From New Orleans to Guadalcanal

Combat, Training, then Back to Combat



Rivers Richardson King was born in October 1920 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Great Depression effected his family negatively. His father lost his job in the automobile business. His family moved frequently, before settling in Covington and that is where he grew up. He attended Covington High School, Lyon High School and finally graduated from Fortier High School in New Orleans. He was able to go to Tulane University [Annotator's Note: New Orleans, Louisiana] through a scholarship but ended up failing out, so he enlisted in the Marine Corps on 7 September 1939 at the Customs House off of Canal Street [Annotator's Note: New Orleans, Louisiana]. He was interested in aviation because reading about the pilots in World War 1. He was sent to basic training in San Diego, California, and then was assigned to attend sea school. Upon completion of sea school, he was assigned to the USS Maryland (BB-46) as the captain's orderly for 20 months. [Annotator's Note: The interviewer stops interview because the interviewee had to cough.] King adjusted to military life easily. He was aware of the war in Europe while being a Marine. King as at Camp Elliott in California when he heard about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor [Annotator's Note: Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on 7 Decemebr 1941]. He heard it over the radio. He was ordered to go to San Diego [Annotator's Note: San Diego, California] to defend the beaches and was based in a fire station. Prior to Pearl Harbor and while defending the beaches he as part of Company C, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment. He was then pulled out of the 2nd Marines and assigned to Q Company, Fleet Marine Force and was sent overseas. King says they then became part of the 21st Marine Provisional Company. His mission was to run barbed wire in the surf of Palmyra [Annotator's Note: Palmyra Atoll, Northern Line Islands], and he got the worst sunburn. He was there for nine months then flew back to Hawaii where he was transferred to a dive bomber squadron because he wanted to get experience flying. He was assigned as a radioman and gunner, and then he was accepted to pilot school and discharged from the Marines to become an aviation cadet in the Navy. He requested to be assigned to VMSB-233 [Annotator's Note: Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 233 (VMSB-233)] and went to Guadalcanal [Annotator's Note: Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands].


Rivers Richardson King was assigned to Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 233 (VMSB-233) and headed to Guadalcanal [Annotator's Note: Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands]. He recalled being bombed by Japanese aircraft during the day and night. He remembered one time when a Japanese Betty [Annotator's Note: Mitsubishi G4M medium bomber, known to the Allies as the Betty] flew over Henderson airfield and bombed a number of B-17s [Annotator's Note: Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomber] and B-24s [Annotator's Note: Boeing B-24 Liberator heavy bomber]. King remembered how he was fed Spam, powdered eggs, and Vienna sausages all the time and he got sick of it. When he was training to fly, he trained in enemy territory. On 6 April 1943, he took off and something went wrong before they could clear the runway. He crashed and had to ditch the airplane. His pilot was seriously injured. After Guadalcanal, King was sent back to the United States to go to pilot school. It took him almost 30 days to get home. He was discharged from the Marine Corp then went into the V-5 program [Annotator’s Note: V-5 US Navy Aviation Cadet Program, 1939 to 1943] with the Navy. He started at California Polytech [Annotator's Note: California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California] and then went to Safford, Arizona for basic training. After he graduated, he went to St. Mary's College in San Francisco [Annotator's Note: San Francisco, California] for pre-flight school, and then to the Naval Air Station at Livermore, California and flew 100 hours before the Navy told him he was not ready. King decided to go back to the Marine Corp in the fall 1944. He went back overseas and was assigned to a B-25 [Annotator's Note: North American B-25 Mitchell medium bomber] unit on Emirau Island [Annotator's Note: Emirau Island, Papua New Guinea] and flew a few missions. They also bombed Rabaul, New Britain several times. He thought the B-25 was the most versatile airplane in World War 2. He was transferred to Malabang, Mindanao [Annotator's Note: Malabang, Mindanao, Philippines] to prepare for the invasion of the Japanese mainland, but the war ended. King was happy when the war ended. He was transferred from the Philippines back to Hawaii then transported Marines back home from Japan and China.


Rivers Richardson King thought the SBD [Annotator's Note: Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bomber] dive bomber was very reliable and sank more ships than any other aircraft. King would go back and fight a war if the country asked him too. He was proud to serve during World War 2. In October 1945, he flew over Nagasaki, Japan and saw the damage from the atomic bomb. He thinks that the atomic bomb was not necessary because the Japanese surrendered prior to the dropping of the bombs. King believes its important for kids to be educated about World War 2. He also recalled how everyone participated in the war effort.

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