Philip Fagan was an archetypal old-salt Marine. When the United States entered World War II, he had spent eleven of his thirty years of age wearing the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor in exotic locations like Nicaragua, Shanghai, Canton, Panama, and the Fleet. Fagan was a perpetual private, gaining rank only to lose it again in a seemingly endless string of disciplinary infractions, but his badly-needed experience – brig rat or not – meant an almost immediate promotion to sergeant after the attack on Pearl Harbor. By the time of his retirement in 1952, Fagan had reached the rank of Master Sergeant.
Among his mementos from his time in the corps was this yearbook for the 24th Marines. Printed in 1943 and issued after the war, the “Red Book” was intended as a memento, but were regarded as something much more by those who survived to receive them. They were, in many instances, the last photos taken of the Marines who would fall in the Pacific. Today, their pictures – as awkward and self-conscious as they are – are the only surviving photographs of many of these men.
Fagan’s identity is confirmed by his note in the front – Page 61, Row 2, #5. He began his service with the 24th as a sergeant in Company D, was briefly assigned to headquarters, and then went to Company C as a messenger. By the battle of Iwo Jima, he was a platoon sergeant; Fagan added newspaper clippings about the fighting on Iwo Jima, as he was wounded quite seriously during its critical phase.
Philip Fagan died in 1987. His Red Book was acquired in 2010.