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The Marines on Guadalcanal

DEAN WINTERS, 2nd Raider Battalion

Converted for the Web from "Into The Rising Sun: In Their Own Words, World War II's Pacific Veterans Reveal the Heart of Combat" by Patrick K. O'Donnell

Shortly after the departure of the 1st Raider Battalion, the 2nd Raider Battalion disembarked at Aola Bay. Its task was pursuing three thousand hungry and exhausted Japanese soldiers retreating from the eastern side of the island to rejoin elements of the Japanese 17th Army on the western side of the Matanikau. The Raiders spent a month pursuing the Japanese on what was called the Long Patrol.

It seemed like it was raining all the time. We also had to cross many rivers. We had to climb a steep ridgeline dividing the Lunga and Tenaru valleys using ropes that we each carried and then linked together. We found an artillery piece that had been shelling Henderson Field. It was nicknamed "Pistol Pete." Several men took it apart and threw it over a cliff.

We came upon a Japanese field hospital and bivouac area. We killed a lot of Japs. We bayoneted and shot anything that was still moving. It was a series of grass huts. They were on the ground wounded. Several had broken legs. It didn't look like they had proper medical attention, because some were bent on a 45-degree angle. They weren't sticking straight out. We were back in Japanese territory and didn't want to make noise, so we used bayonets. I was pretty angry. We had a patrol, and they captured one of our men and tied him over a log and used him as a woman. They rammed a bayonet up his butt and he bled to death. That made me angry! So whenever I'd get into action, I'd get angry. I wasn't afraid when I was angry. We all felt that way after what we had seen.

After we left the area, we went up around Mount Austen. They ambushed us on the top. We had one man wounded. We carried him out; it was a long way down the mountain. We had jungle rot on our crotch and down our legs so bad that we had to stop every once in a while to empty the blood out of our shoes. It was painful. When you're in the field like that, you go, and you can't worry about pain.

The Raiders were a very special group. They're all volunteers. They were very select. We were interviewed by Evans Carlson or Jimmy Roosevelt. Roosevelt interviewed me and asked me if I was afraid to die. I said, "Anybody not afraid to die is a fool. But I would if it came to that. I wouldn't hesitate." He passed me.

Copyright © 2002 by Patrick O'Donnell. All rights reserved. Converted for the Web with the permission of Simon & Schuster.

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