Read The Book

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.

This book is a free download.




When I was a kid, my dad would tell me stories about his life during WWII that were as good  as any Indiana Jones movie.

They had everything: impossible missions; errant dive bombers; the big battles on New Britain, Peleliu and Okinawa; bizarre happenings; crazy luck; terrifying brushes with death. It was heady stuff for me to hear, but it must have been even more unreal to live.

My father grew up in Chicago, near 18th and Halsted. He enlisted in the Marine Corp shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, at the age of 17.

Soon afterwards, he found himself on a train for Camp Pendleton, CA, where he attended boot camp and shipped off to the South Pacific with the Marine First Division.

That unit endured some of the heaviest combat during World War Two, and of course, took some of the heaviest losses. Somehow, my father made it through the invasion of New Britain, the nightmare of Peliliu, to the D-Day like landing at Okinawa.

A few years ago, my dad decided to dictate his remembrances into a tape recorder so they'd be saved for posterity. (He suffers from macular dengeration and is unable to use a computer, so dictating them was his only option.) My mother then spent months transcribing them into the written word, and soon after, they printed the work as a book, Fire Mission '42. Since it was self-published, only a few copies of the book were made, but I wanted it to be available to anyone interested.

This website is an attempt to preserve these stories of a first-hand account of an amazing chapter of US history. When possible, I've included links, maps and photos to help illustrate the chapters. (I've included a list of resources I used to help with these illustrations.)

I've taken some liberties with the organization of the book. To make the site easier to navigate, I broke some of the content into smaller sections (especially the battles of Cape Goucester, Peliliu and Okinawa), but I haven't changed any of the text.

Please feel free to download the PDF and read the full book at your leisure. If you would like to contribute to this website through graphics, photos or additional information, please feel free to contact us. We look forward to hearing your stories.

—Mark Royko
August 2009


Anonymous wrote 2 years 19 weeks ago

boot camp rifle training

The paragraph about the original rifle instructor was a complete shock. The Marine you described was my uncle Lt Joseph A.L Fournier. He was KIA in Peleliu at the time he was CO of Co. G,2nd Bn, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division. The time frame fits perfectly as my uncle was an instructor for the Ninth Marines (under Col Lemeul Shepherd) while attending OCS. When commissioned he served with the 4th Raider Bn. Then he was one of two officers to head the Raider Training Center. (time frame Aug 42 - May 43) Information on training led me to your father's site - love it. Lt Fournier received the Navy Cross for Peleliu, the Bronze Star with valor for pre-invasion actions in Cape Gloucestor, and two Purple Hearts. If you contact me I will be happy to scan a picture of my French Canadian (and indeed Indian blood somewhere along the way) uncle as both an enlisted Marine and an officer. I am presently writing a biography on uncle "Adelard" for our family. Pat Lavarnway email

Anonymous wrote 3 years 10 weeks ago

WWII Veterans

My father was a Marine in the pacific during 1944-45. I wish he'd dictated something or even been able to talk about his experiences. I've only read excerpts so far but like what I've raed.


Anonymous wrote 3 years 34 weeks ago

Thank you!

Love reading first hand accounts from members of the Greatest Generation. My father is a Korean War vet, and my God Father was a Marine (4th Marines, fought at Saipan and Tinian). Thank you for your service!! Oohrah!

Anonymous wrote 7 years 52 weeks ago

Terrific Site!

Wow, terrific site! Thanks to your work, I was able to confirm a story told to me by another Marine who served on Pavuvu during WWII. There should be more sites like this on the Net!

Shane K. Bernard, Ph.D.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

Re: Firemission '42 Milton Royko

Thank you for your comment 6 years and 48 weeks ago.

I am Milton's wife and on occasion pull the actual book out and am entertained always. Now particularly since the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor is upon us it seems appropriate to relive the past. Milt had one of those photographic minds and loved to share experiences. He passed away in June of 2010.
Thank you for your kind comments.

Anna M. Royko