John Ferguson, Chairman
M FERGUSON ----1/B
My father was
a Sargent in the 2nd Army division during WW1.
This was the same army division that the 5th Marines were attached to at
the Battle of Bellou Woods. A Marine General commanded the Division. My father was attached to the 5th Regiment during
I only bring this out as
background as to why my father was completely opposed to my getting into the
Marines even if I had been 21.
So I had to, like many of you, use subterfuge. I paid a drunken logger to act as my father and sign papers
in front of a Notary Public stating I was of legal age.
To take one step farther
back, I quit school several years before that, and had ended up as a welder in a
shipyard and as a professional fighter. I
was also a sparing partner to Lou Nova, the Argentine who was training to fight
Joe Lewis for the worlds Heavy weight championship.
So at 62 and 203 lbs. I was in very good condition when I arrived
in Boot camp in San Diego.
Upon completion of Boot Camp
they were asking for volunteers for the Raider Battalions.
Col. Carlson and a Major Antonelle interviewed me and I was accepted.
I trained at San Onifry Canyon on North side of Camp Endelton and at Camp
I shipped out of San Diego on the H.M.S. Welterhaven and after 18
days-arrived in New Caledonia. I was then placed in the first squad 3rd
platoon Baker Company ,1st Marine Raider Battalion.
By this time my father had received my going overseas card that all of us
had to fill out and sign. The Marines offered my father that they would bring me
back if he wished, but he declined saying I had made my bed and now would have
to sleep in it.
The 3rd Platoon Lt. Took one look at me and made sure I was
issued a B.A.R., which I still carry parts of it in my right arm and hand.
Being a very conservative Republican, one
of my fondest memories was around Christmas on New Caledonia, when Mrs.
Roosevelt along with a USO show gave a performance at the 1St Marine Raider
camp. The USO part went off without
a hitch until it got toward the end of the show.
A few Raiders had borrowed a
army tank and had driven it up on the Hill overlooking the camp.
They cut loose with a few rounds fired over every ones head and
brought the show to a screeching halt and of course the first lady was whisked
away in a hurry. To my knowledge no one could ever prove who had been
responsible, but the whole Battalion suffered for a few days.
It was shortly after that incident that the
Battalion was shipped back up to the canal were our base was located.
Then followed the Emirau operation And preparations for the Marianas
As our Amphibious tractor crawled up on the
beach on Guam , it suffered a direct hit from a artillery shell, or hit a large
mine. I never knew which. The effects were the same, devastating.
Much later, part of my squad
were trying to get some Japs that we had seen from a distance enter this gully .
The gully had 6ft. elephant grass that cut visibility to near zero.
It was here that I got clobbered with three hand grenades, and
ended my war.
I guess I looked like I was dead
because they cut my dog tags off and reported me killed in action.
Marine Corps never got the word that I was alive and had been sent down
to Navy Hospital in the New Hebrides.
After my folks were awarded my Purple
Heart Posthumously, gotten the GI insurance papers and received all kinds of
letters of regret from the Commandant of
the Marine Corps, Governor of
Oregon, District Naval Chaplain etc., it came to some ones attention that
they had a Marine at the San Diego Navel
Hospital that was trying to get paid. Was
it because he had not collected for months and had run out of
credit from borrowing from friends? So the Marines got word. The Marine
Commandant, the District Chaplin, The Governor Of Oregon, and all the rest
agreed that I was alive and should be paid.
The Purple Heart that my folks
had was returned to the Marines and the Marines arranged, along with a bunch of
other Marines, for a formal ceremony
to be held to award various medals.
A four striper from the Navy did the Honors and allowed me to rejoin the
ranks of the living and more importantly, be put back on the payroll so that I
could get my back pay.
I was Discharged from the Marines at the Marine Corp Recruit Depot in San Diego, with a 80 percent Disability rating that was later raised to 100%. And four years ago they added a housebound category. That category allowed the V.A. to partially remodel my house so I could get around better