10th Marines, 2nd Division, South Pacific

Bill Fairbrother, a Towner, North Dakota resident, enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in November of 1942. After being sworn in with a group at Minneapolis, they took a train to San Diego. In July of 1943, Bill left San Diego on the U.S.S. President Polk for New Zealand. From New Zealand he was part of the Marine assaults that took Tarawa, Saipan, Tinian and Okinawa. He helped to build the runway on Tinian that the Enola Gay took off from to drop the first atomic bomb. While serving as part of the occupation force in Japan, he was sent to Nagasaki to assist with destroying war equipment and stood in the atomic bomb crater. After Nagasaki he went to Uzen, Nagasaki again, then to Sasebo and finally an LST bound for home. "The trip home took 30 days. Bill had a book, "Forever Amber" which he divided into thirty sections so he had something to read each day of the trip home." Bill arrived home in 1946.

The following are some of Bill's reminisces during his four years of service:

"While fighting my way up the beach of Tarawa I was hit in the helmet with a bullet. I had my chinstrap snapped so when the bullet hit my helmet my head was yanked back. I was knocked out. When I came to I thought I was in heaven because I could see blue sky. It only took a second to realize I was in hell! As the men ran by me they were kicking up sand, which ended up in my eyes and my mouth. I had a horrible headache. I grabbed another helmet off a dead Marine and continued fighting my way up the beach. After that I never used a chinstrap. I finally got tired of my helmet falling off my head so I tossed it out and never wore another helmet."

"I experienced Banzi Attacks at Tarawa, Saipan, Tinian, and Okinawa. The Japanese commanding officers had a big celebration because they were going to "knock the shit out of us!" and they got the Japanese soldiers drunk on Sake. The drunken soldiers charged the American soldiers screaming "Banzai." Banzai means "Blood for the Emperor." You could hear them coming. They were just screaming. They would run into a wall of gunfire. The Americans fired, fired, and fired until there was no more screaming. All you could hear was a few moans and groans from the few that were still alive. The few that were alive were shot. It was quite a hair-raising experience to hear them coming. The Americans had no idea if they would get through or not. More than a thousand Japs were cut to pieces on Saipan."

During the trip home, a truck broke loose from its moorings in the hold of the LST. Each time the ship rocked, so did the truck. Bill had to get underneath the truck to tie it down. He watched as it rocked back and forth so he could jump under it at the right time, which he did and re-anchored the truck.

Saipan, 1944

University Archives, 701-231-8914
Published by the University Archives, NDSU
Last Updated: 8/27/04