Joining the Marines

Preparing for war

Fighting on Tulagi

Night battle on Tulagi


The Tasimboko Raid

Bloody Ridge

The Matanikau

Fighting the Japanese

Football and navy law


[Annotators Note: Interview begins with Frank Guidone and the interviewer talking about Guidone contracting malaria and about the action his company saw along the Lunga perimeter on the first night of the battle.] Frank Guidone joined the Marine Corps on 5 July 1940. He had grown up in a steel mill and coal mine town on the Ohio River. By the time he graduated high school there were no jobs to be had in the area. His father owned a tavern so he worked there tending bar for as while until one of his friends suggested that they join the navy. Guidone was ready to join any branch at that point. He took the papers he had gotten from the navy recruiter to his father. His father was furious but eventually broke down and signed them. He returned to the navy recruiter and gave him his paperwork. When the recruiter told him that they would see him in three weeks Guidone told him that he could not wait. He did not think he would even be able to get home that day. The navy recruiter told him to go down the hall and join the Marines and that is what he did. [Annotators Note: for several minutes Guidone and the interviewer talk about being from Ohio] Guidone has five brothers and five sisters living back in western Ohio. Guidone had joined the Marine Corps in 1940 and went to boot camp at PI [Annotators Note: Parris Island] after which he was sent to the radio school at Quantico. It did not take Guidone long to realize that he did not like radio school. He got transferred to out of radio school and eventually ended up joining the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines in Cuba. That is how he got his start with the Raiders. Guidone spent about six months with the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines getting all of his basic infantry training with rifles, BARs, and machine guns. They also trained to land in rubber boats and Higgins boats up and down the Atlantic Coast. When they went back to the United States the 1st Battalion went to Quantico while the rest of the division went to Camp Lejeune, called New Rivers at the time. Guidone liked training there because he could take liberty in Washington DC. Once the battalion was filled out they were assembled in the theater. Colonel Edson got up in front of them and told them that anyone who wanted to get out of the outfit could do so. That is where they became the 1st Raider Battalion.


[Annotators Note: Frank Guidone joined the US Marine Corps in July 1940. After boot camp he joined the 1st Raider Battalion.]Guidone maintains that they were no different than a regular infantry battalion. They did a lot of hikes and worked at sea with the APDs [Annotators Note: a high speed transport]. He does feel that they had the better Marines when it came to the NCOs and junior officers. When Edson formed the 1st Raider Battalion he could take any officer he wanted. The NCOs were all salty. Some of them were even Nicaragua veterans. They also trained in hand to hand fighting. In the present day the Marine Corps wants every Marine to be a black belt. Guidone does not recall much hand to hand fighting. Why fight hand to hand if they could just shoot the guy. The only time they got into it was at night. During the second Matanikau there was hand to hand fighting. One Marine beat a Japanese soldier to death with a machine gun barrel. Guidone saw a show on the History Channel about John Basilone which showed him fighting at night using a pistol. Guidone doubts that Basilone had a .45 pistol. They did not go around fighting at night. One night before the landings on New Georgia Guidone was out on a reconnaissance patrol. He had to get away from the camp for a moment and when he did he lost his way. He did not want to try to get back in the dark so he waited until daylight to make his way back. When Guidone was based at Quantico he would go home on the weekends. He thinks he was in the tavern downstairs at his parents’ home when he heard the news about Pearl Harbor being attacked. It was not a big thing for Guidone because he did not know how important it was. By the time they got back to Quantico the place was like a hornet’s nest. After the attack on Pearl Harbor they knew that the training was for real. They started getting news about the damage done and that spurred a lot of guy’s top action. They were finally loaded on a train to take them across the country. The train was blacked out at night. During the day they got off the train to exercise. Guidone does not recall what they ate on the train.


[Annotators Note: Frank Guidone joined the US Marine Corps in July 1940. After completing boot camp he joined the 1st Raider Battalion.]From the United States they went to Samoa. They did more training on Samoa. Samoa was much more like what they would face in combat. At this time the 2nd Battalion [Annotators Note: 2nd Raider Battalion] was being formed. From Samoa they went to New Caledonia. In New Caledonia they got down to business as far as conditioning. They did a lot of weapons firing as well. They fired their .03 rifles, BARs and machine guns. They did not have Garrands, Reisings, or M1 Carbines yet. The Reising was a terrible weapon. Guidone fired everything on New Caledonia. He even worked with the mortars and fired the .55 caliber Boys anti tank rifle which they were to use against boats. On the Makin Raid the 2nd Battalion guys shot them at enemy aircraft. It was a big and cumbersome weapon. The Boys required a crew of two. When they boarded ships to go into battle they had no idea where they were going. Guidone was impressed by the number of ships that were with them. At the time Guidone was a corporal and did not know what was going on but he thinks that the junior officers may have. They learned that they were going to Tulagi. They did not have any sand tables of the area. They did not know why the division was landing on Guadalcanal but they were landing on Tulagi. Tulagi was the administrative island for the Japanese in the area. Most of their troops were on Guadalcanal. Even so there were enough of them on Tulagi to give Guidone and the Raiders some trouble. The Japanese they faced were like Marines. The paratroopers [Annotators Note: 1st Marine Parachute Battalion] really caught hell on Gavutu and Tanambogo. They landed on a defended beach. The Raiders did not. The first day they were on Tulagi they moved up to the top of the ridge then dropped down a small slope using toggle ropes. Guidone did not know it at the time but two of his men had already been shot. They saw the Japanese out ahead of them so Guidone and his men ran behind a small shack. The Japanese could see them there. One of Guidone’s men was shot in the arm. They stayed there for the rest of the afternoon. Using the shack for concealment Guidone made his way back up to the top of the ridge. He was told to form a skirmish line which he did. When he saw Japanese troops approaching they started firing. That kept up all night. They threw a lot of grenades because rifle fire that night was not very effective. By the next morning there were 30 Japanese bodies piled up in front of their positions. That was the biggest battle Guidone was involved in. After that they made their way to the point of the island. There the Japanese were holed up in caves.


[Annotators Note: Frank Guidone joined the US Marine Corps in July 1940. After completing boot camp he joined the 1st Raider Battalion.]They were on Tulagi for two or three weeks before crossing over to Guadalcanal. After the fighting there was done they were ready to go home. After Tulagi was secured Edson [Annotators Note: US Marine Corps Major General Merritt A. Edson] went around to each company and talked to the men about how the battle of Tulagi was just the beginning of the fight for them and that they had a long way to go. Guidone took part in the Tasimboko raid. There was a lot of press surrounding the Makin Raid but not the one they went on. There were bigger names on the Makin raid like Carlson and the President’s son [Annotators Note: President Franklin Roosevelts oldest son James Roosevelt II was the executive commander of the 2nd Raider Battalion].The Tasimboko raid had an impact on the Battle of Bloody Ridge. The Japanese had also pulled troops back that were earmarked for New Guinea because of the Tasimboko raid. There was not much combat during the Tasimboko raid. When they landed the Japanese mistook the raid for an all out invasion and fled the area. The Raiders got a lot of good intelligence on the Tasimboko raid. Guidone does not think he or anyone in A Company even fired their rifles during the entire raid. They took what supplies back with them that they could and destroyed the rest. A lot of the raiders brought cans of food back with them in their shirts and packs.


[Annotators Note: Frank Guidone served in the US Marine Corps as a member of the 1st Marine Raider Battalion.]When they got back they were put on the ridge [Annotators Note: Bloody Ridge]. They had already strung barbed wire and cut their fire lanes. On the first day Edson wanted to send some patrols out. A platoon leader named Joe Bunton was tasked with leading the patrol. He took men from A Company and B Company and made a combined patrol. They went out looking for the Japanese. They started off down the trail and had not gone far before they could hear the Japanese. Their orders had been to only go until they made contact. At about that time the bombers came over. They were paying close attention to the ridge. The bombers and the enemy ships offshore fired on the ridge. All of the Raiders took cover. Guidone took cover among the roots of a banyan tree. They pulled back and made their way back to their positions. When they got there they saw that the bombs had destroyed their area. They recovered their stuff and took positions on the line. All night long they were on the ridge waiting for the Japanese to come to them. They could hear the yelling and screaming. They were all pretty jumpy. The next morning the Japanese commander pulled his men back and things calmed down. After the Japanese pulled back the Marines moved forward. They also reestablished their fire lanes. The next day C Company made a counterattack but ran into too much fire and had to pull back. Then A Company did the same thing and had to pull back. That was the end of the battle. They did not get hit the second night. On the other side were C Company and some engineers from a dog company. When they made the attack some of the guys ran into the swamp that was off to the right of the ridge and never came back out. One guy in C Company held the company together during the battle and was awarded the Navy Cross. The parachutists [Annotators Note: the guys of the 1st Marine Parachute Battalion] were on the left on the high ground. They were right in the way of the Japanese advance. The only way the Japanese could go was right up through B Company. B Company held them off.


[Annotators Note: Frank Guidone served in the US Marine Corps as a member of the 1st Marine Raider Battalion.]Guidone saw the picture Letters from Iwo. He has thought about what the Japanese soldiers went through. He can only image what they went through when they launched the Bloody Ridge battle with all of the firing they endured. After the Japanese soldiers came off the ridge they had to go west. They had no food and no weapons. There were a lot of Japanese troops west of the Matanikau but they were not able to get them into the fight. Bad timing, the weather, the terrain played a big part in the Japanese defeat. Overwhelming firepower on the side of the Marines was also a major contributing factor. The Japanese were never able to overwhelm the Marines. At the Tenaru River Japanese Colonel Ichiki believed that no one could beat his force. He did not want to wait for another battalion to come in and launched his attack across the river. He ran his men right into a machine gun company supported by 37 millimeter anti tank guns firing canister shot which stopped the attack cold. The movie Letters from Iwo does a good job of showing what the Japanese soldiers faced. To Guidone they were all alike. They all had families at home. When they were moving up during the second battle of the Matanikau they told they were being put in reserve. This was about 6 October [Annotators Note: 6 October 1942]. They heard rumors that ships were coming in bringing the army in and they thought that they would be going out on them. The paratroopers had already left so that was good news for them as they had been in as much combat. One guy in the mortar squad learned that his wife had given birth so he passed out cigars to all the men. He was killed not long after that. Guidone believes that the Japanese experienced the same situations. During the first battle of the Matanikau things were screwed up. The Matanikau was the boundary. At the time Edson was the CO of the 5th Marines. Sam Griffiths had the battalion and Major Bailey was his exec.The were to cross the Matanikau on a wooden bridge the Japanese had built and Puller [Annotators Note: US Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Lewis B. Puller also known as Chesty] was supposed the come in from the other side with another regiment. When they got to the bridge they did not halt the battalion. When the lead element, which included Bailey, crossed the bridge and approached the point [Annotators Note: Point Cruz] a Japanese machine gun opened up and killed Bailey. The battalion pulled back. Griffiths was hit and wounded as well. Puller attacked and continued to attack and was angry that Guidones battalion did not join him. Edson caught some flak because of that. It just was not a good plan. There are not many men left who can talk about the ridge battle. Sweeney was in the thick of it. When the company commander got sick John Sweeney took over the company. Major Bailey was there too. He was spending much of his time ordering Raiders back onto the ridge that had run off of it. Sweeney may have been doing the same thing.


[Annotators Note: Frank Guidone served in the US Marine Corps as a member of the 1st Marine Raider Battalion.] While they were in a coconut grove they got word that there was heavy fighting going on at the Matanikau and that the Japanese had crossed over onto their east side of the river. By now Col. Edson was no longer a Raider. He was the CO of the 5th Marine Regiment. There were two battalions of the 5th Marines fighting up there. The Raiders were sent up. The Raiders and the 5th Marines had their positions dug in parallel to the river. In between them was a pocket of Japanese, about 200 of them, who had gotten onto their side of the river. It was decided that the Marines would wait until the following morning to take care of them. Guidone had his squad set up near the mouth of the river. They were more facing the seaward than inland. There was a gap between his platoon and the rest of the battalion so the decision was made to put mortar men from A Company in there to fill in the gap. The mortar men were only armed with pistols. They were not using their mortars. While the mortar men were getting into their positions the Japanese launched a banzai attack and killed 12 of the mortar men. They got through the mortar men and got up behind Guidones positions. When they got to the beach area they got hung up in the barbed wire that the Marines had put up. Guidone clearly recalls seeing Japanese soldiers hung up in the wire being shot to pieces by the Marines machine guns. The next day Guidone went on a patrol and saw the bodies of the dead mortar men. It was the biggest defeat they had suffered. It had only taken 30 minutes. After the shooting stopped there was moaning all night long. Two or three of the guys who were killed were good friends of Guidone. Guidone believes that they should never have been in that position. Edson or Walt always thought that the Raiders belonged to them. They were responsible for calling the Raiders up there. They had units of the 5th Marines that they could have called instead. The Raiders were not at full strength at the time. One time on Guadalcanal Guidone was assigned to a tent that was already full so he had to sleep on the ground. During the night he felt something on his leg and when he turned his flashlight on he saw that it was a big rat. He jumped up on the table. When his captain came in and asked why he was up there Guidone replied that he had been put in there by another officer. His captain got this straightened out. Guidone blamed those two guys.


[Annotators Note: Frank Guidone served in the US Marine Corps as a member of the 1st Marine Raider Battalion.]When Guidone and the Raiders left Guadalcanal they went to New Caledonia and then to New Zealand. From New Zealand they went back to New Caledonia and from there on to New Georgia.The last battle they fought they lost. That was the battle of Bairoku. When they went to Bairoku they [Annotators Note: the Japanese] were waiting for them. They did not get any air support and the Army units that were attached failed to use their heavy 81 millimeter mortars even though the Japanese forces were within their range. Bairoku was the last battle Guidone took part in. Other guys that he served in the Raiders with also fought on Tarawa, Saipan, Iwo, and Okinawa. Many of those Raiders were killed in those battles. One of the guys in Guidones squad, Spirocino [Annotators Note: unsure of spelling], was in Guidones squad back at Quantico. During the fighting in New Georgia Guidone was commissioned and transferred out of A Company. Still Guidone and Spirocino would run into each other. Guidone still talks to Spirocino. One day he asked him what he had done after New Georgia. Spirocino told him that he had fought on Iwo after that. After New Georgia he had gone into a Division. Guidone returned to the United States on the same boat Sweeney was on. Sweeney had done the same thing. Sweeney had gone to Vietnam. Lou Walt was a corps commander in Vietnam. He was a four star general and was an assistant to the commandant. Guidone went a long way with Walt. When they were on Guam with the 1st Provisional Brigade Guidone was a Tech Sergeant and was the chief clerk in the G1 office for General Craig. Word was passed that they were going to have a football game. Guidone tried out and made first team running half back. They had a field on Guam. Lou Walt left Guam before Guidone. Walt was a great football player at Colorado State. Guidone got his orders and went to Camp Pendleton. Guidone was a 2nd Lieutenant at the time. This was the second time he had been commissioned. He was called in to see the colonel who told him that he was being assigned to the 1st Marine Division on temporary duty to the football team. Lou Walt had come through before and had talked to the assistant coach to grab Guidone when he came through. Guidone went out for the team. One of the guys on the first team later played for the Washington Redskins. Another guy on that team was Gene Hackman. Guidone stayed with the team until he got hurt. Guidone wrote down much of what he experienced. More so for his family than himself. When Guidone was a lieutenant at Camp Pendleton he used to get assigned to court martials as the defense council. He did a pretty good job with two or three of them. He got to know navy law. One day he was told that he would be representing a guy in a general court martial. [Annotators Note: the interview abruptly ends in the middle of the story Guidone is telling about an enlisted Marine requesting him as his defense council in a general court martial.]

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