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fire_mission_cover.jpgIn Fire Mission 42, Milton Royko recounts his experiences as a United States Marine Corps artilleryman in the South Pacific During World War II. The story traces his journey from hearing about the attack on Pearl Harbor, to the battles of New Britain, Peleliu and the invasion of Okinawa. From it, we hear first hand accounts of some of the most intense fighting in the Pacific Theater.

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Marines land on Peleliu, 1944

Introduction

Sept 15, 1994

I woke up this morning and felt it was a special day. My mind suddenly went back to fifty years ago when we had made the landing on Peleliu.  I thought about it piecing together various things about the landing and the kind of day it was.
 
That’s what prompted the urge to put down my memories on tape for someone to listen to later.  I went out to put up the flags, both the US and Marine Corp flag and thought about it again.  Maybe it was partly because we had attended the First Division Reunion commemorated the 50th anniversary of Peleliu and went back in memory to our reunion where we met our old friends.
 
As I looked around at the reunion and talked to our friends whom we knew so well I could see how old we were all getting.  If young people would come in and look at these people they would wonder how they could have won a war since a lot of them were balding, mostly gray, some fatter than others, some handicapped.  It’s amazing that they could have changed so much.
 
Some of the friends who sat at our table were Paul Stigall and his wife Lucy, Paul has a steel plate in his head from an injury during and air attach we had In Cape Gloucester, on January 2,, 1944. Then there was Jack Biggins and his wife Connie along with A.J. Walker and his wife Ann, from New Jersey, he was a few years older than we were nevertheless, we had become good friends. We discussed the past and present and enjoyed each others company.   These reunions were annual occasions with about 3000 people attending.  We always looked forward to it.
 

fire_mission_42151.jpgMilton Royko, 1942

At the reunions on Saturday mornings we had a very nice commemorative service with the First Marine Division Band present playing for us.  Always a high light!  In the evening they  held the regular religious services, Jewish, Catholic and Protestant.    We attended the Protestant service at which a Baptist Minister spoke in a very throaty voice and gave us food for thought with his substantive sermon and remembrances of  the people who lost their lives . The minister’s voice though hard to listen to, described how he had been shot thru the throat in Peleliu.  After his service in the Marines he had gone to Theological School, became a Baptist minister and had gone to Japan and been a missionary preacher there.  It was very interesting. Because of all the memories stirred up I decided to put my thoughts on tape, along with the urging of our daughter Gayle, and our son Mark. I would like to go into my experiences as I recall them before my memory fades away.