Fighting My Way Ashore on the Japanese‐Held Island of Eniwetok
Sgt. Richard Perkins, Black Hawk, SD
Machine Gun Section Leader, WWII
We had to take two major islands of the Eniwetok Atoll with beach landings. You might call that an exciting time, to say the least. Landings are always pretty messy. The first few minutes of the movie “Saving Private Ryan” will give you an idea what a landing is like. The movie was very realistic of the landings I was on. Those first landing craft had no armor and no guns on them. They were just floating tubs used to transport troops inland. In a typical landing one minute before the first wave of landing craft hit the beach, all naval bombardment stops. Everything goes dead quiet. I was in the second wave, and by that time the mortars started popping in rounds.
That first landing was pretty spooky because I didn’t know what to expect. Right after jumping out of the landing craft into the water and making my way to the beach, a mortar round struck a Marine right next to me dead center. It was a terrible thing, and all I could think of was welcome to the war.
We started to move up a little and there was a hole in front of us. I dumped a grenade in the hole, and up popped a Japanese soldier like a jack in the box. The grenade didn’t kill him, and he almost stepped on my head. I took care of him and again, welcome to the war.
One night we spotted a great big dump of wooden crates, so instead of digging a foxhole in the coral we decided to crawl up amongst the boxes and get some shut eye. The next morning we were curious what might be in the boxes, which had Japanese writing on them. We pulled a lid off one crate, and to our surprise it was full of dynamite. This was the first dynamite bed I had ever heard of. If something would have touched them off we would still be traveling, if you know what I mean.