Becomming a Marine Raider
Tulagi and Guadalcanal
New Georgia then going home
Robert Addison was born in Akron, Ohio in December 1922. Growing up he was very athletic and played many different sports in high school and at Overland College.They knew war was coming. There had been fighting over in Europe for a while. On his nineteenth birthday, 7 December 1941, he was at his house with some friends. His sister had gone to the movies and when she returned she told them that the movie had been interrupted and an announcement had been made that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. The next day he went down to the Marine recruiter. He was still recovering from appendicitis but the recruiter told him he could go anytime. His mother did not feel the same way and did not let him go into the Marines until 7 January 1945.Addison joined the Marine Corps because he wanted to be the best of the best. He took his boot camp training at Parris Island. Boot camp had been cut down from three months to six weeks. They took three weeks of drill and three weeks on the rifle range. Since there was no room for them on the rifle range at Parris Island 500 recruits including Addison were sent to the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia to fire on the rifle range there.The 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines had moved up to Quantico and had been renamed the Raider Battalion. It was a skeleton outfit and needed men so after boot camp Addison was interviewed for a place in the raiders.After being accepted into the Raiders Addison took intensive training at Quantico. He was then sent to demolition school. In the mean time the rest of the outfit had been sent to Samoa for several months of training. When it was time for them to go they picked up the men who were in Samoa and continued on to their big base at New Caledonia.Addison never met Edson [Annotators Note: US Marine Corps Major General Merritt Edson] personally but feels that he was a great leader.On Saturday mornings they would go on 25 mile hikes. During the hikes Edson was always with them. They were all in very good shape. Their boot training did not compare to their training with the Raider Battalion.
[Annotators Note: Robert Addison was a member of the US Marine Corps 1st Raider Battalion.]They went to New Caledonia on one ship. They had no escort. They stopped in Samoa to pick up the rest of their outfit then continued on to New Caledonia.They had trained in the Potomac aboard six old World War 1 destroyers that had been outfitted to carry a company of troops. Those six destroyers were assigned to their battalion. They went overseas on a transport but once they were there they operated off of the destroyers.They knew they were going somewhere but did not know where until they were aboard ship.Their first landing was on the island of Tulagi. They did not know what was ahead of them. There were caves on Tulagi where the Japanese hid during the day and came out at night to attack the Marines.During Addisons first action his squad leader and gunner had both been hit and his squad was down to five men from an original strength of eight.Addison had been trained as a mortar man but they were not able to use their mortars on Tulagi.They were on Tulagi for about three weeks when it was decided they were going to go to Guadalcanal. They went over to Guadalcanal on a ship called the Colhoun [Annotators Note: USS Colhoun, APD2]. No sooner had they gone ashore than the Colhoun was hit by a bomb and sunk.Addison though Guadalcanal was beautiful from afar but stunk because of all the vegetation.The first mission Addison went on was to destroy enemy artillery pieces at Tasimboko. They destroyed the artillery, an ammunition dump, and all the food and supplies they could not take back with them. They were excited to get out and carry out missions they had been training so hard to do. Combat is an experience that cannot be explained to people.After the Battle of Savo Island all of the ships took off and went back to New Caledonia with all of the Raiders supplies leaving them with nothing but Japanese rice. They ate rice once a day but never at noon because that is when the Japanese would fly over and bomb them.In the channel between Tulagi and Guadalcanal there are about 50 ships. They called the area Iron Bottom Sound. After the navy left with their supplies they felt marooned.
[Annotators Note: Robert Addison was a member of the US Marine Corps 1st Raider Battalion.]Edson [Annotators Note: US Marine Corps Major General Merritt Edson] had fought against the Japanese in China and he knew where they would be coming from. The ridge pointed right towards the airstrip and the Japanese were trying to retake that airstrip.The difference between the Japanese soldiers and the American Marines is that the Americans had been taught to think for themselves. If the Japanese had thought to probe the American lines they would have discovered that they had nothing on their left flank and could have surrounded them. They just kept hitting them head on. A similar event occured in Europe.Edson kept his men together that night [Annotators Note: Battle of Bloody Ridge also known as the Battle of Edsons Ridge]. On the ridge Addison was right by their artillery forward observer was located and he was able to hear Edson directing artillery all night. The Japanese kept launching banzai attacks on them. If the Japanese got through them they would have been able to retake the airstrip.Addison knocked out a Japanese machine gun position using his mortar. There were Japanese snipers in the jungle. Someone was hit and called for a corpsman. When the corpsman, Bobby Smith, ran past Addison a sniper killed him. The Japanese also had large hand grenades. Addison saw one land right by him but it rolled down the hill without exploding. The morning after the battle Addison must have fired 100 rounds of mortar ammunition.During the night Japanese ships shelled their positions on the ridge. The shells fired by the ships sounded different than shells fired by artillery.The Japanese had artillery pieces up in the hills. They called one of them Pistol Pete.The next morning they were relieved by the 5th Marine Regiment and went back to the coconut grove in the trucks that had brought the 5th Marines. Thee had been some parachutists [Annotators Note: 1st Marine Parachute Battalion] attached to them for the battle. Addison thought they did well. They had been one of the first units to experience a banzai attack. It did not surprise them. They expected it. The Japanese were good fighters.
[Annotators Note: Robert Addison was a member of the US Marine Corps 1st Raider Battalion.]After Bloody Ridge they went up the Matanikau. On 13 October the army came in. There were about 3000 soldiers replacing about 300 Marines. To Addison that was an even swap.The battle of Bloody Ridge kept the airstrip out of the hands of the Japanese. If the Japanese had taken the airstrip they would have been able to launch land based planes against Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia, and Samoa. By the time they left Guadalcanal Addison was a squad leader.On Kolombangara the Japanese had about 10000 troops. Had they known that there was only a battalion of Americans they would have wiped them out. The Marines played games with the Japanese to trick them.On New Georgia it rained all the time. During the dry season it rained every day at 4 o'clock. During the wet season it rained all day. They were always wet. It was hard for the men to operate like that but it did not affect the mortar tubes.Addison was a popular squad leader. He did not drink or smoke so when they got their cigarette and beer rations his men got his.Addisons last combat was New Georgia. After the fighting there he was sent back to the United States. When Addison got back to the United States he applied and was accepted into the navys V12 program. For his first semester he was sent to Denison down near Columbus, Ohio. After the first semester he was sent to Oberlin and that is where he was when the war ended. Addison was relieved to hear that the war was over. He heard the news on the radio while he was eating dinner one night. Addison knew that he would have been sent back to the Pacific to take part in the invasion of Japan. Addison got out of the Marines and returned to Oberlin as a civilian. After graduating he stayed and got his masters degree. Addison feels that it is important for kids today to study and learn about World War 2. Addison volunteers at his local high school. When the history class gets to talking about the war Addison goes there to talk about it. Addison was a shy kid when he went into the Marines but was not when he got out. Addison hopes that future generations will learn from what they went through.
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