1942: The Jungle

Austin Fox, guest writer


            The waves keep throwing salty water over the sides of the amphibious vehicle that I will shortly be jumping out of. The anxiety and stress are thick enough to cut with my bayonet. I look around to see the terror in everyone’s eyes, but we all know we have to act tough because we are marines now. “Semper fedelis” or “Semper Fi,” for short, is our motto. It means “always faithful.”

            The year is 1942. Charles, who is my best friend, and I are on our way to Guadalcanal to secure the island with the rest of our marine battalion. We are apart of the 2nd marine battalion in the United States military.

            When the Japs bombed us at Pearl Harbor, they thought we would give up easily. They sparked a revolution of war and patriotism back home in the U.S. So like any good, American man, I signed up for the military. Also, just like any good friend would do, I convinced Charles to join me on this escapade.

            I almost wish I could go back in time. Back to the days when Charles and I were out riding the waves on our boards, but now we are riding the waves in an LVT [landing vehicle tracked]. Being from Monterey, California he and I would often go surfing after school.

            “Hey Scotty Boy, let’s go surfing!” he would often yell through the hall as I walked out of my last class.

            Why my parents named me “Scott” I will never understand. The name Scott refers to someone who is from Scotland; throughout my family tree there is not a single drop of Scottish blood to be found. My ancestors come from Great Britain, Ireland, Germany, and France, but because of Charles continually calling me “Scotty Boy” people think I am Scottish. I guess I will just have to live with it.

            Now none of that really matters because Charles and I are on our way to some Jap infested island, in the middle of the Pacific. The island of Guadalcanal is apart of the Solomon Islands and is one of its larger islands. Our main tasks are to secure the airfield, push the Japs off the island, and to retain control of it. If we gain control of the airfield, then our airmen will have the range to attack and bomb other islands that are controlled by the Japanese.

            The rocking of our LVT calms me as we get closer to Guadalcanal, but I can tell Charles isn’t comforted at all. I notice that Charles keeps looking at me in a nervous fashion, but acting like nothing is wrong.

            “Scott, why are you staring at me?”

            “I’m not. You are staring at me.”

            “Only because you were staring at me first. Hey, it looks like we are almost to the beach.”

            I notice that we are about a minute or so away from the beach. One minute . . . forty-five seconds . . . thirty seconds . . . twenty . . . ten . . . We get closer and closer, and all the time we are expecting to be shot at. Not a single piece of hot lead flies our way. As our LVT hits the sand the gate drops and we all rush out at once. There is only sand, bushes, and trees to greet our landing. There is no resistance. Not a single Jap.

            “Where is our greeting party? I was expecting a huge welcome with rice and saké. Where is my saké?” Sgt. Polanski said sarcastically. Well, what are you guys waiting for, an invitation? Let’s keep moving!



            We spread out and start moving through the jungle to the airfield. We walk in silence for close to an hour when all of a sudden crack! A branch, next to Sarge’s head, explodes and we all rush to find cover.

            “Sniper! Take cover! Does anybody have eyes on him?”

            “Sarge, he’s in that tree.”

            “Scotty, can you see him from where you are?”

            “Yes, Sir, I can.”

            I aim my rifle at the tree. I take a deep breath in, then out while I gently squeeze the trigger. Crack! I watch as the Jap falls out of the tree onto the ground below. That’s my first kill. I almost feel sick to my stomach.

            We all get up and continue moving on our way, but I walk over to see the man I had just shot. Seeing his lifeless body disturbed me. Knowing that I took a human life bothered me, but it’s a job I have to do. This is war and people die in war. He was about eighteen years old, and he was a very small man, with black hair.




            The flies, gnats, and mosquitos are bothersome. As we trek through the jungle, I swat to persuade them to leave me alone. I swat at them to no avail. These suckers are everywhere! It’s tough not to breathe them in.

            “Get down! Japs!”

             A swarm of bullets flies our way. Bullets landing everywhere. Over our head, into the ground in front of us, into trees, and into our guys. I hit the dirt and pull Charles with me. We ready our rifles and fire back. The Japs are in bushes, and we can’t really see their bodies. All we see are muzzle flashes. They flash like cameras, but these aren’t cameras you want your picture taken by. Get your picture taken by one and you are sure to have your obituary in next Sunday’s paper.



             We are preparing to make our move on the airfield. We named it “Henderson Airfield after Major Lofton Henderson” (Sears). We named it after a Marine pilot who was killed during the Battle of Midway.

            It’s nearing night, so I pull out the letter from my girlfriend, Sharon, so I can read it one last time before tomorrow morning.

            “Dear Scotty,

How is the war? How are you holding up? You surviving? I hope you haven’t gotten shot yet. Your parents are doing quite alright, but they are worried sick about you and Charles. They invite me over every Saturday afternoon for lunch.

            Some merchant ships were sunk two weeks ago, by German U-boats, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Can you believe it? I can’t believe the Nazis would sink civilian vessels like that. It baffles me.

            Also the WAVES was started. It stands for Women Accepted Volunteer Emergency Service. It allows women to be apart of the United States Naval Reserve. It allows for women to relieve the officers and men so they can go on duty.

            Walt Disney came out with a new movie, it’s called Bambi. It’s an animated film about a fawn. I really want to see it, but I don’t know if I will have time.

            I really do miss you. Please just make it home alive and in one piece . . .”

            “Scott, Wilson, Wilber, Marshal, and David on me. Follow me. Something big is about to go down . . . oh, and congrats boys, you five have been promoted. An arty shell took out some officers. How many? I don’t know.”

            The five of us follow Captain, formerly known as Sarge. As we follow him, he turns around and hands us our new rank pins.

            “Don’t bother putting them on. The Japs will just take you out first if you do,” he says this as he winks and smiles at us.

            He takes us to a table that has a large map on it. There are already other officers there waiting for us. Captain Polanski then hands us papers that have our assigned squads on them. He then proceeds to point at the map while telling us the plans, of our attack on the airfield.

            “That’s it for tonight boys. Go get some sleep before our big day tomorrow.”

            Sleep? How can I sleep knowing that I am going to have to be a leader in the morning? One bad order and I can get my men killed. My men! That phrase echoes in my mind. Early I was one of them, and now I have to lead them.

            All of a sudden there is a bright flash and it came from the water. It was one of our ships and it looks like it is firing at something. It’s firing at a Japanese cruiser or battleship! The bright flash of the cannons firing back and forth, at each other lights up the whole beach. It reminds me of fireworks, but ten times more deadly. We all sit and hope our guys when this fight, because it might ease our minds about tomorrow.


            Explosions are going off everywhere. Tracers fly past our heads non-stop. Our planes are in the skies making passes on the airfield. I can hear the yelling and screaming of both Japs and marines all around. The explosions continue to shake the earth. Japanese anti-aircraft cannons fire rapidly from the airbase. The Japs are frantically trying to shoot down our planes.

            Our task; take the airbase at all cost. I organize my men and map out where we should move for the best cover.

            “You ready guys?”

            “Yes, Sir!”

            “You ready Charles?”

            “As ready as I will ever be” he says while giving a half hearted smile.

            Kathewt crack! The sound haunts the air as I look over in time to see Charles takes a bullet through the right shoulder, and crumples to the ground.


Works Cited

            Sears, David. “Going Long: Evans Carlson’s 2nd Marine Raider Battalion came to Guadalcanal for guard duty until events propelled them onto a legendary and vicious march.” World War II Sept.-Oct. 2016: 52. General OneFile. Web. 27 Apr. 2017.