Segment 1


Gravois was born in Saint Gabriel, Louisiana and grew up in Edgard, Louisiana until he was 17.Pearl Harbor was on 7 December 1941. On 2 January 1942 Gravois got his father's permission and enlisted in the Marine Corps. He was 17.The Marine Corps attracted Gravois. His father had been in the Army. Gravois was sent to boot camp in San Diego. At the age of 17 he was the youngest fellow in the outfit. He was the youngest fellow in every outfit he was in until he got out.Boot camp was kind of rough and that is where he got the name "Gravy" because no one could pronounce Gravois. He missed roll call 3 times before he was nicknamed Gravy and that was straightened out.Boot camp was rough but the guys looked out for each other. He was teased a lot about his Cajun accent and after a while he decided that he'd better learn to pronounce English correctly.In addition to being trained as a rifleman, Gravois was trained as a signalman. He learned to use semaphore flags and after he was assigned to M Company he became instrument corporal. He used his semaphore flags 1 time but got shot at so he quit. He also worked as a runner and carried messages back and forth between the platoon leaders and company commanders.While Gravois was in boot camp his outfit went up to an Army fort in Santa Barbara [Annotator's Note: probably Camp Cook] to use the rifle range. This was in February of 1942. While they were there a Japanese submarine [Annotator's Note: the Japanese submarine I-17] surfaced off Santa Barbara and shelled some oil fields and oil tanks. Gravois' unit was put on the beach and spent 3 days manning machine guns in preparation for a Japanese invasion which never came. Even though it was only 1 submarine it caused a commotion all up and down the west coast. After this they went back to San Diego and finished boot camp. After boot camp he was sent to Camp Elliot {Annotator's Note: Camp Elliot, California] and that is where he joined M Company, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division.The 2nd Marine Regiment was organized at Camp Elliott. Gravois doesn't recall where the other components of the Division were at that time. The 2nd Marine Division never assembled as a complete unit until around October 1942. By that time Gravois had been on Guadalcanal for quite a while.Gravois went through the Panama Canal as part of a reinforced element of the 1st Marine Division which landed almost unopposed on Guadalcanal. His unit was part of the division reserve and was landed on Gavutu on 7 August [Annotator's Note: Gravois says 7 August 1942 but outfit actually landed on 8 August 1942] to bail out the paratroopers [Annotator's Note: 1st Marine Parachute Battalion] that were pinned down [Annotator's Note: 3 Battalion, 2nd Marines was landed on Gavutu as reinforcements, not to bail out the 1st Marine Parachute Battalion]. When they landed on Gavutu the parachute battalion was still down on the beach when Gravois' unit landed behind them. They then captured the islands of Gavutu and Tanambogo. The parachute battalion landed on the 6th and Gravois' unit landed on the 7th [Annotator's Note: Gravois is a day off. The 1st Marine Parachute Battalion landed on Gavutu on 7 August 1942 and the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment landed on 8 August 1942].Before going overseas Gravois' unit had undergone amphibious training. Once a week they would go aboard a transport at the Broadway Pier in San Diego and would be taken to La Jolla. They would make a complete amphibious landing with all of their gear and equipment then they would walk back to San Diego. They did this 5 or 6 times.On 1 July 1942 they shipped out for what they thought would be another practice run. It was 37 days before they saw land. When they got to the Fiji Islands they conducted an amphibious landing there. Then they took part in another landing on Tongatabu. They were being prepared for another landing but they didn't know where it was going to be. It was announced on 4 or 5 January [Annotator's Note: this date cannot be accurate] that they would be reinforcing the 1st Marine Division for the invasion of Guadalcanal in the British Solomon Islands. They were told that Guadalcanal was the closest the Japanese got to New Zealand and it was decided to try to stop them there.


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