Sanders, William, II, Maj

Deceased
 
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 Service Details
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Last Rank
Major
Last Primary MOS
4405-Master Of International Law
Last MOSGroup
Legal Services
Primary Unit
1942-1944, 0302, D Co, 1st Bn, 2nd Marine Regiment (1/2)

Major

 
 

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 Personal Details 

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Home State
West Virginia
West Virginia
Year of Birth
1917
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by MGySgt Scott Welch-Deceased to remember Marine Maj William Sanders, II.

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Contact Info
Home Town
Princeton, West Virginia
Last Address
Sandrine Pointe Drive
Princeton, West Virginia

Date of Passing
Jun 03, 2009
 
Location of Interment
Resthaven Memorial Park Cemetery - Princeton, West Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

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 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
Not Specified
   
Other Comments:
Excerpts from his book on Tarawa:
Current Photo
Echoes of the Last World War
Preface
"Germany and Japan waged a war of brutal conquest of nations and territories in the 1940s. As a Law School graduate, I fought that war in defense of freedom. The war convinced me that international law and government is necessary to achieve and maintain peace and justice among the nations of the world. I have fought my war and practiced my peace at home...."
Tarawa Landing
"I was put in charge of 30 or more weapons company headquarters men, each carrying their own weapon plus a metal box of bandoleered machine gun ammunition to resupply the first waves, the machine gun being the major fire power of the advance ashore. The three weapons company platoons had been assigned to join the three rifle companies (A, B, C) on a line of advance on central Red Beach 12. The Weapons company commander, Major Wendell Andrews, remained on shipboard and assigned Executive Officer Charles Lewis and me to take the weapons headquarters platoon ashore. We rendezvoused around and around in the choppy waters outside the coral reef and outside enemy fire most of D-Day. Finally, near dark, we were ordered to land at the end of the long pier and wade into shore from the coral reef there. Captain Lewis remained in the Higgins Boat with the boat coxswain while I led the 30 men along the pier with Weapons company Property Sergeant Clarence Petrie following me in single file and Company Ordnance Master Gunnery Sergeant Wolford bringing up the rear of the 30 men, single-file. We encountered no opposition wading in the water in and out of the upright posts of the 800 ft. long pier. I was glad we were in waist deep water, since my water works went out of control, a fact I have kept secret until now. We passed a number of dead bodies floating and entangled in the pier structure, both Marine and Japanese bodies, in about equal proportion. I later learned that Lieutenant Hawkins and his Division Scout & Sniper Platoon had cleaned out the Japanese snipers stationed along the pier earlier that first day of the invasion. As we reached the beach, I could see a group of Marines about 25 yards to our left. I halted the column and went to the group, which proved to be the command post of the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, with their commander, Lieutenant Colonel "Jim" Crowe and his radio and several men in a bomb crater just over the sea wall away from each. His Battalion had been assigned Red Beach 3. It was getting dark. I asked him if he knew where Major Kyle was located. His reply was, "Down the beach to the right of the pier," and that I could not reach him that night because the Japs owned the beach interval. He told me to dig in around his CP and added, "I might have to, throw you in there" in the fight expected during the night to push the Marines off the beach. My reply was, "Aye-Aye, Sir!" and I went back to my waiting column of men and consulted Sergeant Petrie and "Gunny" Wolford and continued, single file, along the water's edge and past Division Headquarters and found Major Kyle also set up in a bomb crater just over the sea wall several hundred feet northward to the right of the pier base. I told Major Kyle of my encounter with the well known Colonel Crowe. He laughed and told me to dig my men in around his C.P.
Ship shelling continued all that first night, over our heads, with huge thunderclaps. The island was so small that I was deeply concerned that the ship's shell would fall short and into our midst. Petrie and I dug in together, and he snored all night, while I stayed awake concerned about the shelling over our heads, and in a prayerful attitude. Petrie took charge of the ammunition and gear dump where the men discarded their cumbersome backpacks to enable them to run and to crawl effectively and to dodge the bullets flying thick and fast all over the place. A great number of the men were either injured or simply hunkered down behind the several-feet-high sea wall that ringed the entire island. At break of dawn the second morning, the first activity I saw was a slender Marine with bandages around his head and several other parts of his anatomy. He was running around alone, jumping in and out of pillboxes and bomb craters looking for more Japs to lay low. I found out this crazy guy was none other than Lieutenant Hawkins, and that he had bled to death from wounds a short time after he passed through our command post area. He was given the Congressional Medal of Honor, and the airfield we took from the enemy was renamed Hawkins Field.
The Second Day: Wholesale Slaughter of the 8th Marines
The next thing to attract the attention of all of us located around 151 Battalion Command Post was the first Battalion of 8th Regiment Marines all along our Red Beach 2 front, wading in the waist-deep water more or less abreast steadily and slowly toward the shore. These Marines had been discharged from the Higgins boats at the coral reef 800 feet from shore. They waded in the waist-deep water with all their gear, back-packs, and gas masks hanging over their shoulders and along their sides and ammunition belts around their waists holding their heavy Ml and Browning Automatic Rifles up out of the water - steadily but slowly toward the beach. All of us at Battalion headquarters command post near the sea wall turned our faces to watch this broad front advance when hostile fire commenced, coming from an enemy shore position somewhere north of our command post and near the sea wall. Not one of these several hundred Marines turned back, but it seemed that half or more of them steadily slumped into the water, being held up for a time by their packs and gas masks before sinking to the ocean floor. I observed a number of them making it to the shoreline and then falling on the sand. The enemy fire was coming from a sea wall position about 70 yards from our headquarters. Many of us thought it was coming from a perpendicular coconut log and sand structure that jutted from the sea wall out to the water's edge. Mustached Colonel Rixey, from Culpepper, Virginia, an officer of the 10th Regiment Artillery of our Division, was attached to Colonel Kyle's headquarters, both on the ship and at our Battalion C.P. Prior to the landing of artillery ashore. He had a single 75mm Pack Howitzer and several men with him and, with Colonel Kyle and the rest of us nearby, he set up the canon and fired several rounds into the perpendicular structure. Following the cannon fire of Colonel Rixey, Petrie, Wolford and I gathered as many grenades as we could carry and worked our way down to the seaward end of the perpendicular structure, which we found to have no opening, and was simply some sort of anchoring structure off the seawall. We encountered a Corporal Wells, of Dog Company, on our way to this point. He found a .50 caliber machine gun and a belt of ammunition. We set it up on water's edge of the log and sand structure and fired all the ammunition we had into the seaward window of a pillbox about 30 feet from the base of the log structure."
   
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 Ribbon Bar
Rifle Expert (Pre 1959)USMC Basic Qualification Badge

 
 Enlisted/Officer Basic Training
  1942, Officer Candidate School (Quantico, VA), G
 Unit Assignments
1st Bn, 2nd Marine Regiment (1/2), 2nd Marine Regiment
  1942-1944, 0302, D Co, 1st Bn, 2nd Marine Regiment (1/2)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1943-1943 Gilbert Islands Operation (1943)/Battle of Tarawa
  1944-1944 Marianas Operation /Battle for Saipan
  1944-1944 Marianas Operation /Battle of Tinian (1944)
  1945-1945 Ryukyus Campaign (1945)/Battle for Okinawa
 Colleges Attended
Randolph-Macon CollegeUniversity of VirginiaUniversity of Virginia
  1935-1939, Randolph-Macon College
  1940-1942, University of Virginia
  1946-1948, University of Virginia
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