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Wednesday, 19 February 2020

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Thought some of your steady readers would like to know more about those photos of the dead Japanese around and inside the tents of the P-51 Air force crews at Motoyama #1 airfield around the 20 March 1945 time period.At the “end ” of the battle, Gen Howland Smith, Commanding General of the Fleet Marine Force Pacific came ashore to congratulation the survivors.  Marines were pretty angry with “Howlin’ Mad” Smith because he refused to commit the floating reserves at a time when the combat efficiency of all the units in the 3rd, 4th and 5th Divisions had degraded to less than 45%.  Raw, untrained replacements were substituted into the front line Battalions, which increased the casualty rate.  The Marines were weary, worn out and mad.As Gen. Smith stood there with Gen Graves Erskine, Commanding General of the 3rd Marine Division, a shot rang out and a round just missed Gen. Smith.  A certain unnamed Captain confronted his Marines and questioned them, “What the hell kind of a marksman are you?”

As a consequence of this incident, the Marines had to surrender all their ammunition.  Therefore, when this surprise attack from Japanese holdouts from the caves and tunnels from Hill 362 and Hill 357 occurred, 2 days later, there were fought with bayonets, entrenching tools and anything at hand.  Because the Marines had been disarmed, the Japanese penetrated all the way to the Air Force tents by Motoyama #1 airfield.  Some of the airmen and some of the Marines and Corpsmen at the CP’s and hospital tents by Motoyama #1 still had ammunition and were able to repel the Japanese.

I thought your readers would like to know that the pictures of the dead Japanese in the Air Force tents were not a reflection of some stirring combat by the aviators, but the result of disarming the weary veterans of the tough and bloody campaign.

I was a Corpsman with the 3rd Marine Division.


Charlie Greene

Slide show here…

Semper Fidelis to Lawrence E. McCartney; Master Gunnery Sergeant of Marines (Retired): 1967 – 1997