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Interview with Warren Gordon Beavers [1/3/2003]

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Today is Friday, January 3rd, 2003, and this is the beginning of an interview with Warren Gordon Beavers at the Erlanger Health Plaza Office, 975 East Third Street, Chattanooga, Tennessee. Mr. Beavers was born November 20th, 1922, and is now 80 years old. My name is Michael Willie, and I will conduct this interview. Mr. Beavers, could state for the recording your name and its spelling, please.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

W-A-R-R-E-N, G-O-R-D-O-N, B-E-A-V-E-R-S.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

And during which war did you serve?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

What's that?

Michael Lloyd Willie:

During which war did you serve?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

The Second World War.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. And in which branch of the service?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Marines.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

And what was your rank at discharge?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Sergeant.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. Mr. Beavers, where were you born?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

I was born in Dayton, Tennessee.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Dayton, Tennessee? And where is that around?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

That's around -- up above -- north of Chattanooga.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

North of Chattanooga? Okay. This is a national thing, so people all over the world will be seeing it. Tell me about your family. Do you have any brothers or sisters?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

I had -- well, I have none that's living. I've got -- I'm the only one. I've got several children. You know, I have got three -- three boys and one girl.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. Now, when you were growing up in Dayton, did you have any brothers or sisters?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Well, they -- they died early.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Right. Right. But --

Warren Gordon Beavers:

There was -- there was one brother and one -- one sister, Everett and Ruby.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. And how old were they relative to you?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

They was around -- they were much older than I were. I was the oldest -- youngest one of all of them.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. And what did your family do? What did you dad do for a living in Dayton?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

He was with the TVA.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

With TVA?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Yeah. He died early.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. Now, did you live in Dayton all the time up until you joined the service, or did you live --

Warren Gordon Beavers:

That's where I was when I went into the service.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. And you say you were 17 when you went in?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

17 when I went in.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. Why did you join the service?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Well, I went in because we had just gotten through the depression, and everybody was poor back then, you know, and I was working, trying to work and -- and get a little living for my mother and making very poor out at it. So I went into the Marine Corps in 1917 -- I mean, when I was 17.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

When you were 17, so that was around 1930?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

1940.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

'40?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

1940.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. So you joined the service, and where did you go to basic training?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Parris Island.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Parris Island.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

South Carolina.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. And what was Parris Island like for you? Did you like it?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Well, I was in it just a little while, about three or four weeks and had a hurricane that came through. And that was really exciting and -- when the hurricane blew me away, just about. And we were on bivouac and different places like that, and it was really exciting, you know. And back in that time, why, it took about 18 weeks to go through our basic training, extended -- extended, you know, trill -- drill and everything like that.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

And it was just -- it's different now.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Well, during that time, when you were in the service, you went to the basic training. Did they also --

Warren Gordon Beavers:

And then extended -- extended.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. So was that an advanced -- advanced training --

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Yes.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

-- type thing?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Yeah.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Did you have a specialty at that time?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

No. Not specialty, just everything, you know, getting -- getting acquainted with it what do you know, you know.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. Now, when you joined the service and during the time when you were in basic training, in Parris Island, were you keeping up with what was going on over in Europe, or were they -- were you --

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Now, the only fight that was going on then was between Germany and the other allies, you know, France and all the others. There wasn't any war between the United States.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Right. Right. But were you aware of what was going on at that time before the United States getting involved?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Somewhat. Now, one reason that we knew that it was going on was because the German U-boats was active in the Atlantic. And during our -- right after our training, why, we were sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba --

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

-- because there were U-boats that was in the islands.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Right.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

And we were there just to more or less let them know that we were there. We was at Guantanamo Bay, and we landed on all the little small islands around about Cuba, making landings in boats and different things like that, just to let the U-boats know that we were there.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. Just wanted your presence to be known, then; right?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

What was that?

Michael Lloyd Willie:

You just wanted your presence to be known?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

That's all. There was no fighting or nothing like that. But it was a real experience with being with Cubans, and it was different.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

What were they like?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Oh, they had -- they had fun. We did too. We were of different nationality, you know, and they -- they didn't know how to talk, and we didn't know how to converse with them. But we -- we did have a good time with them. We stayed about four or five months. I don't know exactly how long, but we stayed about four or five months, and then came back to Quantico.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. Now, during this time -- and before you left, first of all, were you in a relationship with anybody? Did you have a girlfriend --

Warren Gordon Beavers:

No, no, no.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

-- that you were going to keep in touch with or anything?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Too young. I was trying to find one back home at that time.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. All right. So the only person that you were keeping in touch would be your mother?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

My mother, yes.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. All right. Now, you got to Guantanamo Bay, and then you were sent back to the United States? Is that --

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Yeah. We were sent back. Now, when we got back, why, we were known as the -- not the First Marines. It was a separate battalion, because they were thinking about starting a new Marine fighting unit, and they called it a separate division. I have got it written down. You have it. And then after awhile, we were -- we were called the First Marine Raiders, with Edson as our Commander.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. Now, around this time -- and let's see, you have been -- you joined the service. You're in 18 weeks, first of all, for your basic training. Then you were sent to Guantanamo Bay for about how long?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

I really don't know. There was a few months there.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. So --

Warren Gordon Beavers:

So it was in '42 that -- when we got -- you know, we back and doing different things, trying to find out what we were doing, who we were with. We weren't at war, you know.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Right. Right. Now, do you remember where you were and how you heard about Pearl Harbor?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Sure. I was there at Guantanamo -- I was up at Quantico. I hate to say it, but we were gambling one Sunday afternoon on December the 7th, in the afternoon. And all of a sudden the radios blared out that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. And it was devastating. They were showing, you know, different things and talking about different war and what ships was being sunk and how many men killed, and such as that. And it was a devastating thing for everyone.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Right.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Because there wasn't a war in the United States at that time.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Right.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

And we was just having a good time, you know, and all of a sudden, in the afternoon, when all of a sudden the radio came on and blared out that Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Right. So at that point you pretty much knew -- did you pretty much know you were --

Warren Gordon Beavers:

They -- they -- the commanders put us on standby, because we was the only ones that was really ready to fight --

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Right.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

-- in 1940- -- you know, '40- -- '42, wasn't it?

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Right.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

August (sic) the 7th. And we were the only ones that was really ready to fight, so immediately they said, "Pack your seabags." That was all the things that we had, you know. And we packed our seabags and stood by for several days and several days, waiting, you know. And then early that -- I believe it was in April. I'm not exactly sure -- the following -- you know, when we left. And we just tooled around and went into the American Samoa, a beautiful island, beautiful island.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Now, were you guys, before that time up until that point, in April, when you left, were you training more extensively?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

We were. We were training, long hikes and exercise and building ourselves up and getting ready, you know, to do what we were supposed to do.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. So you got to American Samoa, you said?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Yeah. We stayed. That was the most beautiful place you'd ever seen, and -- and naturally, I was -- whatever anybody wanted to do. I gambled with the chief. He always broke me, kept me broke, and he was a good guy. And, of course, we had tents we lived in, and it was terrible, but we all had a good time. And I remember one night, it was real -- and they had been dancing all night and keeping us awake. So I reached under my bunk and pulled my rifle out and shot, made a lot of loud noise. And all of a sudden, all the officers was there, along with the chief. And he said, "Did you shoot that? Did you fire the rifle?" he asked me. And I said, "Oh, no. I wouldn't." And he smelled my rifle, you know, and I had already cleaned it. So they had a time, but they never did accuse me of it, but they knew that I did. But after -- it wasn't too long after that that we got down serious about, you know, moving on up the -- on up the way.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. So you were in the American Samoa, and they sent you to the Fijis?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Well, on our way up, you know.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

We landed at Fiji to get some practice, you know. Buffalo grass was about eight feet long. I remember running through that with all of my platoon. And, boy, it was terrible hot. I almost passed out, but it was just an exercise to get ready for Tulaghi.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. All right. So you were sent to Tulaghi. Now, when you're sent to Tulaghi, did they -- are you expecting --

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Yeah. We were going in to fight.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

See, we had -- we had four -- I believe it was four destroyers, full strike, old-timing, and they made into a troop carrier, and that's what we landed on.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

We had our rubber boats, paddles, and all of our gear, little light gear. We didn't have no heavy gear, just light gear, to go into Tulaghi. And we always tried to start a battle on the 7th, you know, to keep it in mind. So it was August the 7th, nineteen hundred and --

Michael Lloyd Willie:

-- forty-two.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Yep. That we came in -- that we came in. It was dark. And we were -- we were told that we were going to only hit it and leave that afternoon. But we did too good. We surprised them all, surprised them. They didn't know anything more. We paddled in, dark, went ashore, nine little boys in our boat, you know. We had nine. I was a sergeant. Well, I wasn't a sergeant then, but I had a platoon that was 27 in my platoon. But I had one that was in charge, but nine. So it we went in about -- we had no opposition. I was the point man in my platoon, and we had half of the island taken before we did anything. And honestly, before God, this is the truth. We slipped in, and they were playing either golf or soccer, two boys there, the two Japanese men down there. So I saw them, and to make a long story short, I broke it up. I broke the game up. I opened fire on them. Of course, I missed them. And it was about 200 yards, and it was -- it was barely getting daylight. And they ran. But by that time, war had started, you know. We moved on in, and we had probably over -- about two-thirds of the island taken, beautiful island. Now, these were -- these were Japanese Marines. They weren't little, bitty small fellows. They -- they -- most of them stood about five-eleven to six feet tall. They were big men. And our -- our -- our war sergeant -- we had about a thousand of our men in -- in position, and it started pretty -- full blast.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. So at what point -- how long had you been on, after you had landed, before that?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

It was probably in -- ten o'clock or something along that line.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. BEAVER: It was daylight, really good, long daylight in the afternoon -- or in the morning. You know, it was about daylight. I would say ten -- between ten and twelve o'clock --

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

-- is when we really opened up on the -- on the Japanese, and, you know, it was strange for us. We'd never been in combat.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Right. Right.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

And it was just a heyday for us. I was only 18 or 19 years old at that time, and it was just having a good time with.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Right.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

And we were -- we were opening up fire. And I never will forget one of my captains, he was -- you know, the Japanese was everywhere. It was a surprise to them. Some of them was in the trees, hiding. And when my captain pulled out his pistol -- didn't have a -- he probably had another one, but he started shooting the Japanese with a pistol. And they were snipers, you know, and he did pretty good. Sometime one of our Hellcats came down, airplane, and just split a little small island next to Tulaghi. It was something. It was something. It was something, the hole.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Now, you said you had them cut off?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Had the what?

Michael Lloyd Willie:

You said you had taken, pretty much, two-thirds of the island --

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Yeah.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

-- by that time; right?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Well, we had them against the -- against the ocean.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

See, it wasn't a large island.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Right.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

It was probably five to ten miles circumference all around.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Right.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

So we had right up against -- maybe two to three hundred yards from the ocean, and we was up on the hill shooting.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. So you were on the hill.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

We were shooting down on them.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Well, how were they were hidden? They dug in, or did they --

Warren Gordon Beavers:

No, they weren't.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

If they did, we didn't -- they was trying to get to us, and we was keeping them away, you know.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. Did you all take many casualties that day?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Yeah. We took quite a few of our men. We took all of theirs. I can tell you the rest of that, if you want me too.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Yeah, yeah. Please.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Now, see, we fought up til about two o'clock, and we were -- we were supposed to pull out that afternoon, because we given __+ and all the rest of them. This was just more or less an exter- -- you know, to see what was going to happen. So we were gathering up on a hill, waiting for our ships to come in, our little destroyers, to come in at two o'clock. But about that time, I happened to look and saw this cruiser. An aircraft cruiser, is what it was. I thought it was the Indianapolis, but I'm not sure. I won't say. But it was a six -- three -- three turrets forward and three back; three guns forward, three back. Never will forget it. It was antiaircraft, anti-craft. And about that time, I looked up, and there were 20 to 25 Japanese coming over us. I was sitting there, looking at them, just right at them. And all of a sudden, I looked at this cruiser, and it looked like it just sat down in the ocean, and all the turrets opened up. So help me, they knocked all the zeros down, 20 to 25, before they even got to the boat. And one went by, and then they knocked everyone of them down. Got the other one down as it passed by. And about that time, we saw that they were coming from the north. You know, the Japanese was coming from the north, and we had done such a good job. We had taken just about all of the island, so the commanders gave us the orders to secure the island, secure Tulaghi. So it was a -- it was a terrible -- it was a bad night. Beautiful night to look at, but it was a terrible night to try to fight. And I went to a -- I never will forget it. I went to a house that was there to get me a drink of water, just took a little path a little way, went into the house. Now, I found out a that just few minutes later, there were 15 Japanese inside that house.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

You're kidding me?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

I got my water. Someone went with me. I forget who it was. He came out. But one of my friends was walking down the same path that I was, but he was shot in the face, my buddy. And then they killed off all the eight -- the 15 Japanese. And the commander, my captain, said, "Beaver," he said, "We have got a machine gun right above you, just maybe about 50 yards or 75." And he said, "You're going to have to" -- "you're going to take your squad and take that machine gun." And I said, "My rifle won't fire." I'd fired so many times that it -- that it jammed. He said, "I've got you a new one," gave me another one. And I was going to get out of it, you know, because I knew it was going to be the end of me. So he said, "I tell you what we're going to do, Mr. Beavers." He said, "We're going to send in a flare. When they drop the flare, you observe it, and then you take your squad and knock out that machine gun." And I didn't pray, but I started praying, you know. I didn't know anything about praying, but I did. I was right in behind of a coconut palm with my squad ready. And they were shooting right over my head, knocking bark down on me, so help me. And there happened to be another Marine there that there all night long with me, but he got the Navy Cross, and I didn't even -- I was right -- sitting the same place with him. Never did mention my name, but it's all right. And the flare never did fall. They knocked the machine gun out. I went up there the next morning, and we would have been dead in a minute. But all of them was knocked out and killed. And I lost one of my buddies that night. He just went -- he just walked away. The next morning we found him. Moyer (ph) was his name, from Pennsylvania. And I never will forget it. But he wandered back in the next morning, and I found Moyer. He fought with us all through Guadalcanal, and they stationed him at -- they stationed him over there at Guadalcanal, and he stayed the rest of the war. I had to come back -- a different thing. But he was a wonderful guy. Now, during that time -- it was the eighth, eighth of that night.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

I remember.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

We had -- we had a real sea battle. I have got -- I have got the name of that down.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Coral sea Battle?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Coral Sea Battle. It was fought that night, and I watched the -- the fire that went on. We lost eight cruise- -- we lost four cruisers, two American and two Australian. I did have all the names down, but I forgot. They've got it in the history. But they put us down on the ocean to keep people from coming in, because there was Japanese swimming in and boxes and things swimming in. We were put down there to keep anything for coming in, you know. We didn't want anymore coming in. We wanted them to leave. We didn't want them in.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Right.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

So we was sitting down there to shoot any of them coming from. And it lasted all night long, but it was pretty quiet after the battle was over. Then we were -- I believe it was the 9th or somewhere around that time. I don't have all the dates exactly right, but I think it was the 9th. We pretty well secured the island, knocked out all the caves. They were in caves, and had what we called -- we put TNT together in a bottle, and run up to the caves, and threw them in. And when it did, it would explode, and you know, it took most of them out.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Right.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

We secured all the -- all the caves and -- and that. But it was during that day -- I believe it was the 8th or 9th -- a large cruiser came in. A Japanese cruiser came in. And, so help me, I was dug in, and I could see the people walking along on the -- on the ship. I could hit them with a rock, if I would had thrown one. But I dared not let them know where I was at, because I was a dead man. But about that time a large bomber come over. An American bomber came over. I think it was from New __ or somewhere down there. They came over and scared that cruiser off. When they did, why, they left. But about the same time, I remember we didn't have anything to hit anything with. I think we might have had a 90-millimeter, you know, to shoot, but we just had one. But I never will forget looking about that time, there was -- there was a submarine that came up, and it wasn't very far, maybe 300 yards, something like that, off of our beach. Well, I never will forget my buddy, Lou Diamond. He was an old Army. He fought in China or had been over there, and Lou Diamond was an older man. He was about 40 years old, and I was just a kid, you know. And I never will forget when the -- when the cruiser -- when the submarine came up, the only thing we had to shoot was that 81-millimeter mortar. And all of sudden Lou Diamond turned that 81-millimeter mortar on that submarine and fired a shot. It was -- it was pretty close, not real close, but pretty close. And then he loaded up again and went at it again, and this time it was pretty close, pretty close to the sub. And it submerged and went down, and that's about it. And then about the same day or a little bit after that, well, all the island was secured, as far as we know, because we didn't have no more Japanese that we could see. They might have hid or gone to another island. So we got our outfit together. I don't know whether it was a complete company or what, but we put in yippy boats, is what we called it. They delivered meat between islands, you know, in -- in peacetime. So they put us in yippy boats, along with our rubber boats, and went over -- I believe it was New Georgia. It was an island pretty close to Tulaghi. I could be mixed up on that. I know New Georgia, we took it later on. And we went over there to run -- find some Japanese or some that was hiding or some that was trying to get away.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

And when you say it was close to Tulaghi, how close are you talking about? Close enough they could swim from --

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Well, they could -- yeah. Or -- or in some way get back.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

It wasn't that far.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

But we took the little yippy boats over there and landed. And while we were over there, we were looking for personnel, but we found a lot -- I mean, a lot of medical supplies and maybe a few -- few Japanese but very many.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

We stayed that one afternoon, and then came back in the yippy boats -- yippy boats and landed.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

You found supplies. You didn't find any --

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Yeah. We found quite a lit of supplies.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. And no -- no Japanese soldiers?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Well, a few, but I -- I didn't happen to run into any of them.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Because I know my captain shot one that he shot with a pistol.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

He was trying to -- they didn't have nothing, but he was trying to bring about some trouble. You know, I saw him when he -- when he ran -- ran at the captain. That one, he just -- I shouldn't even say that, but he shot him. And one of those things. And after that we back over to Guadalcanal. We went back over and back to Guadalcanal.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. So you get back to Tulaghi and you were sent to --

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Yeah. We went on over to -- we went on over to --

Michael Lloyd Willie:

You said Guadalcanal?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Guadalcanal. Yeah. We went over there. We -- we got on our ships and went on over there. See, they had -- they had already landed over at Guadalcanal.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

But they were -- you know, they weren't -- they weren't moving the way they should have moved, so we took our --

Michael Lloyd Willie:

First Marines?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Yeah. We took our Raider Battalion over there.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

And, you know, we bivouaced in one of the most beautiful coconut groves I ever saw. I guess it was a -- commercial. But we dug in -- in, you know, there. Now, really, Henderson Field was the only field that we was -- that our airplanes could be in. And the Seabees did that. They got it fixed up where they could land and such as that. But that was our only means of holding that island, was the -- the airplanes that was there and those ships that we had around about and the ones that we landed. See, Henderson Field is what we held. It was about a mile or two miles around, and we did do that. But during that -- during that bivouacing area, we'd go out about every two or three days and try to start a little fight. You know, the Japanese was all around here and yonder, and we tried to find someone that we could get into a little scrap with. There was a river up above there that we fought three or four times, Matanikau. I've got it written down. I may not be saying it exactly right, but I've got it down. And we was up there several times. What they would do -- they would -- they would come down from up north down to Guadalcanal and land their Marines there, the Japanese Marines -- people there. They would land them, and they would come down to Henderson Field, trying to take it over.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Right.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

And we was there to -- you know, to keep them from it, and we did that, well, from August until I left in October. So that was about two or three months that we had to fight in that. And so --

Michael Lloyd Willie:

How long were you there defending? You were moving out? You were finding them; right?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Yeah. We were defending and trying to find the ones that landed at night.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Right. Right.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

They come out about once or twice, three times a week. They would land in a boat up there, and then come down to Henderson field, and we would be waiting on them. Of course, there was other Marines there too. The several -- as you got there, later on, after October, when he comes in there. Chesty comes in and secures it, secures the whole island. But we would -- we would fight all the time, going out, going in. I never will forget, I took my little platoon way up in the mountains. This boy's trying to find them and really hoping that I wouldn't find them, but found some Japanese swimming in the -- in a lake or a river. It sort of frightened me. I thought that -- fire on them, but I'm glad I didn't, because it would have been too bad. But ran back -- came on back down to my bivouac area. But we -- we found them, and they would bomb us and different things and then come back down to Henderson Field. We fought up at Matanikau, and I remember going up there one time. Colonel Edson -- we called him "Red Mike." He was our commander and chief. And Major Holt came in and took us over and let Edson go. I never will forget going up to Matanikau. Lou Diamond was there, one of my old friends. He was the one that fired the submarine, you know, fired at it. And I was going up the road, and Lou was there, and he happened to he see me. We -- we had been friends since __. And he said, "Hey, Beavers, I'm going to golf them in your pocket." What he was really going to get those -- get those __ millimeter mortars real close to us. "We're going to put them in our pocket." And I thought he was. I really thought he was. He was putting them right on us. Of course, we had the Japs right there by the river, and we was right there. And he was -- he was putting them on the Japs, also. But we went back there that time, back to Henderson Field, but we found them out real good, where they were. And there was a big contingent of them that come in. We fought them that afternoon, and we set up our line of defense, and it was called "Bloody Nose Ridge" after it was -- after the battle was over. And we anchored -- we anchored that with 50-millimeter submachine guns with all our other automatic weapons. I always carried a BAR, a Browning automatic, and it had 20 shots. But I always found one. I'd pick it up and carry it with me. I got my other little rifle, also, because I just couldn't shoot one, but I could shoot that rifle automatic real good, and it was real good. So we put all of our automatics on the -- on the line that night, and that's when the Japanese came in. And we lost -- I've got his name there. I forgot it.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Gadone (ph)?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

No, no. The man that got the Congressional Medical of Honor. I've got it there, but I keep forgetting it.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Yeah. Is it Red Mike?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

No. He got it later on. That was -- he got -- there's two or three of them that got the Congressional Medal of Honors during the war. He got his that night because he -- not Red Mike, but I've got it written down there. Anyway, he -- he led a charge and lost his life, but he got the Congressional Medal of Honor. I got it down there, and we could can put it down later on. But he was killed, and we broke the backbone of the Japanese charge, you know, that day and that night, and -- that night. And I imagine there is about 2,000 of them picked up dead, Japanese, and the ones that got away. But we went back up to Matanikau, and I never will forget. It was a beautiful little area right on the ocean, river running down to it. It seemed like the Japanese always come into that area. Now, I never forget. We fought that afternoon. That was after the Bloody Nose. And there was a holdout on the Japanese there. And I never will forget the Conley (ph) in there -- the Conley in there, and he was a platoon man, a little mortar, and he came in. He said, "Hey, Beaver," he said, "I'm going to be drinking Joe with you tomorrow," coffee. And he went into his line and just before his this -- went into the little line. He should have never taken his mortars in there, because that was not right. That was behind lines for shooting, you know. He went in there, but he got killed that night. But I never will forgot Gadone (ph), Frank Gadone was a real good, close friend of mine. We always went on liberty together. He was always a man who would get into a fight, and I stayed out of fights. You know, I was having a good time, but he always managed to get someone to fight. But anyway, he had asked several of his men to go in there where the Japs was and -- and destroy them. And I had asked three or four about it. And they said, "Hey, I just don't want to go in there." And he said, "I just don't want to go in there." And I had asked two or three and they wouldn't go. So Gadone came up, and he said, "Hey, Beavers, Major Holt is wanting" -- "wanting to talk to you." So I went with him. And he said, "I want you all to go and knock those out, knock those Japs out." So Gadone and I went in, just him and I, and we finally found a little opening where we could toss the grenades. It was very, very bushy and everything. You couldn't get into it. We found a little opening, found where they were at. And we had about 10 or 12 grenades apiece, and we dropped them in, and we started up a real fight. They got to screaming and hollering and going on. And we got out of there real quick and got back on the line. And in a few in minutes they all came, the ones that was left. And they charged and killed Conley. Mitchell, he barely got out, but he just barely did. I saw him later on, but he didn't get killed. And when we got back, that was about the 10th. That was between the 10th and the 13th of October of, you know, '42. And the next morning we came back down to Guadalcanal, to bivouac area, and got a hold of the Old McCauley (ph). That was one of the troop carriers that always seemed we'd ended up carrying -- they would carry us into where we was going. So we finally got on it. And while we were pulling out of Guadalcanal, going to New Zealand for a rest area, why, they started -- they started shelling us. The Japanese way up in the mountains, they was shelling us, the McCauley, when we pulled out. I gave you a book where Chesty came in, the Seventh Marines, and took over where we let off, and they -- they -- they took care of what was left there. Really and truly they put it down in the book that they broke the back of the Japanese at that time. From then on, why, we were -- we were going from island to island, finding the Japanese. Instead of them looking for us, we were looking for them. And Chesty was -- he -- the Seventh Marines broke -- broke the battle. And after that, why, I went back to the United States of America and went to a couple of bases, organized another group of people to bring to -- to bring to the Pacific.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. Now, Major Ken Bailey is, I believe, the one you were talking about.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Yeah, Ken; yeah, Bailey.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

He was the one killed that was on Bloody Nose that night.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Right.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

And red -- Red Mike was there. But after that, he went into other combat areas. He received the Congressional Medal of Honor, along -- they named a cruiser after Red Mike Edson. So he was -- he was a very noted Marine at that time.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Now, let me ask you also about Matanikau.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Yeah.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Is that where your friend had written you the letter about that experience with the --

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Gadone?

Michael Lloyd Willie:

-- grenades, it looks like.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Cramer?

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Is it Frankie that says that?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Yeah. Frankie Gadone, him and I went in and used grenades.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Frankie, he stayed in the Marines and went on up -- on the island, Bouganiville. Bouganiville, they took it, Bouganiville. It's in a later time, but I was already gone. Bouganiville was where most of the staging areas was coming from, because it was a -- it was a big Japanese base. But we took that later on, but I was already gone.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. So you went home from Guadalcanal? You go --

Warren Gordon Beavers:

I went down to New Zealand for a month or so, you know, just resting and such as that, and then went back to the United States. Camp Elliot, Camp Pendleton, was some of the islands -- some of the cities that I had to go to, or bases to go to as a Marine.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

And you're basically gathering or preparing troops for going over there?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

For going back again.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

And that was in 1944, I believe, I went back over to Saipan and Tinian.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. Now, when you're back in states, you met -- how did you meet your wife?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Do what?

Michael Lloyd Willie:

How did you meet your wife?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

That was in -- that was in '43, I believe, it was. We married in June '43. We were married in June of '43.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. So you were -- when you were in Elliot and Pendleton, Camp Elliot and Pendleton, you were a drill instructor? Is that what you were doing?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

I was sergeant at that time, training other Marines to go back over.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. That -- okay. So --

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Now, I was with -- they called it "air liaison," ship to air. I guarded them while they called in ships. I was going tell you about that. The ship to -- you know, at Tinian, I was there, and I guarded them while they called in ships to bomb and ships to -- to fire on them.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Well, was that Saipan?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

That's Saipan and Tinian.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Well, let's get back to when you were at Camp Elliot and Camp Pendleton, when you were a drill instructor. Okay. And, yeah, I want to know how you met your wife, how you met --

Warren Gordon Beavers:

I met her back at Dayton, at my home.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. When did you meet her? During which times?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Well, it was in -- really, during when I was in the Marine. You know, I corresponded with her, and we got talking with each other, and I'd take my furloughs, and we'd see each other. And then it was when -- it was in June when we, sort of, got together and got serious and got married.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

And, of course, I had to go back to do what I was supposed to do, and she didn't want to go to California, and I'd to leave her again. She'd just have to come back, you know.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Right. All right. You ended getting married, then, in June of '44 or --

Warren Gordon Beavers:

-- '43.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

'43?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Yeah. See, I stayed at Pendleton and Elliot for some -- for a little bit. We pulled out in '44, I believe, around April, somewhere around that time. I lost my grandfather, I believe, in '44, that's the reason I try to keep my mind on it. But it was somewhere around that because I didn't get to come home to see my grandfather, and he died around April. So that's about when I pulled out. And I really and truly don't know whether we went straight in or, you know, went here and yonder, but we got into Saipan.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

So you're into Saipan. Now, once again, explain what you were doing to Saipan.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

I was a -- I was a -- guarding the individuals that was calling in ships, fire, and calling in airplanes to drop their -- their bombs on the -- on the targets that we have to have.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. Now --

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Now, it was -- you know, we had taken quite a bit of Saipan. Now, there was a big city there called Garapan, upward of 10,000 people there. It was civilian and Japanese personnel. We had taken it. And I remember we had stayed there about three days, waiting for a presidential order for us to destroy that city, and they finally gave us an order the destroy the city, and we leveled it, completely leveled it. And there was -- there was just a lot of people there.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Now, before this time -- you had -- you had gotten wounded; right?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

No. It was right about -- it was a little time after. We destroyed the -- Garapan.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

I went in at -- at Saipan, the second wave. The first wave, they let them go get by. The second and third wave, they usually -- the Japanese was waiting on them to come in. So we had some fire fights there, but we took -- we took it all the way up to Garapan, and we had to wait to destroy it. And we destroyed it by plane and by the ships. You know, I was guarding them. And I was up there one night. We had -- I was on an outpost, and I had my little three or four men with me, and I was on an outpost, dug in, when I heard some commotion. And it was my -- out- -- my American people, and I thought it was a Jap, but it wasn't. And I got up to make -- to make a challenge, you know, and when I did I got shot in the left hand and the arm, and it wasn't very much. It was just a scratch or two. You know, I didn't even stop. I went to the sick bay two or three times, but it wasn't all that bad. But then we moved on. I never will forget. We was in a large cemetery and hiding behind the stones and different things. And that was in '44, and I never will forget. And I say this, you know, good, but say it in a bad way. But it was the first time that we had seen the black man come into the Marines. That was the first time they allowed anyone else into the Marines. And they came in, and also into the Navy and into the others. But we hid there and fought a battle or two. But it was at Marpi Point, at the end of the island of Saipan, all the Japanese had gone to this high elevation, possibly a thousand to 5,000 feet up, down to the ocean.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

And you're not talking just soldiers? You're talking --

Warren Gordon Beavers:

I'm just talking --

Michael Lloyd Willie:

-- civilians?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Yeah. They were up there.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Right.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

The Japanese had gone up there. I don't know. I guess they didn't want none of them to be -- surrender. But they had a thousand to maybe 10,000 Japanese up there. I didn't go up there. I was holding down here, and -- (Knocking.)

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. Once again, Marpi Point and --

Warren Gordon Beavers:

All the -- all the Japanese had been huddled in up there. There must have been a thousand to 10,000 up there. What they would do -- I could hear the firing. What they was doing, they would -- if they throw -- if they didn't volunteer to jump over, they would shoot them and then throw them over. I could hear them. I could hear them firing, but I didn't want to go up there, you know, mix into something like that. So we stayed -- we stayed a half a mile, a mile, away from the point. But I never will forget. They were hundreds and thousands of dead bodies in the -- in the water, so thick that boats couldn't even get through because they had committed suicide or whatever. They would kill the mothers or wives or children, kill them, throw them off, and they jump off themselves, is what would usually happen. But we had a -- we had a terrible thing there, you know, before it was completely over. That was just about the end of it, because there wasn't no more fighting left in this -- in -- in Saipan.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

But a few days later, why, we went on over to Tinian, which was an island not very far from -- now, there's three islands there that was -- that was struck about the same time. And to be sure, it's a very poplar place now because it's a very good place for people to go see now.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Now, in Tinian --

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Tinian is just a small -- it's a small island not far from Saipan. A few days later, we -- we might have stayed around a few time -- a day or two long before we went over to Tinian. But for some reason, we had to go over there, too. And I -- I can't remember why, because most of the fighting was already done by that time, and -- but we went over there anyway. I took an outfit over there. And I never will forgot that most of the island was taken, and right down at the end of it were all the Japanese had gathered together. But these were not a high point. These were caves. Some of them went two and three -- below the ground, like -- like, upstairs and downstairs and such as that. But there were a lot of them in there, and a lot of them didn't want to come out, and they killed themselves.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Oh, they killed themselves?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Yeah. They killed themselves. We didn't -- we didn't want to kill no body, you know, like that, but they killed themselves and committed suicide. There may be more to this than I -- than I knew. What I'm telling you is what I know.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Right.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

But there might have been more. Someone else might tell you more about it than I could. But there were -- there were several of them at Tinian that died. Now, after I got back to the States, why, two -- two ships sailed out of Tinian and went in and bombed Japan.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

But I was already --

Michael Lloyd Willie:

They came out of Tinian, then?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Yeah. The two bombs that -- that dropped the atomic bombs.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. All right.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Nagasaki and what?

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Hiroshima.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Yeah. Those two islands. Those were -- there were hundreds of thousands killed from that.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. Now, it says during the last part of the battles, you became sick.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

I became sick after I had got out of the last battle.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

I took a lung infection. In fact, there was a lot of people that had -- I contracted seven different -- the mosquitos got me, but it was at Tinian that I took a lung -- yeah. And they shipped me to the United States, and I finished out my time during that. But it was -- it was all very good. I was through in November. I was through by 1945.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Now, you got back to the VA hospital in Wisconsin. Is that --

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Yeah. Waukesha; Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Was your wife able to join you?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

No, no. I came -- I came and went. I would like to -- I'm thinking real -- there. We had received, I think, two or three Presidential Citations, and Halsey and Vanderbilt, also, medals, you know, that we fought with them. We lost quite a few carrier base -- you know, ships and -- But really at Guadalcanal -- it's called Iron Bottom -- Iron Bottom Bay. They tell me that upward -- both sides -- upward of a thousands ships that was sunk in Guadalcanal, in the area, that area. And it was very, very -- thing. But I stayed up in Wisconsin about three months, three to six months, and came home.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

And at that point, were you discharged when you came home?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Yeah. Discharged.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Okay. What did you do after discharge?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Well, in 1946, December, I was converted and received the Lord Jesus Christ as my savior and was called to be a minister, went into the -- Cleveland, the school, Church of God School of Theology, later.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Cleveland, Tennessee?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Yeah. Cleveland, Tennessee. I went five years into a college degree. And then I preached all that time, preaching everywhere all over the United States. And the very, very fine ministry -- I mean, churches that I pastored. I don't want to go into all that. But I was also __+2 over New England, Northern New England, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. I had the churches under -- under my jurisdiction at that time. And still preaching a little bit now at 80. They called me last week up in Maine, wanting me to come back there to preach again. And I just happened to think, there's three rivers up there that's full of small mouth bass. And I thought might be a little inclination for me to go up there, because I fished there before and enjoyed that, being up there, very much. Through all this, I have made such wonderful friends down through life that I am very well blessed with God of that. And I've preach now since 1946. I started -- well, I was converted in 19- -- December 1946 and started preaching in 1947. So this is 2003, so that makes quite of few years that I have been involved in the ministry of the church of God, and I am real happy about it.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

Anything you'd like to talk about that we didn't cover in your interview?

Warren Gordon Beavers:

No. There's a thousand and one things I could talk, but I don't want to take too much more of the time.

Michael Lloyd Willie:

I think you did a great job.

Warren Gordon Beavers:

Well, I appreciate that. (The interview concluded.)

 
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  October 26, 2011
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