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Irene Bayless wrote the following on Joe (1919-1943):
"Joe grew up on a farm near Farmington. When he joined the Marine Corps, he was assigned to the Amphibian Tractor Training Station in Dunedin, Fla. "The Amphibian Tractors were invented by a man in Clearwater, Fla. We had a bad hurricane that killed lots of people because rescue could not reach them due to heavy flooding and high winds. He said he would make a vehicle that would go anywhere, like an alligator. "I met Joe at a dance, held every Saturday evening at the Community Center in my hometown, Largo, Fla. (Clearwater and Largo were just south of the training station). A neighbor of mine was one of the sponsors of the dance and she always said she got Joe and me together. "When the war started, the Marines were transferred to San Diego. Joe learned he would stay there for a while so he sent for me to join him in San Diego. The people of the area were opening their homes to servicemen and their families. "The couple we stayed with had three under-school-age children. I took care of their children and did the cooking for our room and board. The lady of the house went to work at the airplane plant. "Later, we were joined by a friend of mine (another Marine and Largo girl). Three families in a small two bedroom house. Though we were cramped, we lived like one big family and believe it or not there was no bickering, just happy to be together as long as possible. Other homes were even more crowded than ours, anywhere a bed or cot could be placed. "The war was on for nearly a year when Joe's turn came to go overseas. Our daughter was two months old at the time. He went to New Zealand and he was there almost a year before going into battle at Tarawa. He was assigned a new version of the Alligator, called the Buffalo. It was supposed to be larger and better fortified. "Joe's Captain told me he saw him the last time at the ship around noon of that first day of the battle. He had already made several trips to take supplies for the men reaching the beach. Joe said to the Captain 'It is really bad out there and we are losing an awful lot of men.' "Joe reached the shore the time he took a direct hit and his men buried him in a shallow grave to prevent his body from going back out to sea. To make the battle worse that horrible day the Navy Higgins boats got stuck on the coral reefs and the Amphibians had to shuttle from the Higgins to wading distance from shore to get enough men on shore to hold the line. It took four days to secure the island. "Joe was declared missing for some time then I received word they were sure he was dead. They had not located his body but placed a marker in the cemetery set up on the island. I left San Diego and went first to his family in Missouri for a few months, then back go Largo. Seven years later, I was notified Joe's body had been identified by his teeth after sifting sands on the island. They recommended burial at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu. And I agreed. "Our daughter grew up in Largo, is an RN and married. From the marriage of Joe and I came a daughter, two grand children and three great grand children also two step great grand children, a loving family and we get together often. "In 1987, my daughter and I finally were able to go to Hawaii to visit the cemetery and Joe's grave. It is a very impressive place. On Memorial Day each year a special service is held and the children of the schools in Honolulu march in with Orchids to place on each grave. The natives call the cemetery Puowina Miaus, Hill of Sacrifice."
BAYLESS, Joseph W., Staff Sgt., USMC. Wife, Mrs. Joseph W. Bayless, Rt. 1, Farmington, Mo + BAYLESS, Joseph William, 293726,
H&SCo, 2ndAmphTracBn, 2ndMarDiv, FMF, Gilbert Islands, November 20, 1943, killed in action