Dear Ms. Burns,
My cousin Charles Ray SWAN, a paratrooper, was killed during the Normandy invasion in France in 1944. He was buried in a military cemetary in France.
After the war, his body was returned to the United States and reburied on November 20, 1948 in the Sunnyland Cemetary at Del City, Oklahoma Co., OK.
My wife's uncle, Jack Thomas BURGE Sr., served in 1943 on Guadalcanal &
Bougainville in the Solomon Islands in the 3rd Marine Division,
Headquarters Battalion, in the South Pacific during the second world
10 Marines from the 3rd Division were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for gallantry above and beyond the call of duty: 4 on Guam, 3 on Iwo Jima, & 3 on Bougainville.
The ( * ) means the medal was awarded posthumously. These men gave that last full measure of devotion in order to save others.
*PFC Henry Gurke 3d Raider Bn.Neche, SD Bougainville
2dLt. John H. Leims Co. B, 1st Bn 9th Mar.Chicago, IL Iwo Jima
*PFC Leonard F. Mason Co. E, 2d Bn., 3d Mar.Middlesboro, KY Guam
*Sgt. Robert A. Owens Co. A,1st Bn., 3d Mar.Greenville, SC Bougainville
PFC Luther Skaggs Jr. Co. K, 3d Bn., 3d Mar.Henderson, KY Guam
Sgt. Herbert J. Thomas Co. B, 1st Bn., 3d Mar.Columbus, OH Bougainville
Pvt. Wilson D. Watson Co. G, 2d Bn., 9th Mar.Tuscumbia, AL Iwo Jima
Cpl. Hershel W.Williams Co. C, 1st Bn., 21st Mar.Fairmont, WV Iwo Jima
Capt. Louis H. Wilson Co. F, 9th Mar.Brandon, MS Guam
*PFC Frank P. Witek Co. B 1st Bn., 9th Mar. Derby, CT Guam
"J.T", as he is called, won't talk about his experiences during the
war. All he will say is that he doesn't want to remember those
We found a V-Mail letter that J.T. sent home to his folks which
contained a poem written by "one of the boys" in his outfit. I think
that you will be proud to read about how a young man far away from
home dealt with the horror & loneliness of war.
The name of the Marine who wrote this poem is unknown to
"Well, here we are, in the land of green,
The hottest, rottenest, place we've seen:
With plenty of rain, muck, and mud,
Mosquitoes, and gnats to drink your blood:"
"Green forests of hell,
With your jungle smell:
Where snow is a myth,
And the sun casts it's spell;
Where its hot, hot, hot,
'Til you think you'll rot;
Hot breezes whispering,
"Land that God forgot".
"Sweat stinking bodies, cutting their way,
Through the heart of the jungle, all of the day:
The sun scorching, burning, morning 'til night,
Blistering down with it's hellish light."
"Vines grasping, holding, tripping your feet,
The air stinking, choking, it's clammy heat:
Fanning your body to a feverish high,
'Til you don't give a damn if you live or die."
"Feet rising, falling, plodding ahead.
A million thoughts racing thru each head:
While it's march, stumble up, you've got a job to do,
And you've got to keep up with the rest of the crew."
"I'm a "Leatherneck" - "Leatherneck", that's your cry,
But the sun only mocks you, shinning high:
Turns your rasping breath to a stifled sob,
Sets your racing blood to a rhythmic throb."
"When the sun sinks low in it's watery grave,
And night steals up, just the thing you crave:
'Til it's cold damp chill gets in your bones,
And you swear and curse at the tropic zone."
"Well, night time comes, so you think you'll sleep,
And as night wears thru, you count some sheep:
Just to help you out - but it's no go,
You're awake with your thoughts of long ago."
"Sleep for awhile, then the dawn breaks thru,
And you wake up feeling that the nightmares thru:
No, you're not back home, and it's not a dream,
You're really a part of the hellish scheme."
"The same routine, just driving you mad,
Familiar faces - silent and sad:
Strained, feigning gaiety, yet in each mind,
Lie memories of loved ones left behind."
"We're weary of seeing this landscape green,
of casting our eyes on it's changeless scene:
Tired of swamps, rain, the broiling sun,
Of taking a hill on a broken run."
"Yet each day brings new hope as the sun starts to sink,
And we stand on the edge of the waters brink:
Where our thoughts sail out to an ocean wave,
'Til they reach the shore of the land we crave."
"And each thought that we send is a little prayer,
For all the loved ones waiting there:
Though our stay may be long, some day we'll return,
To the land and life for which we yearn."
"No, we don't want to live a life of ease,
But take us away from these tropic seas:
Back to the land that's God's own home,
And may we never have cause to roam."
"Mocking and taunting me - God, when will I be free."