Home At Last

(True Story)

In early August of 1942 two submarines. The USS Argonaut and the USS Nautilus left Hawaii with a total of 211 men from Company B of the 2nd Raider Battalion, a Marine unit organized and trained to conduct commando and guerrilla-style attacks behind enemy lines left for the Makin Atoll in the Gilbert Islands assigned to land on the island of Butaritari.

These Raiders under the command of Lt. Col. Evans Carlson and his executive officer Maj. James Roosevelt, son of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, were assigned to bring destruction and confusion to the Japanese on Butaritari and to cause the Japanese to move forces from other areas to this diverted landing.

They landed on August 17, 1942 and brought havoc to the Japanese forces killing more than 160 of them in the two day engagement. The raiders lost 18 marines and one Navy Corpsman. Because of the time constraints required to make their retreat to the subs and the high and crashing surf they were unable to evacuate the bodies of their 19 fallen comrades. They asked the men of the island to bury their friends so that the Japanese could not find the graves.

These raiders became known during World War II as Carlson’s Raiders and were featured for this battle in a 1943 Hollywood movie production directed by Ray Enright and staring Randolph Scott.

Sgt. Clyde Thomason whose body was one of the nineteen was the first enlisted Marine to earn the Medal of Honor in World War II.

In 1999 an 82- year-old islander named Bureimoa Tokarei told the American authorities that he had helped to bury the American Marines as a boy of 16. A recovery team from the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory, Hawaii, uncovered on the third attempt the bodies of the 19 marines who had been carried for 58 years as missing in action. The islanders had buried the Marines with their steel helmets in place, their dog tags on the bodies, and their rifles across their chest.

The bodies were returned to the United States and on August 17, 2001 they were given the burial of our honored fallen at Arlington. The President’s Own, United States Marine Band played at the occasion and Gen. James L. Jones, Commandant of the Marine Corps, spoke. After 58 years, families were able to say goodbye and the Marines kept their word to the fallen, They Would Not Be Left Behind. They were Home at Last.

If Marines will do so much to bring back their men you can be assured that our Lord will take care of all of His fallen children.

(Frank Stevenson, Cathy and Becky’s, father was a Marine Raider, he might have served in this invasion, I am not certain.)

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Published in: on September 1, 2015 at 11:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

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