Write On!

L.G. Morgan, Seaman 1st Class, WWII

In Uncategorized on November 11, 2011 at 7:57 pm

U.S.Navy – 1943-1946

I turned 17 years old in 1943 and joined the Navy immediately. We had been at war with Japan since December 7, 1941. Our country had spent the last 2 years building ships, tanks, etc. and was just now ready to take offensive action against Japan. Japan had attacked us on December 7, 1941 in Hawaii and almost destroyed our complete fleet of Navy vessels.

I participated in 5 invasions on islands held by Japan. They were Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands in February of 1944, Saipan in Mariana Islands in July of 1944, Peleliu in the Caroline Islands in late 1944 and Anguar also in the Caroline islands in late 1944. My last combat action was Iwo Jima in February of 1945. More than 5,000 Americans were killed there in one week.

I served on several ships and do no know which ones were temporary duty or a regular assignment. I moved back and forth, sometimes I came back to the same ship.

Since I can not write details of each invasion I will concentrate on Iwo Jima.

We arrived in the Iwo Jima area 4 or 5 days prior to the invasion in February. I will write about the part of the invasion that I participated in. My job as an Under water Demolition Team was to clear the beach where the landing was to take place and also any obstacles in the approach to the beach. We had aerial photos of the area that showed everything on land but nothing under the water. (at this point I should tell you we were the forerunners of the Navy Seals, the name changed later)

We went in and blew up all of the obstacles 3 days before the invasion. Sometimes we could see Japanese soldiers among the brush on the island. They were shooting at us with rifles and machine guns. We had Battleships, Cruise, Destroyer and airplanes with a constant barrage against them, so they had to stay holed up most of the time. We were within 100 feet of them at times. This was in daylight although some of our work was at night.

Two days before the invasion we had to blow up a lot of coral reef to make it possible for our troops to get in. We did this at night. We still had ships lobbing shells at the Japanese, but we had almost constant small arms fire falling among us. We worked most of that night and finally got enough coral out of the way and marked the open channels for our invasion. We thought we were through, but on the day of the invasion many obstacles were on the beach again. We went back in just minutes ahead of the Army and Marines and blew them up again. We had ships and airplanes strafing and bombing within 5 feet of us, but we got it done.

The troops came past us (we were in shallow water) they poured on the beach, many were killed there. There were dead Americans piled up on one side and injured ones on the other side. 5,000 Americans were killed there and twice that many injured. Compare that to our wars today, remember this all happened in one week’s time.

We conquered the Island in 7 days or at least most of it.

Most of the other island invasions were similar to this one, however, I did have a couple of pleasant things happen to me while I was there.

My parents had 5 sons in the Military during WWII and the Korean War. My ship had some damage at Saipan and we had to go to Guadalcanal for repairs. We went by the Marshall Islands for supplies. We also had mail there (sometimes it may be 3 or 4 months between mail deliveries)

I picked up the mail on the Island. There were only three letters in the bag, one was for me. It was my brother and he told me he was in Guadalcanal, that’s where we were headed. We were there 3 weeks getting repairs and supplies. I spent every day trying to find him, I finally succeeded on our last day. He was about 25 miles from me. Our ship was leaving sometime that night. I went anyways. We stayed up all night, at daylight we saw my ship going by real slow.

The Captain knew where I was and came by to give me a chance to get on the ship. We woke up someone sleeping on a boat and he carried me several miles and caught my ship, pulled up beside it and I got aboard. The Captain never said a word to me and vice versa.

However Bud (my brother) sent me off with a fifth of whiskey. Me and two others hid out to drink it that night. The Captain showed up where we were, still said nothing but he reached into his pocket and held out a glass. He drank more than the rest of us.

We left there and headed for the invasion of Peleliu. It was similar to the ones before I Saipan and the Marshall Islands.

About two weeks after the invasion I again went to pick up our mail. This time we had one letter. It was for me from my brother June (a Marine) He said he couldn’t tell me where he was but he had seen my ship going around his island.

By now the Island was pretty well secure. I got permission to go to the island and look for him. The Captain didn’t tell me how long I could stay, so I stayed 3 days. I found him the first day and we spent 3 days that neither of us remembers too much about, but I do remember the MP’s coming out on the air strip and getting us. Our fighter planes were taking off. It was about midnight. They took us to our tent and told us we should go to sleep, but we stayed up all night, ate breakfast, slept 2 hours and started again.

It was obvious at that time the war was soon going to be over. This ended my experience in combat. I was sent to train for other things after I left the Pacific.

L.G. Morgan, Seaman 1st Class, WWII. L.G. went on to work in the newspaper printing business and as an organizer and lobbyist for the AFLCIO in the sate Legislature and Congress working for the working class and poor. He and his wife of 65 years attends Cypress Baptist Church in Bossier City. He is a devout Christian. He is also a golfer and a joker, a beloved one.

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  2. My names dillan butts, im 19. LG morgan is my great grandfather , and like him i serve in the military, i am in the LA National gaurd. And i joined the military hopeing to oneday follow in his footsteps

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