Lt Alexander Bonnyman and his assault party storming a Japanese stronghold. Bonnyman received the Medal of Honor posthumously. (Credits: NARA)

Veteran Remembering Tarawa during WWII Fights Back Tears

World War II Veteran Bob Ashburn recalls witnessing the gruesome aftermath of the Bloody Battle of Tarawa as an 18-year-old teenager. 

Tarawa was such a bloody battle and an often overlooked one and I guess you guys got there probably at the tail-end a little bit but I bet you saw some of the carnage and here you are teenager, what did you see and what did it feel like?

I’ll tell you that, that hurt you bad. I’ll never forget it, damn boys laying around, flies all over them, see at first they let us go ashore, you know,get off the ship for a little bit, but that’s all you saw, here these bulldozers building, digging, big ditches and just bulldozing those Japs in there but all the, the American guys they had some grave outfits, found out who they were and that, but some of them were so blown up they couldn’t tell that you see that in the graveyard there U.S Marine, unknown, there wasn’t enough of them left to find out, it was terrible.

I couldn’t imagine being an 18-year-old and looking at that and feeling so bad for them and their families and then probably also thinking that could be me.

Yeah, fortunately we didn’t have any guys aboard that had relatives in the Marines at that, but some of my schoolmates did, it’s hard to say how bad you feel, but basically we just hoping nothing would happen to us, and it didn’t, that’s why they called us the Lucky T.