June 1944 – August 1944
June 1944. After several days at sea, we were told that we were sailing for Saipan in the Mariana Islands. We were optimistic, ready to fight, with the belief we were invincible, and would quickly bring the Japanese to their knees. I did not go ashore the first day but could watch the invasion from the deck of the ship. The Marines were first to engage the enemy and watching the landing craft closing in on their target in the half daylight of the rising sun, sent strange hard to describe feelings through me. Sometime later the wounded were brought to our ship in great numbers, more than could be immediately treated. Some were out of their minds and ran around the deck diving under anything they could see, fearful like terrified deer. Others came to the ship side in amphibious vehicles with wounded aboard hoping someone could rescue them. Some of the vessels I saw suddenly sank taking all aboard with them. The next day I loaded our battalion clerks into a vehicle called a Duck, which could navigate on water or ground, and drove for the beach. Read my short story “Mercy or Mission” in which I had to make a decision against my orders, but it saved a soldier’s life. Somehow I found my battalion headquarters. My job was to maintain individual service records and record the missing, wounded, and killed.
On Saipan, I met with my brother Dick and with Jack Conklin, a teenage friend from Minatare, Nebraska, who was a photographer with the Army Air Force. Dick was wounded when shrapnel from a nearby grenade hit his legs, back, and buttocks during a Japanese banzai attack.-Harold Moss