Veterans

August 9, 2012

Vets gather at Arlington to mark 70th anniversary of Guadalcanal

Tags:
by J.D. Leipold
Army News
Army photograph by J.D. Leipold
Guadalcanal Marine Elmer Hawkins reflects on what took place 70 years ago on Aug. 7, 1942, when he served in the pivotal six-month battle campaign in the south Pacific. Hawkins serves as president of the Guadalcanal Campaign Veterans Association which recognizes all Marines, Soldiers, Sailors and Coast Guardsmen who served in the campaign.

Guadalcanal Marine Elmer Hawkins reflects on what took place 70 years ago on Aug. 7, 1942, when he served in the pivotal six-month battle campaign in the south Pacific. Hawkins serves as president of the Guadalcanal Campaign Veterans Association which recognizes all Marines, Soldiers, Sailors and Coast Guardsmen who served in the campaign.

Seventy years after the Aug. 7, 1942, start to what would be a brutal, six-month-long battle over an island in the South Pacific, veterans of Guadalcanal gathered at Arlington National Cemetery to pay respects to their fellow Marines, soldiers, sailors and Coast Guardsmen.

Fifteen members of the Guadalcanal Campaign Veterans Association, or GCVA, gathered in the cemetery’s amphitheater for a roll call of those known and to recognize the unknown battle buddies who had passed away over the last year. In their 80s and 90s now, the veterans were accompanied to the event by wives, sons, daughters, grandchildren and friends.

“We want to honor all participants of Guadalcanal, those who perished in the air, sea and land and those who came home, raised families, started careers and have since passed,” said GCVA’s national secretary, Gerald Mohn Jr., whose father had served with the 1st Marine Division on Guadalcanal. “We think it’s important that these men be honored for their sacrifice, they are the greatest generation.”

U.S. Marines rest in the field on Guadalcanal, circa August-December 1942.

Nicholas Schlosser, of the Marine Corps History Division, discussed the significance of the Guadalcanal Campaign to the eventual Allied victory over Imperial Japanese forces in the Pacific.

“I would say Guadalcanal was no less than the turning point of the war in the Pacific theater,” Schlosser said. “There were very few battles in the war that were fought equally on air, land and sea that hang in the balance for so long. The battle was six months, and up until mid-November, if not December, there were still concerns that the Allies might not win.”

Schlosser said it was the determination of Allied forces that made Guadalcanal a decisive battle in the Allie’s favor.

“It was really through the fortitude and courage of all those fighting on the island, at sea and in the air around the island, that enabled the Allies to achieve victory and advance,” he added. “It no longer was a question of will the Allies win the war; it became a matter of when will Japan lose the war and how long until surrender.”

Master sergeant stripes on his green campaign vest, William J. Hanusek, was just 21 when he found himself on Guadalcanal as a medic with the 164th Infantry Regiment of the Americal Division. Hanusek was one of 15 members of the Guadalcanal Campaign Veterans Association who commemorated at Arlington National Cemetery the 70th anniversary of the south Pacific battle that raged from Aug. 7, 1942 until Feb. 9, 1943.

The invasion force to hit the beaches on Aug. 7, 1942, was made up of about 16,000 Marines which would later swell to a force of 60,000 joint service personnel, including Soldiers from the 164th Infantry Regiment of the Americal Division. The participating Allied forces there included forces from Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the British Solomon Islands, Tonga and Fiji.

A soldier’s story

One of those American soldiers at Guadalcanal included William J. Hanusek, of Mt. Pleasant, Penn. When he turned 21, Hanusek found himself drafted while in the process of enlisting.

He wanted to be a bulldozer or crane operator, but during processing into the Army, he was asked if he’d had any special training under his belt.

Hanusek told the captain processing him that he’d taken a first-aid course when he was with the Civilian Conservation Corps for Youth in 1936. That was enough to get him sent off to medic school after boot camp. Hanusek eventually found himself caring for wounded Soldiers in Guadalcanal … while carrying a carbine.

Hanusek said that in the Pacific theater, unlike in the European theater, Allied medical personnel were routinely shot.

“I had some great friends in Guadalcanal,” he recalled. “In the position you’re in, the guy next to you in the foxhole is your best friend in the world, he’s more than a brother to you. I remember him to this day, Kenny Davis, a young boy from North Carolina. He made it through the war, but died about a year after the war ended.

“At the time it was all really horrible to me. I remember snipers, bullets right next to your ear, your head, friends who were shot in front of you and those next to you who were decimated by artillery fire,” he said. “Seventy years later, I don’t have the nightmares or flashbacks anymore, those things don’t bother me anymore, but what does bother me is trying to walk and move around.”

Veterans of the Guadalcanal Campaign of Aug. 7, 1942, salute as Taps is sounded after they presented a wreath in recognition of the Marines, Soldiers, Sailors and Coast Guardsmen who served in the six-month south Pacific campaign.

Hanusek went on to make the Army a career, retiring as a master sergeant in 1964.

Following the tribute in the Arlington amphitheater, the Guadalcanal vets and their families gathered at the Tomb of the Unknowns where Marines and Guadalcanal veterans Elmer Hawkins and Charles Farmer placed a wreath.

On the 70th anniversary of the Guadalcanal campaign which began Aug. 7, 1942, veterans of the Pacific battle and their families gathered at Arlington National Cemetery to honor the Marines, Soldiers, Sailors and Coast Guardsmen who fought in the six-month campaign.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines July 25, 2014

News: VA reform bills stalled by partisan bickering - Plans for a comprehensive Veterans Affairs Department reform bill that appeared all but finished a month ago devolved into partisan bickering and funding fights July 24, casting doubt on the future of a deal.   Business: Airbus, Boeing, Lockheed announce bids on Danish fighter competition; Saab withdraws -...
 
 

News Briefs July 25, 2014

Marines investigate corporal who vanished in Iraq U.S. Marine Corp officers are launching a formal investigation into whether a Lebanese-American Marine deserted his unit in Iraq or later after returning to the United States. A spokesman for the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune said July 24 that Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun is being...
 
 
Air Force photograph by A1C Erin OíShea

U.S. Forces display military might at Farnborough

Air Force photograph by A1C Erin O’Shea Capt. Tom Meyers discusses the F-15E Strike Eagle’s capabilities with spectators July 17, 2014, at the Farnborough International Airshow in England. Public access was granted ...
 

 
raptors4

Raptors, Falcons fuel up in desert skies

Three U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors assigned to the 325th Fighter Wing, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., fly alongside a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 93rd Air Refueling Squadron, Fairchild AFB, Wash., during Red Flag 14-3, Ju...
 
 
lm-kmax

Lockheed Martin’s unmanned cargo helicopter team returns from deployment

After lifting more than 4.5 million pounds of cargo and conducting thousands of delivery missions for the U.S. Marine Corps, the Lockheed Martin and Kaman Aerospace Corporation K-MAX cargo unmanned aircraft system has returned ...
 
 
Air Force photograph by A1C Thomas Spangler

Sun sets on Red Flag 14-3

Air Force photograph by A1C Thomas Spangler The sun sets behind a row of F-16 Fighting Falcons during Red Flag 14-3, July 16, 2014, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Red Flag provides a series of intense air-to-air combat scenario...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>