Hold High the Torch – the Fourth Marines
The transition from the four Raider Battalions to the Fourth Marines was not complicated, difficult or particularly significant to the Raiders. They were marines before they volunteered to pay the price of becoming a Raider. There were many changes of course, including the size and organization from regiment to squad. The addition of heavy supporting arms and various combat and service commands was also new. However, the one most essential component did not change -the Raiders. They continued to do what had become an integral part of their being. "Work together" and "look out for the man on your right and the man on your left."
I do not question the decision of the Commandant to deactivate the Raiders. To the critics however, who eagerly cheered the Raiders demise out of professional jealousy, I have this to say in the language of the Borg:
WE ARE RAIDERS ------YOU WILL NOT BE ASSIMILATED
NOTE: During the period of reorganization two events occurred that affected me personally.
One: I was volunteered to attend a school sponsored by Third Corps I believe, concerning the use of demolitions, Rocket Launchers and the new type Flame Throwers becoming available. I found the school very interesting. We were instructed on the use of various types of demolitions, including 20 pound shape charges, factory prepared satchel charges and the many uses of plastic explosives. We also learned how to use and maintain the Flamethrower as well as prepare the napalm fuel they used. It was amazing to see a 20 pound shape charge, that was placed 100 feet from a palm tree, cut it off at the knee’s when it was detonated. The knowledge gained at the school would serve me well in the future.
Two: For reasons no longer important I was in process of being transferred when the alert for the Emirau operation was announced. My memory is vague about this but I was temporarily assigned to Headquarters Company during the Emirau invasion. When the regiment returned to Guadalcanal I was assigned to K Company, Third Battalion.
The officers and men of the Raiders however had considerable assimilating to accomplish. All levels of command from regiment to squad had to be restructured to comply with the standard table of organization for a marine infantry regiment. The Raiders, as always, committed themselves to the task at hand with great energy and the Fourth Marines were soon combat ready. Little did anyone realize that a new mission was already on the horizon.
During our reorganization and training the rumor persisted that we were preparing for an assault on Kavieng, New Ireland. This appeared very logical as the next move up the Solomon’s. We learned however, that the decision had been made to bypass Kavieng. The Fourth Marines, as a part of the new strategy, would seize the island of Emirau a part of the St. Mathias Islands. Once the island was secured, airfields would be constructed to eliminate any threat New Ireland might have upon sea, land or air operations.
On very short notice the regiment prepared, loaded out and made a picture perfect landing on Emirau 1 March. There was no resistance and the island was quickly secured. The only problem encountered that I recall, was the lack of fresh water on the island. Water discipline was required of course, until the CB’s were established ashore, and could supply the demand from their fresh water producing equipment. The regiment was engaged in providing the necessary security, patrolling and investigating some small islands nearby. I was in charge of a small detachment guarding the chow dump. The boxes were piled high in a great heap, and those on watch liked to stand on top and enjoy the view. I was reminded of a large cow, standing atop a large heap of manure, signifying that he was king of the hill. The regiment’s mission was completed in early April and we returned to our base camp at Tassafaronga, Guadalcanal. Soon after our return, my transfer was processed, and I became a part of K Company for the duration of the war.
When I joined K Company it was at full strength. Therefore I was assigned to Company Headquarters and was in what could be called a holding pattern. I soon learned that I was serving under one of the finest officers in the Marine Corps, who possessed a gift of leadership that is very uncommon. The Third Battalion was the old 3rd Raiders and they called their commander Captain Martin J. Sexton, "Stormy." I was soon to learn why.