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Mervosh was born in Pittsburgh on June 14th, 1923. He remembers dealing with the Great Depression. It taught him how to be frugal. At 18, he joined the Marine Corps, his first pay was twenty dollars. He could not believe it. He would usually send the money home. Mervosh had two younger brothers. When he was in high school he had the Marine Corps on his mind. The propaganda posters were attractive to him. After Pearl Harbor there was no doubt in his mind that he wanted to join the Marine Corps. He joined in September of 1942.Mervosh went through his training at Parris Island [Annotator's Note: South Carolina]. He has a great respect for the drill instructors at Parris Island because of the rigorous training they had to endure. From Parris Island, Mervosh went to Camp LeJeune [Annotator's Note: North Carolina]. At Camp LeJeune, he realized that he had a long way to go in terms of learning how to fight. Mervosh was always thankful for his training even though when he first started it was tough.

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Some of the units that formed on the east coast took the Panama canal to the west coast. When they got to San Diego that is where the Fourth Marine Division was formed. They became the first battalion of the 24th Marines [Annotator's Note: 24th Marine Regiment] of the Fourth Division. The training was repetitive and tough. It was all good for Mervosh because they learned how to fight and win battles. He believed that he was being overtrained.They were in a training routine and had done so many amphibious landings off of the west coast that when orders were issued they did not think much of it. One morning however they were told that they were going to the Marshall Islands which was Japanese mandated territory. They were the first outfit that went directly from the United States into battle. Every island that Mervosh and his men took was never recaptured.He was excited and nervous to land on Namur [Annotator's Note: Roi-Namur, during the Battle of Kwajalein in February 1944]. Mervosh was a machine gunner at the time. Mervosh's first encounter with a Japanese soldier occured on Namur. He was in a trench and looked over to see a Japanese soldier with a fixed bayonet. He shot the man thinking he was out of ammunition but when he checked the dead mans rifle there were three shots left. Mervosh thinks that he dishonored the Japanese code and should have fought the man, but in retrospect he is glad he shot him.Shortly after this the Marines blew up a hut that they thought housed the enemy, it turned out to be an ammunition dump as well. A marine tossed a couple of satchel charges into the building. Mervosh thought the entire island was going to sink after the explosion and a lot of his men were wounded but he was in one piece. The hole was deep enough that it quickly filled up with seawater.After the battle was over on Namur they were evaluated by their commanding officer who had about five minutes of positive things to say followed by an hour of what they did wrong. After the battle they went back to training.The landing at Namur was automatic to the men. They had done it so many times that everyone knew what job they had to do and how to do it.

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The Marines felt that they were good when it came to their training and their ability to fight. They landed on Namur on an LCVP [Annotator's Note: Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel]. When they landed on Namur they encountered some small arms fire and that was about it. It was not easy but they expected it to be tougher. It was good preparation for what was to come.Fighting the Japanese came easy to Mervosh because they were the ones who attacked the United States. Death to the Japanese was nothing and him and his men realized it very quickly. They were fanatical and suicidal. Mervosh experienced this in every battle in the Pacific. Winning the battle of Namur was a big morale booster for he and his men because the Japanese had held on to that island for over twenty five years.A lot of Mervosh's men called him combat crazy, but he considered himself combat oriented. He decided after Namur that they were going to train in misery so that when combat came around they were tough and hardened. After Namur they went to Maui, Hawaii and rested. Replacements came in and they resupplied. There was more training on Maui.Eventually they shipped out to sea again and this time they took a course for Saipan. Saipan took twenty five days to capture. Mervosh knew Saipan was going to be different because they received artillery fire while still in the boats.

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Fortunately the boat Mervosh was in did not get hit [Annotator's Note: during the invasion of Saipan in June 1944]. After they hit the beach they had to move in very quickly to make room on the beach. Within the first two hours their battalion commander was killed. It was a low blow to Mervosh but they kept on going because someone was going to replace them. Saipan was tough because the men did not have much drinkable water. Disease also took its toll on Saipan. They were warned of all the ills there; bugs, snakes, disease, flies and other harmful devices of nature took their toll on Saipan.After the island was secure, Mervosh caught a case of dysentery. He was convinced that his first hot meal caused his dysentery. His first hot meal since the landing was chili.One of the toughest moments on Saipan was towards the end of the battle when American interpreters were trying to convince the Japanese to surrender. The civilians on the island were brainwashed into thinking that the Americans were going to rape and kill them so they committed suicide. Men, women, and children would jump off cliffs to their deaths rather then be captured or occupied. It was one of the toughest things he saw.Mervosh recalls an incident where their company commander by the name of Captain Parks helped to save their lives. They occupied a position on Saipan and at night Parks told them they were moving out. They moved out to a position about 150 yards behind their original position. It was dark so they did not realize it at the time, but the Japanese launched an attack and brought artillery down on their original position. As the Japanese shelled the previously occupied position, they also began a banzai attack. Thinking that the artillery would put the Americans in disarray they attacked only to find the Americans a few hundred yards back, completely unaffected by the artillery and ready to fight.

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When Mervosh secured Saipan they stayed on the island for about eleven days. Then they got word that they were going to Tinian which was about two and a half miles away from Saipan. He had diarrhea but was able to shake it off before Tinian. The Fourth Marine Division landed on a beach that was sixty five yards wide. They ended up landing on a section of beach that had a lot of coral. It was one of the most successful landings in Marine Corps history. It was a big deal to take Tinian because of the airfield that put B-29's [Annotator's Note: American B-29 bombers] in range of mainland Japan.Mervosh liked Banzai charges because he was able to kill Japanese in the open. When he had to go through caves and bunkers it became harder.Because of the casualties that his unit was taking, Mervosh was able to move up the ranks very quickly from squad leader to section leader, and eventually to company commander.On Namur, Mervosh was a gunner, on Saipan and Tinian he was a squad leader. From there, he became a section leader. A lot of the fighting occured at dawn. The Japanese thought that was the best time to attack, yet most of the time that was when the Marines were most alert. The weather sometimes took a toll more so then the enemy. Tinian was similar to Saipan in terms of geography and the type of fight.

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Saipan was a bigger island then Tinian so it required a different kind of fight. After Tinian, Mervosh felt like a true combat veteran. After Tinian, they headed back to Maui, Hawaii for more training with the new replacements. It got to the point where the training was a routine.Mervosh had never heard of Iwo Jima. He was informed of its strategic importance because of its proximity to Japan. Iwo was going to allow the bombers to have fighter escorts for their bombing runs in Japan. He makes note that the battle on Iwo was the perfect battle. It was a defenders dream. With Mt. Suribachi overlooking what was essentially a moonscape, it provided excellent cover for the defenders and almost little cover for the attackers. There was also no civilian population on Iwo Jima. Collateral damage was not an issue, it was one of the purest battles in the sense of the word during all of World War II.Mervosh notes that on D+4 when the flag was raised over Mt. Suribachi, it did not signal the end of the battle, but rather the beginning of a series of battles that were made over many different objectives across the island. Mervosh makes note of the underground pillboxes and fortifications that were placed strategically across the island. The Japanese were given plenty of time to prepare. Mervosh is quick to remind people that the Marines took that island with very little armaments, in other words most marines had a rifle and some grenades and none of the fancy weapons of today.

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Landing on Iwo Jima was not much different to Mervosh and his men then some of their other amphibious landings. He was able to see all of the incoming gunfire on Iwo Jima as he was landing. It was a morale booster to see the island get hit hard, yet for the most part it did not do much. The naval and aerial barrage that preceded the invasion threw up dust, but other then that the Japanese did not take many casualties.The initial waves on Iwo Jima went in unmolested. As the reserve units landed on the beach, which Mervosh was a part of, the Japanese opened up.People to this day ask him whether or not he saw the flag raising ceremony on Iwo Jima. He did not see the flag raising because he was too busy fighting the Japanese on the northern side of Iwo Jima. At one point Mervosh pulled out his binoculars to take a look at Suribachi because he figured since they were not taking any artillery fire there was a good chance that Suribachi was taken. He usually kept his binoculars concealed because if the Japanese saw him using them he was considered a prime target. He was shot at while he was using the binoculars, but the Japanese who were shooting at him were poor marksmen.

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Mervosh kept his binoculars in his pack the rest of the battle and he is thankful that he did. About a week after the flag raising ceremony, he was hit in the back with a piece of shrapnel and it was the binoculars in the case that took the brunt of the impact and potentially saved his life.Mervosh remembers volcanic ash being everywhere, even to the point where it was embedded in their skin. The ash helped to absorb the concussive impact of artillery shells as well.He started his fighting at the Boat Basin on Iwo Jima. He felt like he was throwing hand grenades more then he was shooting his rifle.Mervosh was wounded at one point during the battle, while serving as Company Commander due to the loss of officers above him, and the corpsmen came over and told him that he was going to need to be evacuated. He told the corpsmen that he had soldiers to lead and that he was not going to be evacuated. The corpsmen put a "M" on his head and Mervosh wiped it off after the corpsmen left and he went back to leading his men.Mervosh remembers that resupplying was not an issue. They were not trained to take from the dead, yet that is what they resorted to. The men who were dead did not need their water or food or hand grenades. It was all fair game.

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The casualties were so great on Iwo Jima that privates would become leaders of platoons. Squad leaders would become platoon commanders and so forth. The chain of command was constantly being readjusted. On Iwo Jima it was all frontal assaults. It was hard to pull flanking movements and so forth.Mervosh landed on Blue Beach Two. The fortifications across Turkey Knob and the amphitheatre and some of the other named sections of the island were the same. The fighting was the same but each different area required different types of fighting and improvisation to take care of the enemy.Mervosh had a friend on Iwo named Sergeant Alfred Oksendahl. Oksendahl had been on Midway and told Mervosh on Iwo Jima that he had never seen anything like this before. Later that day as Oksendahl had just finished his foxhole, it took a direct hit from a Japanese shell. Mervosh noted that he could have picked up the remains with a shovel.Mervosh notes another time when he and three Marines were in a foxhole that took a direct hit. He received a piece of shrapnel in his eyelid. If his eye had been open he would have definitely lost the eye.

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After Mervosh helped his wounded friends in the foxhole he realized that he had lost his hearing. Eventually after a week his hearing came back.He still has bad dreams regarding his wartime experience. He sees it as normal however citing that everyone dreams. One of the dreams he has that pops up routinely is the memory of his rifle jamming.After Iwo Jima, Mervosh and his men went back to Maui, Hawaii to train for the eventual invasion of Japan. After two atomic bombs the war was over and the rest was history.Mervosh was with the Fourth Marine Division when it was activated and when the unit was deactivated. After World War II, he served for 30 more years. He was in over four different Marine Corps outfits. His specialty was killing the enemy. In Korea, Mervosh was with the 3rd (Third) Marines. Mervosh's brother was killed in Korea. It disturbed him at the time because he had people coming up to him and saying, " your brother would not have been killed if he had not had wanted to follow in your steps and become a Marine." This made Mervosh very upset.Korea was a different war compared to World War II in his mind. There was a lot of trench warfare that occured in Korea.In Vietnam Mervosh was with the 3rd battalion

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The Vietcong were a tough enemy because of their ability to conceal themselves and assimilate with civilian populations. The Americans won a lot of battles in Vietnam but they lost the war. Ho Chi Minh knew that if the morale of the US population was low, then he would win. Mervosh believes that one of the big reasons we lost Vietnam was because of the universities and the Jane Fondas that led to protests and lack of support for the troops.Mervosh was at a candy store when he heard about Pearl Harbor. There was a radio on in the store and he heard the radio bulletin. He went to the recruiting office on December 8th. There were lines for days. He was initially turned away and was convinced by his mother to finish his high school career and get a diploma.Mervosh believes that if we had lost World War II we would not have the United States today. He believes that because of the sacrifice of the Marines and the armed forces and because of the sacrifices that the average American made, people need to be incredibly grateful.

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Mervosh believes that it is very important to continue to study and learn about World War II so that future generations can learn about the greatest part of American history.

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