SILK CHUTES AND HARD FIGHTING. U.S. MARINE CORPS PARACHUTE UNITS IN WORLD WAR II.
THE 2ND PARACHUTE BATTALION SAILED TO GUADALCANAL IN EARLY SEPTEMBER AND THEN MOVED TO A STAGING AREA AT VELLA LAVELLA ON 1 OCTOBER, 1943. NEW ZEALAND AND U.S. FORCES ALREADY HAD SECURED PART OF THAT ISLAND, BUT THE JAPANESE STILL WERE CONTESTING OF THE AIR OVERHEAD AND SMALL BANDS OF SOLDIERS WERE ROAMING THE JUNGLE. ENEMY PLANES STRUCK THE PARACHUTE BATTALION'S SMALL CONVOY OF THREE APD'S AND AN LST AS IT UNLOADED AND PUT TWO BOMBS IN THE TANK LANDING SHIP "448" JUST AS IT WAS PREPARING TO BEACH. IT SANK IN SHALLOW WATER, WHICH ALLOWED MOST OF THE TROOPS TO MAKE IT ASHORE. BUT 14 PARATROOPERS DIED AND THE BATTALION LOST MOST OF IT'S SUPPLIES AND UNIT EQUIPMENT. ONCE ESTABLISHED IN CAMP, THE PARACHUTISTS CONDUCTUED PATROLS TO SEARCH FOR JAPANESES STRAGGLERS ON THE ISLAND. THE REST OF THE REGIMENT ARRIVED IN VELLA LAVELLA DURING THE LATTER PART OF OCTOBER.
October 1, 1943, LST 448 pulled into the harbor at Vella Lavella around 0730. We were going to use the island to stage our raid on Choiseul. We were bringing in ammo and supplies that would last for the 7 day raid, plus supplies for when we came back.
The LST dropped it's ramp and we started to disembark. I was on the ramp when a lone Japenese zero flew toward the ship coming in just over the coconut trees. He dropped two bombs. The first went right into the ships cargo area and the other ht the forward part of the ship, the explosion threw me into the water. i don't remember anything until two Seabees pulled me out of the water and dragged me to shore. The ship was roaring in flames as the first bomb hit a fuel tank. Sailors, Seabees and Marines were pulling wounded and dead out of the water and off the ship. Everyone thought it was going to blow up because of all the fuel and ammo on it. All the wounded were taken to a makeshift field hospital in a cave. My ears were ringing and the Doctor pulled a bunch of shrapnel out of my side. He stitched me up and sent me to a hospital tent for a few days to recuperate.
U.S.M.C., 2nd Parachute Battalion