In my 86th Year, I sometimes let my mind wander back to the days when I first met the Heroes of Guadalcanal, they were still heroes then. Every Marine admired those that went first, who were left on the island with not enough food or medical supplies. They were commanded by the best of the best, finally beating an enemy, though the Secretary of War and the Chiefs of Staff had all but written them off. Admiral Turner had withdrawn all his ships regardless of the fact that all supplies had not been off loaded. The Marines landed with less than a 30 day's supply though 90 days was suppose to be the norm. They fought with 1903 rifles and World War I ammunition. There were great Medal of Honor recipients that came out of that battle with names that are still
recognized, but many do not really know who or why. Mitchell, Basilone, Bailey, Bauer, Casamento, Edson, Foss. There were Marine heroes that the names are hardly recognized, like LtCol. Frank Goetige, Barney Ross, Charles Arndt, Frank Few and Joseph Spaulding.
Of course we all remember Chesty Puller whose Commander was Alexander Vandergrift who become the Commandant of the Marine Corps and is maybe one of the reasons the Marine Corps was saved by his, "On bended Knee" speech to Congress.
I remember old Marines talking about Chesty Puller, about him diving in a bomb shelter when a shell landed nearby and nearly burying him, and his cussing when he pulled himself out about how any Marine that violated fire discipline on the Canal, would be put in the listening post which was outside the wire.
Marines write in about Marines they met that fought at Iwo Jima, but none about the first that fought at Guadalcanal. I have a small box that was given to me by a friend who returned to Guadalcanal and scooped a small box of sand from the beach. It is my box of Sacred Soil. I also have a box of sand from Iwo Jima that is sacred too. One of the greatest times in my life was when I went to the 200th Birthday Celebration at the Queen Mary in Long Beach. There on the stage was at least 10 Medal of Honor recipients. The thrill was because each was wearing his Medal. I served under eight Commandants of the Marine Corps, I think that Gen. Thomas Holcomb and Gen. Alex Vandergrift were by far the greatest of them all. I knew PX Kelly when he was a Captain. I fixed the pistol he was going to shoot in the Marine Corps matches. I recently saw a drawing by a Marine Illustrator of a Marine coming out of Fallujah. It reminded me so much of the drawing of a Marine coming
out of Guadalcanal entitled "Too Many, Too Close, Too Long" drawn by Donald L. Dickson. Here's copies of both pictures.
GySgt. F. L. Rousseau,