchored thereat; 14, sailed from Pearl Harbor, Oahu, T.H.; and arrived at Maalaea Bay, Maui, T.H.; 15, anchored thereat; 16-17, participated in maneuvers in the vicinity of Wailea Beach, Maui, T.H.; 18, anchored at Maalaea Bay, Maui, T.H.; 19, sailed therefrom; 20, arrived at Honolulu, Oahu, T.H.; 21-29, anchored thereat; 29, sailed from Honolulu, Oahu, T.H.; 29-31, enroute.
(To Saipan) - 42 days aboard the Callaway. 3 men stayed on Maui!
During the five days anchored at Pearl harbor and the 8 days anchored at Honolulu, (two separate and distinct harbors) we had our share of liberty - on a daily basis. The reason for these "delays" enroute to Saipan was to allow all units involved in the Marianas operation to "gather" and coordinate plans for the long sea voyage.
Every one of the "C" Company men still alive have their own memories of various liberty events. Orvel Johnson describes some of his Honolulu memories in his "Life on the LaSalle" [Click here to read Orvel Johnson's memory of life on the LaSalle]. I remember one afternoon at Waikiki Beach and the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Once I went to a park (forgotten the name), played tennis and listened to an armed services band at an outdoor pavilion, where the red hot drummer was Jackie Cooper. The Band Leader was Claude Thornhill.
One day was spent in various buses finding Hickam Airfield. A lady friend from my high school days was engaged to a Marine pilot and had written me asking to look him up if I ever got there. After much searching, I learned his unit had left two days before, enroute to Marianas (where he was killed, supporting us. I didn't learn this part until after the war.)
Our official sailing on May 29 to Saipan ends the training period. Naturally, we did not know we were going to Saipan until at sea after May 29.