Melvin S. Adalman

Photo from the 1942 Terra Mariae yearbook
Photo from the 1942 Terra Mariae yearbook
Melvin Solomon Adalman
Baltimore, MD
Mother, Mrs. Jeane Adalman
1944 – 3/3/1945
Iwo Jima B/1/24 521 Private KIA
Purple Heart

Melvin Adalman was born in the year 1923. Little information is available about his early life; he was a Baltimore native, but spent time living in Cape May, New Jersey, where his grandfather Daniel was known as Rabbi Sussman.

As a teenager, Adalman aspired to a medical career. He enrolled in the University of Maryland’s school of pharmacy, pledged Phi Alpha, and was elected Keeper of the Secret Scrolls for his fraternity.

The quotes in Adalman’s college yearbooks speak to his civilian character. “Judge not a man by the tone of his voice” accompanied his picture in 1942; in 1943, he was “A straight shooter who says what he means despite the consequences.” However, in 1944, his tone changed. The last quote, penned by James Russell Lowell, read:

There is no good in arguing with the inevitable.
The only argument available with an east wind is to put on your overcoat.

It is easy to imagine that Adalman’s farewell to collegiate life was inspired by a notice from his draft board. He joined the Marines immediately after the school year ended, trained at Parris Island and Camp Lejeune, and was assigned to the 30th Replacement Draft in October 1944.


Melvin Adalman’s enlistment photo. Courtesy of Dr. Dennis Worthen.

Most of the young private’s time in the Corps was spent with this replacement draft – a unit which, by its very nature, was destined to be broken up and parceled out to regiments as needed. Between the date he joined and the date he was reassigned, Adalman may have made a few friends, but it is unlikely that he had many to accompany him to his next assignment – a rifle platoon of Baker Company, 24th Marines.

Private Adalman joined Baker Company on February 27, 1945; they had been pulled off Iwo Jima’s front line after five days of combat and were badly mauled. The former pharmacy student was assigned to an unknown rifle squad; he could handle the M1 rifle, but like many late-war draftees, was rushed through boot camp without qualifying for even the lowest marksman’s badge. Adalman had four days to adjust to his new surroundings, new comrades, and the idea that he would soon face the enemy before the orders sending the battalion back to the front line came down from above.

For the first and second days of March, 1945, Private Adalman and Baker Company waited anxiously in regimental reserve; one man was killed and a few more wounded, but the casualties streaming back from Able and Charlie companies were far more numerous. On March 3, Charlie Company could take no more, and at 0930 Company B was ordered forward to pass through their lines and continue the advance.

“The relief was effected in an area where an enemy was well entrenched and concealed,” noted the battalion’s report. “The zone of action was infested with spider traps and concealed machine guns.” Iwo’s defensive terrain was by far the most complex and dangerous the Marines had yet encountered, and for raw replacements it was a merciless proving ground.

Melvin Adalman was killed in action during this advance. He was buried on Iwo Jima; in 1948, his remains were returned to the United States. Today, he is buried in Shaarei Zion Cemetery, Rosedale, Maryland.

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