In the Islands: A Life Story

In the Islands: A Life Story

by Edward P. Leahy


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781587360930
Publisher: Wheatmark, Inc.
Publication date: 02/28/2002
Edition description: 1ST
Pages: 214
Product dimensions: 5.94(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.56(d)

Read an Excerpt

D-Day at Iwo Jima

The first waves, composed of amtracs, crossed the Line of Departure and headed for the beach. The first amtrac crawled up on the beach at nine o’ clock, almost exactly on schedule. The barrage moved inland and there was relative quiet. We watched the amtracs edge their way slowly inland. We could see them clearly as there was no vegetation and the land tilted up.

The amtracs got in about a hundred yards before the Japanese came to life. Then shells started exploding among the advancing marines. We heard the rattle of small arms fire and the boom of grenades. The marines had come up against the first wall of defense, a line of pillboxes with their gun-ports opening to the side, rather than to the front, so as to be mutually supporting.

Flame-throwing amtracs went to work on the pillboxes, shooting out long pencils of fire at the gun-ports. The Japs were responding vigorously now, and the angry mutter of battle filled the air.

We circled for a couple of hours and then approached the Line of Departure. I was laden down with standard equipment and in addition Cialfi told me to carry three satchel charges of C-2 explosive. The satchel charges weighed about two pounds each. Each had a brown canvas cover and a strap. I hung the straps around my neck and the charges dangled awkwardly under my arms. I was festooned like a Christmas Tree.

About eleven o’clock we crossed the Line of Departure and headed for the beach. A shell splashed in the water beside us. The coxswain revved up the motor to full speed. The sea was choppy and spray fell into the boat. I took the waterproof cover off my rifle and we all crouched down low. Cialfi crossed himself as we came into the line of the surf. Our moment had come.

The landing craft hit the beach with a jarring lurch, and I sprawled forward onto my face in a tangle of equipment. Then several things happened at once. First we were bracketed by artillery shells, one falling close on the right and another close on the left. The ramp went down with a crash and the beach gaped before us. As I struggled to rise, a burst of machine-gun bullets swept into the boat and killed the coxswain who was standing behind me. We were all trying to get up but the boat was washing around in the surf, it was slippery, and I struggled up and fell down two more times. Some of the others started down the ramp towards the beach. Ryan tripped on the ramp and fell into the water, breaking his leg. He was not a good swimmer and would have drowned except that Walt Hammer went in after him and dragged him ashore. Hammer was awarded the Silver Star for this action. The medal was well deserved.

In the meantime I finally got to my feet and crouching low, I ran down the ramp and onto the beach. I ran in a few yards from the water’s edge and hit the deck. I looked around. I had two immediate impressions. First, I noticed that everyone seemed to have disappeared. There was no one in sight. Second, I noticed the extraordinary consistency of the sand, which was a light, loose material composed of coarse grains of pumice. It was like being in a bin full of black wheat.

A lot of stuff was flying around. Small arms fire was zipping overhead. After a few seconds I got up and ran inland another fifty feet or so to a big shell-hole in which Mandich and about a dozen fellows from my outfit were crouched. I jumped in with them.

A couple of shells crashed in near us.

“Spread out,” yelled Mandich. “There are too many of us in here. Spread out.”

Table of Contents

1. Early Days
2. From the Halls of Montezuma
3. Company “D”
4. Westward to the Marshalls
5. Saipan
6. Tinian
7. Iwo Jima
8. Love on the North Shore
9. The Good Ship Aggersborg
10. Fast Company
11. Into the Lost World
12. On the Juneau Icefield
13. PSTD = Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

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