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 Copyright© East Bench
 Publishing LLC, 2013
Book Cover; Title: Combat Marine at Seventeen, by Don L. Jardine, PH.D.; Point Man, 103 True Stories, U.S.M.C. photos of Saipan Campaign, Tinian Campaign, Nagasaki Atomic bomb area; "If every life were a book, Dr. Jardine's life would be a library."

If you enjoy true adventure short stories, I promise you will love this book.

You will read experiences I lived during World War II, and also interesting true stories from before and after the war.

  • Have you ever been strafed by an enemy plane?
  • Have you ever been blinded? By an enemy hand grenade?
  • Have you seen, heard and smelled a human being on fire?
  • Have you ever killed anyone?
  • Have you ever had someone beg you to end their life?
  • Have you swum with sharks? A great white shark?
  • Have you walked through the site of an atomic bomb blast?
  • Have you seen adults with babies and children in their arms leap to their death to avoid capture?
  • Have you been aboard a ship in the middle of a deadly mine field?
  • Have you witnessed an attacking kamikaze plane diving directly at you and your ship? Then lifting over your ship’s deck to sink the ship beyond you?
  • Have you stood guard duty, alone, for 28 hours in an isolated place surrounded by a dark jungle, strange sounds (and perhaps enemy soldiers)?
  • Have you drunk from a stream, and filled your canteens, then found bleeding bodies upstream?
  • Have you ever been absolutely alone many thousands of miles from home?
  • Have you had gangrene from a shrapnel wound and faced amputation?
  • Have you been aboard an airplane—loaded with injured Marines—that came within inches of crashing on takeoff after hitting an enemy bomb hole in the runway?
  • Have you ever had a fever that robbed you of your memory, and disoriented you alone in enemy jungles for days?
  • Have you cried when you saw good friends killed or badly injured?
  • Have you been on a ship during a storm so severe that the captain sent out S.O.S. signals?
  • Have you hidden under damp vegetation surrounded by enemies speaking in their foreign tongue?
  • Have you ever been in a military field hospital “ward” (tent) on a folding cot that sank several inches into the mud, tended by an army truck driver and an army cook? For 28 days?
  • Have you ever been so tired, so exhausted, you felt you had no control over yourself?
  • Have you ever tried to sleep, curled around the base of a tree, when mosquitoes were sucking your blood?
  • Do you know the odor of rotting human flesh? Was it nearby? Were you eating at the time? Can you still smell it?
  • Have you ever watched as an enemy hand grenade flew through the air toward you? Did it explode between you and a friend, less than six feet away?
  • Have you ever piloted a small airplane in a blizzard? After dark? With no radio?
  • Have you ever flown into a box canyon, unable to climb over the mountain ahead, unable to land or to turn left or right? (and there is no reverse on an airplane!)
  • Have you ever been attacked, repeatedly, by a huge golden eagle? (And you were 12 years old!)
  • Has a wild ram ever tried to gore you with his huge curved horns?
  • Have you walked on snow drifts over telephone wires
  • Have you ever, as a child, hidden behind your mother’s skirts as migrating Indians, unable to speak English, begged for food
  • Have you ever held your breath under water so long you thought your lungs would burst before you could reach the surface?
  • Have you ever, as a ballroom bouncer, had to fight four people at a time? Was the city mayor watching? Did he then hire you to be the city marshal?
  • Has a teenage driver of a stolen car tried to run you over? Were you shooting at the car?

These stories, and other true adventures, are described in this book.

Where were you and what were you doing at age 17? and 18? and 19? Playing football, baseball, basketball? Cruising in your car? Dating? Watching television?

I was learning to use a variety of hand grenades (concussion, thermite, fragmentation); to hit distant targets with an M1 rifle, a .45 caliber pistol, a .30 caliber machine gun; how to fire a bazooka and use a flame thrower, etc. All of which would better enable me to kill people.

I have two Purple Hearts, and qualified for more. I served more than two years in the Marine Corps, was 17 years old when I first experienced combat, and was honorably discharged after the war, while still in my teens. That was not unique. Many of my fellow Marines were younger than I, but I had full confidence in their abilities to do what was necessary while we were under fire from enemy Japanese.

Yet at that same age, on leave from advanced training at Fort Pendleton and wearing my Marine uniform, I was denied admittance to a movie because it was too violent! And many years later, on a cruise ship with my wife, I saw a sign that said, “Passengers must be 21 to play Bingo!” It still bothers me to hear anyone 17 years old referred to as “a child.” In combat, I soon learned that an enemy killed by a seventeen-year-old Marine is just as dead as one killed by someone older.

This is not exclusively a blood and guts book. Although it includes several of my most memorable combat experiences as a Marine during World War II, I’ve shared stories about a fascinating boyhood in Idaho (hunting, fishing, Indians, rattlesnakes, trapping) and stories about adventures while piloting airplanes after World War II.

Frankly, I’ve tried, as best I am able, to forget the sights, sounds, smells, and fears experienced in combat—ships firing big guns, airplanes (theirs and ours) dropping bombs, enemy fighter planes strafing with all their machine guns firing as we clawed into the earth beneath us, small arms and machine guns firing from concealed positions, and the screams of dying Japanese and of friends who were the unlucky ones.

As a plus, the primitive conditions under which we often lived overseas have helped me to really appreciate a clean, cold drink, a fresh water shower, a comfortable bed with clean, cool sheets, the variety of good foods available in my refrigerator, the peace and quiet of my home (without mosquitoes) etc. We have many wonderful things too often unappreciated, taken for granted without thought.

It is still a joy for me to make my own decisions, having the freedom to do what I want to do, go where I want to go when I want to, even to be what I want to be. Those things are not the military way.

To those of you who have never been in combat, I truly and sincerely wish I had the words to describe for you how fortunate you are to be able to enjoy your life without the mental baggage carried by all combat veterans. Some—more than others—still live with vivid experiences that relate closely to the imaginations of writers for television and movies. We lived it!

World War II hasn’t ended. And it won’t as long as a combat veteran remains among the living.

No words can let you know what it is like to await your turn to go down the side of a ship rolling in heavy seas, hanging onto a cargo net while descending as rapidly as possible to the small, heaving landing boats that will carry you onto a beach crisscrossed with fire from friendly and enemy guns, exploding mortar shells and bombs. You know that adventure and perhaps injury or even death is awaiting.

Even at my advanced age (I am completing this book at age 87) I still have nightmares that awaken me in a cold sweat. I clearly recall the terrible sounds and smells, explosions felt like blows to the ears and the body, the whole world shaking as guns and bombs blast men and machines, smoke and cordite filling the air, burning the eyes and filling the lungs with each tortured breath.

Yes, there was excitement—but with a fear you’ll never experience at any amusement park or in any movie or television show.

Mix these things with the knowledge that home is thousands of miles away, that you know only a few dozen of the thousands of young men with whom you are sharing these feelings, with the terror of projectiles whistling past you (hopefully) and exploding near you (inevitably).

Close your eyes and try to get a small taste, a visual image, of how different all of these things were compared to your life at age 17. Can you feel those bullets whistling past you? Do those huge naval guns impact your eardrums? How about the omnipresent fear of injury—or death? Can you taste it? Smell it? And is there any appreciation for the senselessness of what surrounds you? Hundreds of ships and boats carrying young men whose main purpose in life is taking the lives of other young men wearing a different uniform, speaking another language, crouching behind concealment or cover in an attempt to remain alive or uninjured, and probably just as frightened as you are. They too are far from home. They too have the same feelings and concerns.

But you don’t worry about them, or even much about those around you. It’s your world. Your danger. Your excitement and anticipation. Yes, anticipation. You don’t know what to expect as you wade through the warm, blood-colored surf. What will be your fate? How will you perform? Which friends will you lose? What will tomorrow bring? Or—will there even be a tomorrow?

I was no hero, but I knew many who were. I am proud to have served with them. We were like brothers, and I am still saddened for the families of those who did not survive. I wish I could tell all of them so—but most have now passed on, and we’re told that more than a thousand World War II veterans die in the United States every day. Soon, we will all be history. The fears and sacrifices of so many, in all branches of the service and all theaters of war will only be located in libraries, mostly in books that will be covered with dust because how many of our fellow Americans have any interest in history? Do they care that we fought for them as well as for ourselves?

I pray that the old axiom—history repeats itself—will not prove true regarding World War II. It hasn’t yet. The Korean War and Vietnam War came closest. By far. But warfare is changing. Battlefields won’t always be on the other side of the world. The loss of the Twin Towers in New York City prove that. And the horrors of war or terrorism will be experienced by countless people in the future—not all will be young men.

It is important for my readers to know one thing about the Marines in World War II. We were all under orders to refrain from keeping journals or diaries or any written records. And unlike the other branches of the military, in the Marines the possession of a camera was a general-court-martial offense. So, as you read accounts by other military personnel, full of details concerning where they were, their means of transportation, conversations, experiences, names of men with whom they served, dates, and photos they took with their own cameras, remember that they were not under the restrictions imposed upon Marines.

I have relied on my 87-year-old memory and on notes jotted down since my service, to provide that which is in this book. I trust and believe it is accurate, though frustratingly incomplete.

And, it is all true. I lived it—and still do!