Saipan. D+23. July 8, 1944.

Surely it had to be almost over, thought the Marines of 1/24 as they checked their weapons, choked down their instant coffee and K-ration breakfast, lit up the first cigarette of the day, and climbed out of the twenty-fourth line of foxholes they’d dug since landing on Saipan. Surely, there couldn’t be that many Japanese left on the godforsaken island. Surely, their high command would realize how battered and spent their regiment was. Surely, they would soon be relieved and sent to the rear. The less charitable muttered that the Army should be left to do the mopping up and thus even out their share of the fighting. But instead, here they were, ordered to change directions to the west and assist with cutting off the remnants of the enemy still holed up along the coast near Tanapag. The left flank of the landing force, blunted by the banzai attack the day before, was advancing slowly. Lt. Col. Lessing’s Marines would block the Japanese retreat; the anvil to the Second Marine Division’s hammer.

The morning passed with little activity save for dozens of civilians who poured out of their hiding places to welcome the Marines. This was a sure sign that the Japanese had gone. “Many civilians joyfully emerged from their hideouts as we scrambled down a cave-infested cliff line to the lowest level,” wrote Lieutenant Stott. “Among those whom we released were two priests, several nuns, and many of their Chamorro followers. The Chamorros, though contact with travelers from Guam had been told that the Americans would treat them well. And in addition they had been assured by their priests that the arrival of the Marines would mean their liberation. Their joy gave us some indication of the welcome our brothers-in-arms were receiving at the same time from the people of Normandy.”[1]

This is an American-produced leaflet meant to induce Japanese troops to surrender. It is written as if a recently captured solider was speaking to his comrades about the good conditions with the Americans.
Copies of this leaflet urging honorable surrender were dropped by the thousands on Saipan. Written in the voice of a captured Japanese soldier, it promises safe treatment to any bearing the paper. Bernard Elissagaray saved this one, either from a prisoner or because he didn’t realize it was an American document. Collection of the author.

However, this same cliff also revealed the first signs of trouble. Lieutenant Joseph Swoyer, commander of Baker Company’s machine gun platoon, led a small group down a twisting path, and directly into the sights of a Japanese soldier, who shot point-blank at the Marines. The man beside Swoyer dropped with a bullet to the head, and Swoyer beat feet back to the rest of his men, who were already calling for a corpsman. “Never mind, it’s too late,” said the rattled officer. “He caught it right through the head and he’s gone.”

The men weren’t convinced. “There’s motion out there,” one piped up. Swoyer shook his head. “It’s no use. I checked him, and he’s dead.”

“Not yet,” came a voice from behind. It was “the supposed dead man as he emerged from the woods, his head bloody but under his own power.”[2] An embarrassed Swoyer helped the wounded man to the aid station.[3]

Charlie Company was also investigating caves. Each presented a unique problem: there was no good way to tell if any given cave housed civilians, soldiers, some mixture of both or none at all. It was not a job for the fainthearted, and often those who entered such caves were volunteers. One such volunteer was PFC Wesley R. Clinton, a twenty-year-old rifleman from Cypress Ridge, Arkansas. Nicknamed “Sergeant York” for his prowess, Clinton was also known for his “likable personality” and “always [doing] a fine and thorough job” in his duties. Now, PFC Clinton watched his squad leader disappear in the third cave of the day. Gunshots and yelling immediately followed, and the squad leader tumbled back out. The Japanese soldier he’d surprised scuttled deeper into the cave, towards a second exit. Clinton was ordered to creep back down the trail, in hopes of catching the fleeing enemy. Unfortunately, it was the Imperial soldier who got the drop on the Marines. With two quick shots, he wounded the squad leader in the arm and fatally shot Wesley Clinton.[4]

At the bottom of the cliff were yet more burned and blackened cane fields, similar to the ones 1/24 suffered through in the early days of the campaign. The battalion, now with a substantial number of prisoners in tow, paused on the level ground to organize the passage of their charges to the rear. The activity attracted the attention of two photographers, who strode over with cameras and notebooks at the ready.

One was Stan Troutman, a former photographer for the Los Angeles Times. Troutman was happily covering Hollywood scandals and sports assignments when his boss at ACME News Pictures decided the company needed a war correspondent. Armed with vague directions, an officer’s uniform and a reporter’s curiosity Troutman made his way to Pearl Harbor, where he traded his borrowed uniform for a set of fatigues before packing off to Saipan.[5] He landed on the island with no weapon, no combat training, and no idea what to expect. Troutman later recalled two major difficulties in his transition from civilian to combat – getting accustomed to death, and eating “C-rations which tasted like dog food.”[6] Although Stan Troutman would later become an eminent combat photographer on later battlefields, on Saipan he was quite content to follow the lead of his companion, the legendary W. Eugene Smith.

Smith had had a busy day. While following the 2nd Marines during the morning advance, “this extremely heavy fire tore the dirt from our shoe laces and cracked and whined over our heads and into some of the Marines’ bodies. Then for over two hours we flattened against the dirt…. We did not dare even to change into a more comfortable position. Three tried and three were wounded within inches to feet of me.”[7]

Smith snapped this gut-wrenching picture on July 8, 1944.
Smith captured this gut-wrenching image of a wounded Marine on July 8, 1944.

Photo source

Smith shot up an entire roll of film from this position before tanks arrived to take the pressure off. Relieved to be mobile again – enemy fire was less frustrating than having to shoot the same subjects all day – Smith began busily snapping pictures of the next unit in line, a Fourth Division regiment that turned out to be the 24th Marines.[8]

Armed Japanese discovered the gathering as well. “Jap snipers with rifles and machine guns fired on the group,” wrote Smith, “regardless of the fact that we had Japs with us, or maybe it was for that reason.”[9] The prisoners were hustled away to the rear and 1/24 continued their move towards the coast, the mood suddenly more ominous.

Although we had been practically unopposed in our advance ever since the big attack, it became evident that many of the Jap defenders had not perished in it, but had retired to coastal fortifications. These beaches extending several miles northward from Tanapag were likely locations for a landing effort, and they were honeycombed with an intricate series of trenches, dugouts, and low-lying pillboxes. [Stott is referring to the “Orange” beaches, considered for invasion but not used – ed.] An observation plane swooped low and dropped a message telling of many enemy soldiers scurrying north along the beach, and just in defilade from us. But we were too close to call for any support from the air or ground. [9.5]

One hundred yards from the beach, all hell broke loose.

Lieutenant Alexander “Saint” Santilli, a Fordham football star turned Marine officer, was instructed to lead his platoon of machine gunners over towards the left of the battalion skirmish line. “The Japs had that fortified; it was about 20-30 feet of tree growth right down to the water’s edge,” recalled gunner Glenn Buzzard. “We were out in the open in a cane field, and about twenty people came out of those trees. They were women and children and the men were holding up babies, just little babies. That was a distraction, and the interpreter was trying to talk to them…. ‘Take it off,’ that’s one of the Japanese phrases they taught us. You had to get them undressed because the men would have grenades stuck under their clothes, and as soon as they got a chance they would throw it at you.”[10]

This card with helpful phonetic phrases was issued to PFC Bernard Elissagaray for use in the battle of Saipan. Language proficiency was not high on the priority list for front-line Marines, but cards like these saved many lives.
This card with helpful phonetic phrases was issued to PFC Bernard Elissagaray for use in the battle of Saipan. Language proficiency was not high on the priority list for front-line Marines, but cards like these saved many lives.

Big Al Santilli stepped forward to motion the civilians in to safety. Beside him, rifle at the ready, was his best friend and second-in-command, Sergeant William W. Buller. As the civilians hurried across the field, gunshots rang out from beneath the piles of cane laid out for harvest.

All at once, one of the piles just opened up and there were men underneath it. They killed Santilli, and they killed Sgt. Buller. They were shot within seconds of each other.

I don’t know who else was hit, but I knew those two personally. Sgt. W. W. Buller, I called him my big brother; not a whole lot older, but then everyone was older than me….[11] He’d sort of look after me, I’d say. ‘This is my brother while I was in the Marine Corps’ is how I felt about him. He and Santilli were real good friends.

I had my machine gun and we carried it in a sling position for immediate fire; it was a Mickey Mouse thing but it worked. So I just took into that crowd of people and neutralized them, let’s say.[12]

Al Santilli and William Buller; killed in action and avenged by Glenn Buzzard.

For a brief time, the action swirled around a small farm and outbuildings. “We immediately began to draw fire,” wrote PFC John Pope.[13]

 It was obvious a group of Japanese soldiers had decided to make a stand and they had several riflemen and at least one machine gun. They had an open field of fire and held us back for a while. A guy named Bowman and I had taken cover behind a stack of logs and other wood. After a while the firing died down and I sat down on the ground and leaned back against a log and lit a cigarette. Bowman put his helmet on the end of his rifle, playing cowboy, and he was poking it above the logs to see if they would take a shot at it. A few minutes later we got word to get ready to rush the little house, Bowman stood straight up and a bullet hit him in the chest. He collapsed and fell across me. I instinctively reached around him and put my hand over a hole in his chest. The blood was surprisingly warm and sticky. It was my first time to have a handful of blood. [14]

Corporal Joseph Jecture Jr., one of Santilli’s squad leaders, led his team through the undergrowth nearly to the water’s edge. After giving a suspicious looking bush a few blasts of gunfire and moving on, Jecture changed his mind and doubled back. “He heard an unearthly yell, and then sighted a Japanese soldier who had pulled the pin from a grenade and, hugging the bomb to his chest, blew himself to eternity.”[15] Pieces of the missile struck Jecture above the eye and on the cheek; he took off for the aid station, but was careful to hold on to his souvenir samurai sword.[16]

Japanese grenades, though less powerful than their American counterparts, could still do serious damage. A scouting party from Captain Webster’s battalion intelligence section encountered a suicidal group of Japanese armed with grenades. The fracas wounded Sergeant John Dearing, Corporal James Hicks, and PFCs John Gale and Ray H. Davis; Gale lost his right arm to a blast, and Dearing lost both an arm and a leg. Surgeon William Baker’s aid station was filling up fast; corpsmen Vermoine Klauss and Walter Leonard were down, and Doc Baker himself took a bullet to the leg as he treated patients right behind the front lines. Baker bandaged his leg and brushed away suggestions that he retire to the rear. He had work to do.

The fight raged fiercely up and down the line. The Japanese, their backs to the sea, had nowhere to go and nothing to lose. As Company A’s machine guns got into action, platoon leader 1Lt. Joseph Stevens, went down with a wound that would end his combat career, and ammo carrier PFC Keith Thomas was shot through the right hand. A massive explosion took the life of PFC Jack Comer; “nothing was left of him except a scalp with some black hair still on it,” recalled gunner Wally Duncan.[17] Popular PFC DeWitt “Dee” Dietrich, Jr. was found dead in the field with a bullet hole in his back. The heavy fire continued until PFC Lester Kincaid volunteered to call in a mortar strike from the company’s 60mms, “which resulted in the rout of the enemy and the attainment of the objective.”[18] Kincaid was wounded, but lived to wear his Silver Star back home to “West By God Virginia.”

The going was equally tough in Baker Company’s sector. One squad got too far ahead of its support and became the focal point of Japanese fire; as casualties mounted, Corporal Robert Newbury of Fall River, Massachusetts, could take no more. All alone, he ran forward to help a wounded Marine. “We called him ‘Huc,'” remembered John Pope. “He paused to see about a wounded friend. He dropped to his knees, leaned over, and in a matter of seconds he was dead from a sniper bullet. He was lying across his friend’s body when he died.”[19] Newbury received a posthumous Silver Star for his “heroic attempt” to rescue the wounded. All told, Baker Company would lose four Marines dead and eight wounded—one of whom, Private Marwood Smith, would die of his wounds at a base hospital in August.

Photographers Smith and Troutman kept snapping away and scribbling notes when they could; the notes would become captions or narratives of their own once the pictures were developed. “Around a farmhouse of resistance, sniper bullets hitting from all directions, we held up for a while,” Smith wrote in his narrative after the battle.

Behind one of the walls in a hole a searching Marine received an exploding grenade in his face that infuriated his buddies so much that they blasted the whole [sic] with grenades, Tommy guns, rifles and finally brought a tank around to blast with it’s [sic] 75. At this point the Marines, who had suffered heavily, found their temper close to the breaking point, but within twenty feet of this scene I saw a Marine giving candy to several women and children prisoners, [they were] 4th Division Marines.[20]

W. Eugene Smith snapped this series of photographs as the flurry of fighting died down on July 8. This is likely in the vicinity farmhouse that PFC John Pope describes above, in the Company C area of operations. The outline of a tank’s turret may barely be seen in Image #9, and a dead Marine is watched over by a grieving friend in 10-12.
All images:
W. Eugene Smith, Saipan, 1944, digital image made from a 2 ¼ x 2 ¼ negative
W. Eugene Smith Archive
Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson

 

Finally, the firing died down a bit. Smith snapped a few more “shots of firing into a well or hole in the ground with a ladder sticking out” near “ruins of a Jap farmhouse.” He saw another Marine standing close by the body of a dead friend, looking down into the hole at what was left of the Japanese ambushers, as a column from Company B passed by.

Smith and Troutman looked up and caught sight of a swarthy, handsome Marine taking a long drag from his canteen. Stripped down for combat the way only a veteran could, the Marine still carried a carbine, a .45 caliber pistol, and a long Japanese sword tucked under his arm. His face was striking; sweaty, grimy, unnaturally thin and with piercing blue eyes.

troutman_underwood_cutline
Stan Troutman’s shot, taken July 8 and submitted for publication July 21. The text below is the original cutline for the picture. Photograph courtesy of The MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History.

Troutman and Smith were professional photographers; they knew a good shot when they saw one, and both whipped out their cameras. Troutman caught the Marine in a three-quarters shot, while Smith snapped one directly in profile. The Marine, probably perplexed at the sudden attention, stopped and glared over his shoulder at the photographers. Troutman scribbled Marine drinking water from his canteen in his notepad, and either he or Smith approached the exhausted warrior to ask his name and hometown.[21]

“4th Division Marine PFC T. E. Underwood (24th Bat.) of St. Petersburg Florida,” recorded Smith. “A Portrait of a weary warrior who has been through one of the toughest days of his life. And still at the moment the picture was taken was under fire.”[22]

These two iconic photos would come to exemplify the strain of combat and the determination of American fighting men. In his notes, Smith indicates a third shot of this man, Negative #6, which unfortunately has not survived.
All images:
W. Eugene Smith, Saipan, 1944, digital image made from a 2 ¼ x 2 ¼ negative
W. Eugene Smith Archive
Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson

Finally, the Marines broke through. First one squad, then another reached the beach, the final objective for which they had fought for more than three weeks. First Battalion stepped over the prostrate bodies of their fallen enemies, even as occasional gunshots or suicide grenade blasts reverberated through the undergrowth. The final hundred-yard push had been one of the hardest of the entire campaign. “The tenacity with which they defended these last positions gave a clear indication of why the western coastal advance had temporarily bogged down,” reflected Lieutenant Stott. “Ours was a comparatively small area, and with the aid of rapid firing tanks the remainder of the battalion sector was cleared out. But it was very depressing to have suffered so heavily at a time when we thought the organized opposition practically ended.”[23]

W. Eugene Smith still had a handful of shots left in his film pack. Seeing one Marine gazing out to sea, he snapped a beautiful silhouette shot. “And the Marines did crash through to the beach as the sun dropped into the ocean on the western side of the island,” he wrote. “And hundreds of dead Japs were given a farewell spotlight by the last rays of the sun.”[24]

WESmith_BAR_12
Another of Smith’s well-known shots of Saipan. This image is usually developed to emphasize the dramatic silhouette, but with less contrast one can see the semi-circle UNIS mark on this Marine’s shovel cover, indicating the Fourth Marine Division. Under magnification, the numbers within read “412” – Company A, 1/24th Marines.   © 1944, 2014 The Heirs of W. Eugene Smith. Published by permission

The Word spread down through the ranks like wildfire. Someone had it on good authority from one of the Navajo code talkers that the island was secure. The exhausted Marines mustered as much enthusiasm as they could for the news; after all, rumors were rife. Early in the battle, most Marines firmly believed that Russia had declared war on Japan; later, some told tales that Amelia Earhart’s belongings had been found in a jail in Garapan.[25] Yet this one seemed true. The battalion had reached almost the very northern end of the island; this last attack must have been the final pocket. The battle must be over.

Grim shots of dead Japanese soldiers in the treeline near the beach.
All images:
W. Eugene Smith, Saipan, 1944, digital image made from a 2 ¼ x 2 ¼ negative
W. Eugene Smith Archive
Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson

PFC Bob Tierney had just begun to process this information when he was shot.

A sniper’s bullet tore into his back, passed through his ribs, and shattered his left arm. The company’s reaction was swift and terrible for the lone Japanese gunman, swift and fortunate for the badly wounded boy from Birnamwood.

I was evacuated to the hospital ship USS Samaritan. We were told that we were heading to New Caledonia to fleet hospital #105 because all of the hospitals in Hawaii and the west coast of the US were filled. When I was taken aboard ship, two nurses looked at me and asked if it would be OK to take my picture. When we landed we shaved all the hair off our heads. After 26 days my black hair grew back, but I had a red beard, I was still wearing the same dungarees I landed in and they were filthy and tattered—I must have been a sight. 

My left arm was taped to a board. During my 25 days on the island I lost over 30 pounds. There were about 1200 wounded Marines on board the ship. The next morning [July 9] I heard the bugler playing taps. A nurse informed me that 10 Marines had died overnight and the ceremony on deck was for burials at sea. My surgery was scheduled for 0200 the following morning. Up to that time the doctors had been operating for 72 hours with just short breaks.[26]

Bob Tierney was on the long trip home – and it began with a coincidence; the doctor operating on his arm was a family friend from back in Wisconsin. At New Caledonia, he received his Purple Heart medal from Bob Hope himself; luckily a camera was on hand to capture “a whole roll of film of [actress Carol Landis] and various friends.” The Japanese bullet cost Tierney nearly four inches of bone from his left arm; a botched operation and administratiev red tape would harry him for years. He did not return to “the mainstream” until August 1950—seven years and five months after enlisting.[27]

Photos uploaded to Foster Family Tree on ancestry.com.

The survivors of 1/24 “toiled back up to the ridge line and camp we had vacated on the previous morning,” recalled Stott. Motivated by the promise of being placed in reserve, the Marines were furious when “our relief status terminated abruptly after two hours, when we picked up and moved down to the east end of Marpi Airfield to reinforce the front for the night.”[28]

First Battalion would have to endure one final drama in the fight for Saipan. For those present, the events they witnessed on July 9, 1944 would dominate their stories and haunt their memories for the remainder of their lives.

The Fallen

a_jcomer a_dietrich b_newbury xz_nopic b_rogers
Private First Class
Jack C. Comer
Age 23
MG Ammo Carrier, A Co.
Artillery shell
Private First Class
DeWitt L. Dietrich, Jr.
Age 19
BARman, A Co.
Gunshot, back
Corporal
Robert E. Newbury
Age 23
Squad leader, B Co.
Gunshot
Private First Class
J. S. Moore
Age 18
BARman, B Co.
Cause unknown
Private First Class
James G. Rogers
Age 19
Fire Team Leader, B Co.
Cause unknown
b_queen c_santilli c_buller c_burton xz_nopic
Private
Charles E. Queen
Age 21
Ammo Carrier, B Co.
Cause unknown
First Lieutenant
Alexander Santilli

Age 24
MG Platoon, C Co.
Gunshot
Sergeant
William W. Buller
Age 23
MG Section Sergeant, C Co.
Gunshot
Private First Class
Charles F. Burton

Age 22
Messenger, C Co.
Cause unknown
Private First Class
Wesley R. Clinton

Age 20
Rifleman, C Co.
Gunshot
    c_holden thumb    
Private
John W. Holden

Age 17
Rifleman, C Co.
Cause unknown

WOUNDED

COMPANY Name Assignment Cause

Destination

Headquarters

Lt. (j. g.) William J. Baker
PhM2c Vermoine Klauss

HA1c Walter Leonard
Sgt. John H. Dearing
Cpl. James R. Hicks
Cpl. Edwin E. Klohs
Cpl. Jerald J. Priest
PFC Ray H. Davis, Jr.
PFC John C. Gale, Jr.
PFC Robert E. Sherrill
Pvt. Michael Luckage
Surgeon
Corpsman
Corpsman
Intelligence NCO
Intelligence NCO
Operations NCO
Telephone Operator
Intelligence Man
Intelligence Man
Messenger
Rifleman
Gunshot, leg
Unknown
Unknown
Amputation, arm & leg
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Amputation, right arm
Unknown
Shrapnel
Not Evacuated
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown

Able

1Lt. Joseph Stevens
PlSgt. Parker S. McBride
Sgt. William W. Comer
Sgt. Jack T. Sayers
Cpl. Kenneth R. Gray
Cpl. Lester C. Kincaid

Cpl. William J. Quinn
PFC James C. Fields
PFC James W. Freeman
PFC Robert N. Harris
PFC Tom L. Johnson
PFC Junior E. Jones
PFC William Loutzenhiser
PFC Tommy Lynchard
PFC Glen Marshall
PFC Keith W. Thomas
PFC Robert E. Tierney
PFC Philip Valley, Jr.
MG Platoon Leader
2nd Platoon Sgt.
Squad Leader
Squad Leader
Demo Squad Leader
Small-arms Mechanic
Squad Leader
Rifleman
BAR Gunner
BAR Gunner
Rifleman
Rifleman
Messenger
BAR Gunner
BAR Gunner
Ammo Carrier
Rifleman
Rifleman
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Gunshot, thigh
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Gunshot, right hand
Gunshot, left arm
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
USS Samaritan
Unknown

Baker

Sgt. Albert J. Estergall
PFC Pedro Gaminde, Jr.
PFC Jack D. Pentland
PFC Robert F. Seitz
PFC William E. Sempert
PFC LaVerne E. Sullivan
PFC Carl Weber
Pvt. Marwood B. Smith
Guide, 2nd Platoon
Rifleman
BAR Gunner
BAR Gunner
Machine Gunner
Ammo Carrier
Rifleman
Rifleman
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Gunshot, chest
Unknown (fatal)
Not Evacuated
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown

Charlie

Sgt. Charles P. Czerweic
Sgt. Stephen Sheptock
Cpl. Philip E. Fagan
Cpl. Joseph G. Jecture, Jr.
Cpl. Stanley Sander
PFC Harold A. Bowman
PFC Dawson J. Brewer
PFC Emil G. Jiracek, Jr.
PFC Hayword L. Jordan
PFC Jesse C. Wallace
Pvt. Charlie L. Stringer
Section Leader
Guide
Messenger
MG Squad Leader
Squad Leader
MG Ammo Carrier
MG Ammo Carrier
Mortar Gunner
BAR Gunner
BAR Gunner
Rifleman
Unknown
Gunshot, left chest
Unknown
Shrapnel wound, face
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Not Evacuated
Unknown
Not Evacuated
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown

NON-COMBAT EVACUATION

COMPANY Name Assignment Cause

Destination

Headquarters

Cpl. Edward Neiderlander Clerk Sick Unknown

Baker

Pvt. John A. Gilboy Rifleman Sick Unknown

Charlie

Cpl. Frank W. Ciecierski
Cpl. Norman L. Conway
Cpl. Paul C. Fitzgerald
PFC Michael S. Cusimano
PFC Vincent F. Gonsowski
PFC Robert W. Reeves
Squad Leader
BAR Gunner
Squad Leader
Rifleman
Fire Team Leader
Rifleman
Sick
Sick
Sick
Sick
Sick
Sick
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown

JOINED / ATTACHED / TRANSFERRED

Action

Name From To

Duty

Returned PFC John J. Reilly Hospital HQ 81mm Ammo Carrier
Returned PFC Ronald P. Bartels Hospital A Mortar Gunner
Returned PFC Gust A. Pappas Hospital A BAR Gunner
Returned PFC Robert Pounders, Jr Hospital B BAR Gunner
Returned PlSgt. Elmo A. Burns Hospital C Platoon Sgt., 1st Platoon

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FOOTNOTES

[1] Frederic A. Stott, “Saipan Under Fire” (Andover: Frederic Stott, 1945), 14.
[2] Ibid.
[3] This incident does not seem to have affected popular opinions of Swoyer, who received two Bronze Stars and ended the war as a captain commanding Company B.
[4] Dora McCoy, “Wesley R. Clinton,” FindAGrave.com biography, 2011. Clinton’s squad leader is unknown.
[5] Stan Troutman, interview with the author, 2014. Troutman was assigned first to the Navy, where correspondents carried rank equivalent to a Lieutenant Commander. He followed the Marines into action on Saipan, Tinian, Guam, and Peleliu.
[6] Troutman interview.
[7] Smith.
[8] 1/24 was to the right of the 2nd Marines on July 8; Smith’s subsequent notes indicates that he and Troutman wandered over the division boundary and into the ranks of 1/24.
[9] W. Eugene Smith, “Captions: Saipan – Final Days of Invasion,” roll 9-10, 1944. Reproduced by W. Eugene Smith Archive, Center for Creative Photography University of Arizona, Tucson, 2014.
[10] Glenn Buzzard in Gail Chatfield, By Dammit, We’re Marines! (San Diego: Methvin Publishing, 2008), 63.
[11] Buzzard lied about his age to enlist in the Marine Corps at sixteen.
[12] Buzzard, By Dammit!, 63.
[13] Pope was evidently assigned to Charlie Company on July 8, as he mentions a C Company gunner named Bowman. Pope’s MG crew may have been something of a battalion reserve to be attached as needed.
[14] John C. Pope, Angel On My Shoulder, Kindle edition (John Pope, 2013-11-30), locations 1133-1139. PFC Harold Bowman, age 19, was quickly evacuated by a corpsman who said the bullet had just missed his heart. Evidently the wound was not as serious as Pope believed, as Bowman returned to duty on July 11.
[15] “Marine Corporal Brings Back to Naugatuck Tale of Battles With The Japs.” Naugatuck Daily News, December 29, 1944, page 1.
[16] Ibid, page 8. Jecture picked up the sword during a banzai attack (possibly July 6); his hometown newspaper rather breathlessly described the souvenir as “a beautiful Japanese officer’s sword that on the west coast has a standardized value of $300. The sword has a two handed grip and is razor sharp.”
[17] Wallace Duncan, interview with the author, 2009. Duncan believed that an artillery shell hit Comer. The dead man was listed as “remains not recovered” for some time before identification could be made by Graves Registration.
[18] Lester C. Kincaid, Silver Star citation.
[19] Pope.
[20] Smith, “Captions – Saipan.”
[21] Troutman interview. “Eugene and I would have personally talked to the Marine to get his name, rank, and hometown,” clarified Troutman. Photographers went to great lengths to ensure accuracy in identifying individuals whenever possible—it made for good copy for the newspapers, and was a mark of their journalistic integrity. In civilian life, a botched caption could cost a photographer his job.
[22] Smith, “Captions – Saipan.”
[23] Stott, 14.
[24] Smith, “Captions – Saipan.”
[25] For the Russia rumor, see Stott page 4. The Earhart story has captivated audiences since the battle, and may have a grain of truth behind it. Bob Williams recalled hearing the rumors himself: “Scuttlebutt, rumors get to flying. I don’t know where it started, but there was a little town called Garapan north of where we landed. Rumors came through that a white woman was found in Garapan. The next thing you know, the rumor says ‘Amelia Earhart.’ You’ve heard all kinds of rumors about her. Something must have started it, they must have found someone. It’s just one of those weird things.”
[26] Robert E. Tierney, “My Marine Corps Experience.”
[27] Tierney.
[28] Stott, 14.

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