In 1940, native West Texan Roy H. Elrod joined the Marine Corps. A few years later his unit, the 8th Marine Regiment, went into the fight at Guadalcanal, where he commanded a platoon of 37 mm gunners. They endured Japanese attacks, malarial tropical weather, and starvation rations. His combat leadership earned him a Silver Star and a battlefield promotion.
On D-Day at Tarawa his platoon waded their 37 mm cannons ashore, each weighing nearly 1,000 pounds, through half a mile of bullet-laced surf to get to an island where the killing never stopped. His was the only platoon to get its guns ashore and into action that first day. At Saipan, Elrod commanded a platoon of 75 mm halftracks, but he was riddled with shrapnel from an enemy artillery shell that took him out of the war.
Fred H. Allison interviewed Elrod, drew upon wartime letters home, and provided annotations to the narrative of this young Marine infantry officer, a job that had an extremely low survival potential.
“This compares favorably to E. B. Sledge’s With the Old Breed. What a terrific account of the combat on Tarawa!”—Ronald E. Marcello, author of Small Town America in World War II