Black Hills Marine Recalls August Carnage on Guadalcanal
Dallas Blomquist of Piedmont, South Dakota, remembers that they couldn’t fully let down the front ramp of the Higgins boat when they reached the shore of Guadalcanal in 1942. “There were already too many dead and dying Marines on the beach,” he said. He had spent the previous night in the boat waiting for a chance to make a landing.
As part of the 1st Marine Division, Blomquist especially remembers the unsanitary conditions that awaited the combatants. “I spent 28 continuous days in a foxhole. We wore our clothes and boots all the time, night and day. We wouldn’t take them off even to go to the bathroom.”
Blomquist said that he had received no more than 3 weeks training before being shipped to the Pacific. “I told them that I’d grown up on dairy farm in northern Minnesota and that hunting with Dad was a big part of my boyhood.”
As a rifleman at Guadalcanal, he recalls stumbling upon a dead Marine who had a Browning Automatic Rifle. “I wanted the extra firepower,” he recalls, “so I took it. I remained a BAR man the rest of my time in the war.”
Later, he remembers that finding a watermelon patch left over by an English plantation owner was an unexpected treat. Another small comfort came his way when he traded a captured Japanese sword for a quart of whiskey. “Medal of Honor aviator Joe Foss was the officer with the whiskey.” Foss went on to become governor of South Dakota. Blomquist also recalls the Navajo code talkers who were part of his unit, as well as his battalion commander Chesty Puller.
Months later in the fighting, in November, Blomquist climbed to an overlook with his BAR assistant Leon Frisbee. “We saw the ship carrying the Sullivan brothers get hit.”
Later on Peleliu, Blomquist climbed a knoll to see what was on the other side. “The place was swarming with Japs, busy as ants.” He ran back down, knowing that mortar rounds should be directed toward the enemy. “But I was then hit by a mortar myself and woke up to find myself on a ship out at sea.” The fight was over for Blomquist.
US Marine Dallas Blomquist spoke to the Black Hills Veterans Writing Group on Saturday, September 14, 2013 at the Western Dakota Technical Institute in Rapid City, South Dakota, 9 am. Blomquist described his combat on Guadalcanal and Peleliu with a Browning Automatic Rifle.