Thanksgiving and Christmas on Bougainville 1943

I was on the Piva Trail Roadblock November 8th, 1943 and in a water filled foxhole for 16 hours, when the Japs would fire their knee mortars we would duck under the water. Sgt. Ignatius Gorak was killed during the night and several boys were wounded. We had a handful of turkey on the evening of the 24th, on the 25th Thanksgiving day we had a little turkey to eat on the front line. On the 26th we had a helmet full of turkey for the nine of us who were left of our ten man squad and it tasted good. We came off the front line November 28th to a rest area. December 3rd we carried rolls of barbed wire up to the front by the volcano to build an A-Frame with a machine gun at each end. Then back on the front line in a few days. We were on the front line Christmas Day 1943 and didn’t even realize it was Christmas. December 26th Jim P. Trent was wounded, December 27th James P. Kelso and Charles J. Cain were killed by artillery shells on the front line at the foot of the volcano. The Raiders established a beachhead so an airfield could be built. The Japs that weren’t killed were left there until the end of the war. I carried a BAR November 1st, 1943 until January 12th 1944.

Ray (Louis Raymond) Merrell – 2nd Marine Raider Bn. – Company H – 1st Marine Brigade on Guam July 21st, 1944 37mm Weapons Company – 6th Marine Division on Okinawa April 1, 1945 Weapons Company – Japan August 30, 1945 – Home December 13th, 1945 – Married April 21, 1946 for 60 years next April!

Ray Merrell

Sgt Grit wants to hear from you! Leave your comments below or submit your own story!

Sgt Grit wants to hear from you! Leave your comments below or submit your own story!

7 comments


  • Wayne Dillon

    Always great hearing from Marine Raider Ray Merrell! Semper Fi and Merry Christmas, sir!


  • Cpl Casey Kaczmarek

    Mr. Merrell, Thank you! I joined the Corps because of my hero worship of the Marines in the second world war.


  • Brian Stephan

    Thank you Ray for your service, my dad was in the 6th Division on Oki. , went to China after got out in 47′ , had 3 sons , all 3 of us became Marines.


  • C. F. Larkin

    I was 70 days old on Nov 8, 1943. Because of men and women like you, I have become a husband, father and grandfather. There are no words to describe how much I appreciate and am thankful for the sacrifices made during that period


  • Leonard Barnett

    Thank you for everything you gave up for us all living here today. I would like to meet you someday. Semper Fi Marine.


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