• Philip C. Becker - May 26, 2003

My oldest brother Philip C. Becker made the landing at Tarawa. He was 18 years older than me. He died in 1963. I never heard many stories about his service except some bits and pieces. There's very little way to verify this but this is what I was told and recall.

He got tangled up in the cargo nets that went down to the landing craft. He had to go on the next boat. When he got to the beach he came up to the seawall and climbed over it and ran across a trail. We were looking at a map of the island when he told me this. He said, “Some damn Jap shot at me and I jumped into a foxhole. And there was another Marine having coffee. He asked me if I wanted some.” He said the there wasn't a full tree left standing after the Naval bombardment.

He told of sending the Navy souvenir hunters out and using them as bait for the Japanese snipers. He also mentioned being put on a detail to shovel up dead Japanese and put them in a burial pit. He wasn't wounded, but his nerves were frayed. I was only around 6 years old when he came home. I “popped” an empty potato chip bag behind him and our Dad had to pull him off me. I was a smart ass little kid.

His Marine Corps service record has the one line entry, “Participated in the invasion and occupation, Tarawa, Gilberts Islands.”

That's not the exact quote, I have the records packed up in preparation for a move. But is was a rather succinct remark. His military specialty was musician. He was discharged as a corporal. I also have a V-mail that he sent to our folks that said that he would be out of touch for awhile and for them not to worry. This was just before the invasion.

Prior to going to Tarawa, he spent over a year stationed on Samoa.

Pete Becker SSG USARNG (Ret)


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