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The Marines on Guadalcanal

IRA GILLIAND, 1st 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

Ira Gilliand recalls his night on the ridge.

It's tough to talk about this stuff. It's been fifty-eight years. It gives me the chills thinking about it.

The Japanese were trying to outflank us and looked like they were going to overrun our position. I remember their screams. They screamed a lot, especially when they were charging. It made you alert in a hurry even after being up for two days and you're ready to fall asleep.

They kept charging, but that's where the grenades came in. We threw grenades all night long. I remember rolling the grenades down. We were up on the hill and they were below us. They kept feeding us boxes of grenades. I remember the sound of Plante's BAR. He kept it going all night long. A lot of guys spent a terrible night out there.

The 1st Parachute Battalion was with us. I remember one of the paratroopers got shot. The corpsman came over because of his cry for help, and he [the corpsman] got shot right through the heart. His name was Smith, so when I saw Smith go down, I grabbed him and carried him down the hill. I didn't think he was going to die. When I got him down to the first aid station, I saw one of our doctors cry. [chokes up] Old Smitty was my friend, a real nice guy, and I broke down also.

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

Click to Amazon to buy "Into The Rising Sun: In Their Own Words, World War II's Pacific Veterans Reveal the Heart of Combat."

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