You may never have heard of the Hansen brothers, but twins Paul and Leslie own the distinction of being the only twins to earn the Navy Cross. In fact, they fought side-by-side when they accomplished the feat.
On 26 December 1943, the First Marine Division poured onto the beaches of Cape Gloucester, New Britain. As the Marines worked their way into the jungle, the amtraks (amphibious tractors) of the 1st Amphibian Tractor Battalion ferried in their ammunition and equipment. One of the first amtraks ashore was commanded by 23-year-old Philadelphia native Sgt. Robert J. Oswald Jr., with Pfc. Paul Hansen at the wheel and Pfc. Leslie Hansen manning a machinegun (both 20, from Bergen, N.Y.).
When heavy fire from Japanese pillboxes halted the Marine assault force attempting to capture the island’s airport, Oswald’s crew volunteered to destroy the enemy position. The job of charging the pillbox was dangerous enough, but onboard were tons of fuzes and 37-mm shells. Scores of enemy soldiers would be firing at a slow-moving, unarmored amphibious tractor loaded with explosives. Continue reading “Twins earn Navy Cross in same battle”
Before the United States entered World War II Richard “Dick” Kelsey worked for Walt Disney, having been an art director for Bambi, Fantasia, Dumbo, and Pinocchio animated films. Here he is as a Marine captain (far left), creator of the relief map MacArthur studies prior to the Cape Gloucester operation. Among Kelsey’s many other credits, he later helped write Alice in Wonderland and was even part of the Disneyland design team. Continue reading “Disney artist at war”
While researching the Battle of Cape Gloucester, I came across this photo of the 7th Marine Regiment’s commanders in January 1944. Granted, any group of officers that includes Chesty Puller (second from the left) has an epic advantage over the enemy, but when you consider these officers’ service records, it really shows how stacked this unit was, and perhaps why the 7th Marines were called the “fightingest outfit in the world.”
One Marine officer enlisted during World War I and served as a drill instructor (Frisbie)… two fought in Nicaragua (Puller and Frisbie)… Frisbie also faced rebels in the Dominican Republic… Puller saw action in Hayti… Two were China Marines (Conoley and Puller)… Two would later serve in Korea (Puller and Buse), and Buse also served during Vietnam… Continue reading “The ‘Fightingest’ Skippers of the 7th Marines”
While pouring through old Marine Corps valor citations I came across instructions for Marine recruiters from 1880. It’s fascinating to see what duties a Marine performed 140 years ago versus today.
Instructions for Recruiting Officers of the US. Marine Corps, 1880
The marines are strictly infantry soldiers trained for service afloat. Their discipline, equipment, character, and esprit du corps being that of the soldier, they necessarily give to a Ship-of-War its military character. As sentinels,they watch over the magazines, store rooms, gangways, galleys, and all lights and fires required for the use of the ship; they guard all the public property and all prisoners of war, which at times may outnumber the crew; and at all times Continue reading “How to recruit a Marine in 1880”