Elbert Munson, now 97, served his country as a sergeant in the US Marine Corps from 1942 to 1946 during World War II.
He grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, and helped with the family store until he was drafted at age 18. “June 12, 1942…my daddy took me to the station with my mother and six brothers and sisters…..it was very emotional but I didn’t want my siblings to see their oldest brother cry,” he remembered. Sergeant Munson did his basic training at Parris Island, then underwent further training.
He landed along with US forces on the island of Saipan on June 15, 1944. “Jesus, was it hot…humid…mosquitoes at night…had to be careful at night though, if a mosquito was gnawing on you, you couldn’t make any quick movements…give your goddamn position away to [enemy] snipers” he recalled. “We needed to take that goddamn island…it was around 1,500 miles from Tokyo…we had to send ships back to Hawaii over 4,000 miles away to get supplies.
“I was on cave patrol…we’d heard what the [enemy] did to the civilians there…raped women and children…beheaded the men…I came across a 12-year-old girl hiding in a cave…scared to death, was shaking terribly…she’d been raped by 10 [enemy] soldiers…there was blood…I got our medic to take care of her…never forget that sight for as long as I live.”
Asked if there was any entertainment he said, “Nah, not too much…we got to listen to that (unprintable) Tokyo Rose…telling us how bad we were doing and to surrender right away…told my guys never let her get to you…all goddamn [enemy] propaganda.”
As for the holidays, “Well, they were tough but you really didn’t think about it…couldn’t think about it…you never wanted to let your mind wander…would get you killed…missed my family a great deal,” he said.
Sergeant Munson was awarded the Purple Heart but dismissed it as quickly as it was brought up. “Too many guys didn’t come back…had several that were under my command…so goddamn tough when you have to write a letter to a young boy’s parents telling them their son is never coming home…I wrote every letter,” he said.
He lives alone in Mashpee but is checked on regularly by family and friends.
Sergeant Elbert Munson, thank you for your service to our great country.
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