On 8 August 1942, the American public, starved for good war news for two months, read in their morning papers that on 7 August 1942, United States Marines landed on Guadalcanal and Tulagi, islands in the South Pacific of which few had ever heard. For the next year, hardly a day passed when Guadalcanal was not in the news.
On 9 August 2016, Sandra and I attended the “74th Anniversary of the Battle for Guadalcanal” at the Marines’ Memorial Club in San Francisco. In an audience of several hundred, only three – including yours truly – were veterans of the bloody six-month campaign—all of us now in our early nineties. Colonel Christopher Starling, USMC (Ret.), the new Director of Military & Veterans Affairs for the Marines Memorial Association, acknowledged us in his opening remarks and we were honored with a standing ovation. The guest speaker was Chief Johnny JonGordon, USN (Ret.). Chief Johnny had served on the USS San Francisco (CA-38) and is a survivor of both Pearl Harbor and Guadalcanal. Thanks to his efforts, the bell from the San Francisco is on proud display in its namesake city in the Club’s lobby. The second veteran was William Davidson, a Gunner with the Second Marine Division. I was the third veteran and seated next to Michael Madland. Michael’s father was a Corpsman on Guadalcanal with the First Marine Division. Michael donated his father’s .30cal M1 Carbine to the Club.
The Marines’ Memorial Club goes out of its way to honor veterans, and I urge anyone in any branch of the service who is on active duty or a veteran to look into a membership. -Bill McGee