Hey Bill, would you care to tell how your Dad got his Purple Heart, I'd love to know?
My father said he just "mopped up" on Saipan until I was 40, then it all came gushing out: he was in the Second Wave, and fought all the way across the island. It was pretty bad, and he wouldn't talk specifics, but had the usual trove of "souvenirs," including a pistol and an officer's sword. You can figure out how he got them. Said watching women throw their kids from cliffs into the sea, then jump in after them was horrific and still upset him.
After about a month of fighting, his platoon came out of the underbrush onto a ridge line; across a ravine was a Japanese sniper pulling off rounds. My dad says they saw the bullets kicking up the soil around them, but he said he just didn't seem to take it seriously until one of them slammed into his leg in the calf. He left his "stash" with a buddy whom he never saw again. The only thing I have from then is a flag signed with all sorts of Japanese soldiers' names.
The docs wanted to amputate his leg, but he begged them not to. Eventually it healed, however his war was over. After he recovered, he went to OCS (officer candidate school) and was preparing for Operation Olympic (the invasion of Japan) when the war ended. The Marines estimated that platoon commanders would be killed or wounded at a high rate, so each platoon would go in with a "spare" Louie. That was my dad.
Every August when the hand-wringing over the US dropping the atomic bombs begins, I think about the fact I would not have been even a gleam in my father's eye without those bombs. Thousands of Japanese lived as well. Forgive the editorializing, but the Bomb is very personal for me.
Here's to you, Lt. Col. William E. Cross, Jr. (retired after 27 years and three wars). Your ashes are in Arlington, but I hope your spirit has found peace somewhere else. Love you, Dad.
Thanks, guys, for the chance to give him a shout-out. My wife's dad was a gunner/navigator in a USMC Dauntless Dive Bomber, so we're double Marine descendents in our house. Thumbs up for Lance Corporal John P. DiNardo.
- Lee White, Bill_S, didiumus and 7 others like this