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George Martin 's eyes reflected the blue of the ocean, and indeed, he has spent most of his life near the ocean or on it, living and sailing recreational vessels on both coasts, and serving with the U.S. Navy in the Pacific during WWII. In 1942, he enlisted in the V-6 program that produced naval officers at Notre Dame, Northwestern and Columbia Universities . He was called to Notre Dame in 1943 and went through the four-month class with fellow cadet Kirk Douglas.

George trained as a Naval Gunfire Officer and was assigned to the Army Seventh Division at Fort Ord , California . There he was issued arctic gear in preparation for duty in Alaska , where the Japanese had occupied two islands. The men sailed from Fort Mason in San Francisco to Adak in the Aleutian Islands . Along with men of the Royal Canadian Fusiliers, the soldiers launched an amphibious assault on the island of Kiska . Despite sustaining 18 casualties during the landing, there was no enemy to fight. “The Japanese had left while we were on Adak ,” George said.

He joined the Fifth Amphibious Corps and was attached to the 22nd Marine Regiment at Camp Maui . There, they prepared for assaulting the Marshall Islands . George went into action on Enewetok, calling in fire against enemy snipers. “It was a fast and furious deal” on Enewetok, where the fighting lasted four days.

The 22 nd Regiment went on to Guadalcanal, merged with the Fourth Marine Regiment to form the First Provisional Marine Brigade, and began staging for the assault on Guam in the Marianas . “The Marianas was the toughest landing of all ? for me anyway. But Iwo was no piece of cake.”

Off Guam , the wind and seas picked up as the Marines descended rope nets into landing craft. “We lost three men just getting on the boats,” he recalled. The men then transferred to amtracs and headed for shore. “It was just like a race. They all raced in a line. At 500 yards, the splashes started. The amtrac on the right was hit and sunk. The one on the left took a hit. Our driver dropped the ramp and I was in water up to my neck. All the equipment was wet. We landed under heavy fire. That was just the beginning!” The Marines suffered through the chaotic landing, faced nighttime banzai charges and epidemic amoebic dysentery.

George earned a leave back to the states and reentered action on Iwo Jima , spending a month with the 25 th Marine Regiment. The remainder of the war he served at the amphibious base in San Diego and participated in naval gunnery exercises ? often at night. Returning from a night shoot off San Clemente , the jeep driver hit a boulder injuring everyone on board (George was ambulatory but out of action for a month). The next day was V-J Day.

“When everyone was in the streets kissing girls, we were in the base hospital at San Clemente Island .”


 

George Martin

U.S. Navy WWII
“ Iwo was no piece of cake.”

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