Filthy, unshaven, wearing tattered camouflaged uniforms with muddy boots, these men were totally indistinguishable among the previously Top Secret Marine Raiders as they returned from combat. They were not with the Raiders to kill the enemy, although they were sometimes forced to do so.
Who were they? What did they do? They were the Navy Combat Corpsmen,
Doctors and Chaplains of the Fleet Marine force that trained with, lived with and fought alongside, the famed “Suicide Squads” of World War II, the U.S. Marine Raiders.
Assigned to each platoon, the Corpsman was called upon to give first aid to Marines wounded on the battlefield, often sacrificing his own life to do so. As Raiders they earned an everlasting place in the glorious history of the Marine Corps, in recognition of their battles against the Japanese enemy in World War II.
The supposedly invincible warriors of the Japanese Empire suffered their first defeat in World War II at the hands of this small band of hush, hush Marines at Tulagi, British Solomon Islands in 1942.
Raiders fought at Guadalcanal, Midway, Makin, Bougainville, and New Georgia as the 1 st Marine Raider Regiment, and as the 4th Marines at Guam and Okinawa the last battle of WW II.
Raiders and Former Raiders fought in every major island battle in the Pacific during the war.
Chosen to spearhead the invasion of the Japanese mainland, they instead became the first occupying troops to land on the Japanese homeland in over 400 years.
This small band of intrepid Marine and Navy fighters numbered only 8,054 men. Yet they were awarded 7 Medals of Honor, 137 Navy Crosses, 21 Army Distinguished Service Crosses, 350 Silver Star Medals, 18 Legions of Merit and had 30 Ships named for them.
THIS IS THEIR STORY!
JAMES GLEASON Served as a Corpsman with the First Marine Raider Regiment, he is believed to have been the youngest Raider Corpsman to see combat, at the age of 17. Later in WW II he served on independent duty aboard a Navy Destroyer and a Navy Mine sweeper in the Pacific Theater of War. He was recalled to active duty to serve with a Marine Air Group during the Korean War. He retired in 1992; following a career as Director of Resort Development for 3 multi-national firms, as an owner of a book store in Williamsburg, VA and a teacher at the College of William and Mary. Mr. Gleason is Director Emeriti of the Friends of the Swem Library, College of William and Mary, and has served as a Director of the American Resort and Development Association, Vice President, Secy and Director of the Marine Raider Association and as a Board Member of 7 other corporations. As a military historian he has written stories for the Marine Corps League Magazine and the Raider Patch.
JOHN McCarthy has been a journalist for over 50 years. Editing and publishing his own automotive, RV sports and travel publications, he took on the job of doing the USMRA newsletter, the Raider Patch in 1997. He is also an avid historian, on subjects such as World War II and Marine Raider operations and history. His professional touch and subject knowledge has added greatly to the prestige and acceptance of the Raider Patch as one of the finest of any, World War II unit newsletters. He served in the 2nd Engineers Combat Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, U.S. Army.