Dan Marsh thru the years

 Daniel Z. Marsh was born on July 1st, 1921 and died on July 27th, 2008.

Like all American kids of his generation he was a child of the Great Depression. He grew up in a level of poverty that no one alive today can really understand unless they lived through it or are from a 3rd world country.

Those very hard times shaped a generation, and taught them that hard work was indispensable to life.

He was a good student and enjoyed debate in High School. As seen below from his year book they were debating how the United States should react to the events in Europe and Asia as Germany, Italy and Japan started the events which would lead to WW2.

Dad Debate smallHis adult life was book-ended what would prove to be the second of the four great forces that would shape his life – the United States Marine Corps.

I doubt Dad had much interest in the Corps until December 7th, 1941. Once he knew we had been attacked by Japan, like most young men of his generation he rushed to sign up! As things turned out he had to wait to get someone to sign for him as he was slightly underage. But sign up he did, with the Marines, because he had heard that’s where the action was going to be, and he wanted to fight!

After basic and advanced training, he heard about this new group being formed. They would be the first to fight, would fight behind the lines, and were hand selecting only the best. Dad interviewed and was selected to become a Raider. He ended up in the 4th Raider Battalion, with President Roosevelt’s son Jimmy as his first Battalion commander.

The fourth Raiders fought in New Georgia campaign, and the Raiders were disbanded in February of 1944. They were formed into the 4th Marine Regiment, and fought in the liberation of Guam, then became part of the 6th Marine Division and fought in what was arguably the worst battle of WW2 – Okinawa.

The 4th Marines were the first troops to land in Japan after the surrender.  I won’t add to these events here as Dad wrote his own history of the Raiders in World War Two. You can read it starting here or in his book. Below is the certificate he received proving he was present at the surrender ceremony for Japan.

He arrived home and on a blind date met the third force that shaped his life, a young woman named Florence. As it turns out he would end up spending the next 62 years of his life with her. They were married quickly and set up housekeeping as best they could.

Their first child Karen was born, and things were going pretty well. To help make some extra money Dad joined the Marine Corps Reserve, because all you had to do was meet once a month, unless something happened. And after all - what could happen?

The Korean War is what happened  Dad was called back into service and almost as soon as he arrived in Camp Pendleton was shipped off overseas. He arrived to late for the invasion at Inchon, but did join A Company, first battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division just in time to invade North Korea.

Dad fought throughout the infamous Chosin Reservoir  Campaign. About 10 Communist Chinese division surrounded the 5th and 7th Marines, along with other allied forces. They performed an unbelievably heroic fighting withdrawal down one mountain road.

There was one critical mountain peak that had to be taken to free them and allow them to rejoin the 1st Marines, who were fighting just south of them. In a bloody two day assault Dad’s company took the peak named Hill 1080. Dad continued fighting in Korea for several months before coming home.

While he was there Monica was born. After his return business picked up as he now had two children and a wife, and slightly less than two years later added a son to the mix – me!

He was working for the Bell System, at the time the only phone company in the country. He was moved to Arizona, and what a move it was!  He went first leaving me as head of the household. Somehow we survived that and went on to prosper in here in the desert.

All three of us kids kept on growing, and gradually we began to be drawn back to God. We had gone to church in Indiana, but it was here in Phoenix that we would give our lives to Christ.

It was at this point where he encountered his fourth life shaping influence – Jesus Christ. He worked out of town most weeks at that time. One week he came back on Friday a changed man. He told me he had seen all the hippies up in Prescott that weekend, and knew they needed someone who could reach out and help them. He had read the entire New Testament during that week. Christ began to work in his life. Soon after that he had a divine encounter with Christ as a bright life in his room.

So on Mother’s Day, in a complete surprise to Mom but not to me, who he had told about this before hand, he went to church. Not only that, but at the end of the message he grabbed Mom’s hand and said, “Come on Flo!” He went forward to rededicate his life to Christ, Mom rejoiced, and all the kids in the Youth Group who had been praying for him for four years, whooped and hollered too!

Dad took his faith seriously, read and studied the Bible like a scholar, collected commentaries and really grew in his faith. I know he was an inspiration to me.

Throughout all this time Dad didn’t talk much about his war experience. But as he grew older he did a little. Finally a great day came, when we were contacted by a group we didn’t know existed – the United States Marine Raider Association.

Dad was thrilled! Sometime after that Mom, Dad and I went to our first Raider Reunion, held that year in Minneapolis Minnesota. He had a wonderful time and was accompanied by his wife Florence and Louie. He even managed to win the door prze about which he said, “I’ve never won anything in my whole stupid life!”

After years of trying Louie finally managed to nag Dan into overcoming his innate shyness he wrote the basis for the first ever website on the internet to be dedicated to the Raiders.

During his final years he was kept busy answering e-mails sent in from the site about the Raiders, helping people find information about what their relatives did in World War Two, and to help Keep the Legacy of the Raiders alive.

After a month long struggle Dan Marsh died in July of 2008

Dan’s beloved wife Florence M. Marsh passed away February 9, 2010. She was born in Brazil, IN and moved with her family to Arizona in 1958. Both she and Dan were survived by her loving daughters Karen Marsh of Phoenix, Monica Wellauer of Mesa, son Louie Marsh of Parker, a sister Hila Crawley of Indiana and two grandchildren. Florence will be remembered by all who loved her for her sweet and caring spirit, strong faith in God and devotion to her husband and children.

Today their mortal remains are interred in the same spot at the national Memorial Cemetery of Arizona, 23029 N. Cave Creek Road.

Mom & Dad's Grave Site