My “dubious mentors” (as my mother referred to them) who were USMC vets of the PTO told me that by the time they got to Okinawa, the guys with experience were sometimes packing four canteens inland. They also told me that when fellow Marines were killed on the first or second day, their buddies would often take the dead man’s canteen before they took his ammo or weapon. This, they taught me when teaching me “what do you need to grab to survive?” and “if a gun is first on your list of stuff to grab, you’re going to have problems pretty soon without anyone giving you problems.”
These two Marines told me that the lack of good water on previous islands had taught them that clean drinking water was “worth the sweat” to carry lots of it. As one of them said “It is pretty difficult to fight the enemy when you have the shits from drinking bad water… or you’re about to pass out from no water…”
One of the guys had been at Tarawa, and this was where he said he got his lesson of the importance of water. He said that many guys he was with in the second landing group drank most of their water while they were waiting the first night off-shore, in landing boats. The next several days were hell for lots of those guys.
BTW, his bottom-line opinion of the taking of Tarawa was short and simple: “a complete f’g waste – of time, men, ammo… what a waste.”
My Mother’s Fiancee was a 2nd Lieutenant in the USMC, he never made it to the beach at Tarawa.
He was 24 years old.
She finally agreed to marry my Father after getting a needle stick with live TB in 1948, figuring she wouldn’t live long and knowing that life with Dad wouldn’t be boring.
The Marriage lasted 45 years…and she lived another 56 years.
thats a real bitter sweet story
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