Jack Marshall was twenty when he joined the Navy in 1943, serving two and a half years with the all-volunteer motor torpedo boat service. After patrols with Squadrons 3, 2, and 10 in the Solomon Islands and New Guinea, he returned to Melville, Rhode Island as a gunnery instructor. He was discharged the day after Thanksgiving, 1945, a day he refers to as “most appropriate.”
His first duty station was the island of Tulagi across Iron Bottom Sound from Guadalcanal. Patrols began at sundown lasting until dawn. Most targets were barges loaded with men and equipment. The Japanese fleet had abandoned Guadalcanal after suffering heavy losses in 1942 and early ‘43, but continued ferrying troops in at night by barge, destroyer, and submarines. Sinking those barges meant fewer Allied casualties in the campaign up the Solomon Slot.
Jack makes me laugh when he talks about the green tracer bullets, and shore batteries firing at him. He refers to the “pucker factor.” One tends to pucker when a bullet zips past your noodle. Cousin Jack has always had a warped sense of humor, but he’s very intelligent and a funny individual.
From Tulagi they sailed northeast to Rendova Island. Rendova with its black sand beaches was a major base for PT boats in the South Pacific. This is part of the New Georgia Islands which lies in the middle of the Solomon chain. More night patrols, more sea battles as a .50 caliber gunner, and the ever present pucker factor.
Jack completed his overseas tour of duty on the island of Morotai, New Guinea, and came home with malaria. He was scheduled to return to the Pacific for the invasion of Japan when the Enola Gay dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Jack told me he loved that bomb. It meant he didn’t have to go back.
My marvelous cousin just turned 90.