A letter to the editor from the July 1944
issue of LEATHERNECK MAGAZINE
For five months I have been hospitalized as a result of slowing down a machine gun bullet while wading in at Tarawa on the morning of 20 November [1943.]
I have had a great deal of time to think about what happened there and especially to remember the men who went in with me. Those men had engraved in their hearts the true meaning of the Corps and its grave responsibilities.
There was a job to be done and every one of those kids went in determined to do it. I say kids because they were mighty young; but after the first shock of combat was over they were men and also that special type of man; a fighting Marine.
I had over fifty percent casualties in my platoon.
To say that the men were willing to die would be a lie; no man is willing to die.
They were, however, prepared to die, if in sacrificing themselves they could accomplish their mission.
Tarawa was an epic of the highest type of courage and comradeship. Words, especially the printed word, are woefully inadequate in expressing feelings for such actions; in honoring the men who were there.
It is hard to live with them, train them, and be their leader and still see them die. The greatest comradeship is tempered in the firefight.
Knowing all this, I wrote down a few lines as a requiem to all the men who are still there, whom I knew so well, and also the others whom I know only by what they did there.
1st Lt Welles R. Bliss
U. S. Naval Hospital
Brooklyn Navy Yard
Brooklyn, N. Y.