| James Troy: Grandfather and Hero
By: Amanda DiBona
I always knew that my grandfather, James Troy, was a hero to me and to my family, but I never realized that he was a hero to so many. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on November 10, 1942 and was trained in boot camp at Parris Island. After the completion of his training he was sent to Wellington, New Zealand and assigned to the Second Marine Division. He was quickly involved in some of the worst battles of the Second World War. My grandfather fought in the battles of Tarawa, Saipan, Tinian, and Okinawa, and was involved in the occupation of Nagasaki. I never realized how influential he was in the war, and the difference that he made in so many lives.
Tarawa:The battle of Tarawa was a pivotal accomplishment for the United States Marines in World War II. All of the people involved in the battle would agree that it was one of the bloodiest battles of the war. Tarawa was an extremely important acquisition because it would enable the United States to secure the airfield so the Japanese forces could not attack our forces. Tarawa was the main obstacle blocking the other islands in the Central Pacific such as, Siapan and Tinian. Once the Marines could capture Tarawa, it became much easier to gain access to the other islands for island hopping. It was crucial that Tarawa was taken unexpectedly in order to utilize surprise. During the battle because of the low tide, my grandfather’s boat could not get over the reefs and he and his troops had to fight waist deep in water, while the Japanese fired at them from the beach, and many did not make it ashore. They were pinned down on the beach behind a retaining wall made from coconut tree logs for several hours. The Marines then fought under brutal conditions for seventy- six hours, and finally came out the victors, though they suffered well over three thousand casualties.
After the Marines took Tarawa, “island hopping” became a successful tool to get from island to island quickly and safely. The battles of Saipan and Tinian are both perfect examples of island hopping at its best. Saipan and Tinian are sister islands that are within ten miles from one another. This closeness allowed the Marines to move quickly from one island to the next. If it were not for island hopping, travel would have been much more lengthy and dangerous, and the longer time could have resulted in catastrophe for many. By island hopping the American forces were able to be selective about which islands to attack, and skip other islands that did not hold as much as importance. Saipan was a key island for the United States to acquire because it held an important air field from which the United States would have perfect access for bombing Japan. There was fierce fighting on the island, including hand to hand combat. During the Saipan operation, my grandfather volunteered to go five hundred yards beyond the front lines and establish an observation post from which he assisted in directing artillery fire which destroyed an enemy landing force. As a result of that action he was awarded the Navy Commendation. Once the island was secured, it put the United States in bombing range of Japan. Then the Marines traveled ten miles across the water to Tinian. Once they arrived they used the tactic of diversionary attack. This meant that they faked a landing on one side of the island with empty boats which drew the Japanese forces over to defend that side of the island. The Marines were on the other side and were able to land and obtain the element of surprise with few casualties. They were able to secure the island in ten days.
Okinawa was the front door to Japan. It was then last remaining defense of the main island. Okinawa was different from other battles because of the use of Kamikaze planes on a larger scale, and the U.S. forces encountered rocket fire from the Japanese which they had not yet seen.
Occupation of Nagasaki:
After the battle of Okinawa, the second Marine division returned to Saipan to regroup and train replacements. In the meantime, the Japanese surrendered and the second Marine Division was activated as one of the initial forces which occupied Japan. My grandfather landed at Nagasaki where the second atom bomb was dropped. As they approached the harbor prior to the landing they observed white flags at different points on the land which indicated gun emplacements. It was speculated that had they had to fight their way to Nagasaki, the guns would have taken a large toll of American lives. When he reached the sight of the area where the atom bomb was dropped, he saw nothing but devastation. There was noting but framework where the buildings used to stand, the area was reduced to rubble. As the initial occupation force, the Marines were unknowingly subjected to radiation from the atom bomb. During the occupation my grandfather was put in charge of a military police unit until he returned to the United States.
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