Philip Fagan’s Red Book

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.

3 thoughts on “Philip Fagan’s Red Book

  1. I knew an old guy back in 1979 that had a Iwo Jima book, I can’t remember if this is what he had, but I do know it was like a High School year book and it said on the cover “Iwo Jima”. It has been so long now I can’t remember his name, but I do know that he worked at a place where they had a lot of surplus army trucks, ducks, trailers, even big search lights, so I think he may have been in the motor pool. He got drunk a lot and I remember helping him up out of the floor where he would fall, so drunk he couldn’t get up and into his apartment without help. He talked a little about the war but never the war its self, I had a Filipina girlfriend, and he would always tell me how the asian women thought Americans were big. After I moved out of the apartment I lost track of him, and I know he seemed old back then when I was in my twenties so now I am 65 and would bet he has passed. I search my mind for his name, but I can’t remember, and it bothers me that I knew a true hero of Iwo Jima yet I have forgotten his name, but never will I forget the man.

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