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Rosen gets shot in the leg wading ashore at Tarawa


Harold Rosen was born in Dallas, Texas in April 1925. His father owned his own business so the depression did not hit the Rosen family as hard as most other people in the country. He graduated high school by the time he was sixteen and was seventeen at the time war broke out. His parents had to sign off on him entering the Marine Corps. Rosen did not want to be drafted. He went to boot camp in San Diego, California. His first three weeks were in San Diego then his last three weeks were at Camp Matthews [Annotators Note: Camp Calvin B. Matthews in Lajolla, California]. Rosen spent three weeks on the rifle range with his M1 Garand at Camp Matthews. He ended up getting a carbine when he went overseas. Rosen went from the United States to Australia then to New Caledonia and New Zealand. He was put into a unit and realized he was in an antitank unit. After a little bit of training, Rosen found out he was the number four trail man. He learned how to pull the gun successfully. After he did his job well he went to the number three man. After that he became a loader and then a gun commander. Later on they learned they were going to invade an island. They did not know which island yet. Rosen was headed to Tarawa where he landed on the second or third day. He recalls having to wade inland on Tarawa. He was shot in the leg walking onto shore and was immediately put back into a Higgins boat. He could see Marines on the beach taking heavy fire. He recalls the naval bombardment that took place before the invasion and recalls ducking down in the Higgins boat. It was very bloody. Rosen considers himself lucky that he was not killed. He had about two to three hundred yards to cover before he got to the beach. They decided to not mess with getting the 37 mm antitank gun off of the landing craft because it would have been a loss in the water. He did not fire his carbine once. He was behind a wooden pier near Red Beach and he was scared to death. He had never even killed a rabbit. Rosen was taken to Hilo, Hawaii where he stayed for a few months. During that time they received a bunch of replacements. There were a couple of towns nearby that the men frequented.


Harold Rosen took part in a simulation that was supposed to help them get ready for their next invasion. He recalls getting the news that the Allies had landed in Normandy on 6 June 1944. On 15 June 1944 he and his unit hit Saipan. Rosen hit the island from a flanking position. Rosen saw a friend from high school during his training on Hawaii. He saw his friend’s unit go in on the left side of him. As soon as they established a beachhead and the units became mixed up they pushed inland. He heard from one of his friend’s buddies that the guy he went to high school with had been killed. It was a sad moment. Rosen got onto the beach alright. There was very little contact with the Japanese. He was with a squad of about 12 men and they were moving inland quickly. They got to Lake Susupe which is on the western side of the island. He looked around and realized that they were alone. The first night was uneventful for the most part. Rosen and the 8th Marines had the task of taking Mt. Tapotchau. The 4th Army was on their right flank. He hauled his 37 millimeter [Annotators Note: 37 millimeter antitank gun] up to the top of the mountain and their job was to look for Japanese tanks. They only saw a few and the ones they saw were not in range. Rosen hear about the suicides at Marpi point. He started Japanese language school. He did not finish but he picked up a little Japanese. He was the interpreter for his squad and on a couple occasion he used his linguistic ability to coax some Japanese out of caves. The caves were so well concealed that they could walk past them and not see them. The flamethrower was a very effective weapon. It was tough because towards the end, the caves were mainly occupied by civilians. Rosen was on a mountain on 5 July 1944. The Japanese were below them and started firing mortars. He was hit by one of the mortars and had severe shrapnel wounds. He was sent to a hospital at Pearl Harbor. In January of 1945 Rosen wanted to rejoin his unit as a lieutenant but he had shrapnel infection which required more medical attention. He was sent back to the United States to a hospital. It took two trail men and a couple pushers to get the 37 millimeter tank gun up the hill. It was a slight incline but the wheels on the gun made it a lot easier.


After Harold Rosen was wounded, he went back into action. The shrapnel was embedded and it allowed him to serve, but the tropical environment caused the wound to fester. He was wounded when he went in on Tinian. When Rosen was separated from his unit, his folks did not hear from him for a while. His uncle from Dallas was in the dress business. Through a friend of a friend, Rosen's family had an army sergeant come over and check on him. This family friend took care of Rosen by taking him to the PX [Annotators Note: Post Exchange] and loading him up with supplies. Rosen was wounded on a walkover mission to Tinian. There was very little combat involved in taking Tinian. The Japanese banzai attacked every night. Since they were up in the mountains, the severity of the banzai attacks was not what people were facing on the lower ground of Saipan. No Japanese got through his line. Rosen was the gun commander by that time. The responsibility of the gun commander could change based on the situation. He had no problem landing on Saipan. He took heavy fire as he approached the beach. The Japanese would let a few waves land and then really open up with the artillery. Rosen went to see his friend’s parents from high school right after the war to console them. Rosen is an active member of the 2nd Marine Division association. He feels that the Japanese were gutless and brutal and that they were sneaky, treacherous, and unholy. He still dislikes the Japanese to this day. Rosen was discharged in December of 1946. His father had his own business during the Great Depression and his mother was a homemaker. Rosen feels like the war made him a proud American. He wanted to go to serve his country. He was very anti Japanese. He wanted to do his part to help to destroy them because of what they did at Pearl Harbor. He wanted to be a Marine and nothing else. He understands that America had to fight the Japanese to avert what could have been a disaster for the entire war. He feels that Hitler was a monster that needed to be stopped. On the whole, he felt like the war was good but Russia came out stronger than it should have. Rosen believes the museum [Annotators Note: The National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana] is important because it enlightens the entire country. The museum is a reenactment of everything that is good in America.

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