Cerro Gordo County Iowa
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The Globe Gazette|
Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
Thursday, February 25, 1943, Page 5
EXPERIENCES IN SOLOMONS
Leatherneck Returns to Mainland
Because of Shrapnel Wounds
CLEAR LAKE - The sight of two U. S. marines lying dead on the beach near Tulagi, Solomon islands, with their throats slit, made Lloyd LYON, former Clear Lake man, "plenty mad" at the Japs and he fought them for all he was worth from then on until they finally "got" him in November, LYON told reporters of the Miami Daily News, Miami, Fla., recently.
LYON, a leatherneck, landed in the Solomons last Aug. 8 and will never forget the sight of his two compatriots, both of whom had been but slightly wounded by gunfire, so ruthlessly murdered. LYON is now recuperating from his wounds from shrapnel at the home of his mother, Mrs. May LYON, 783 Northwest Thirty-ninth street, Miami. He was evacuated from his post for hospitalization last November, spent Christmas in an army hospital in the Fiji islands and arrived in the United States Jan. 17.
LYON, a native of Des Moines, came to Clear Lake as a young lad, was graduated from Clear Lake high school, attended the University of Iowa for a time and enlisted in 1940 in the Royal Canadian air forces as a combat pilot. While in training an automobile accident "grounded" him and he returned to Clear Lake for a time.
Eleven days after Pearl Harbor he enlisted in the marines and was sent overseas last July. Landing with the first leathernecks in the Solomons he expected to be there only a few hours but stayed also three months.
Here is his story:
"I hadn't even a toothbrush so used the brush I cleaned my rifle with and strong soap or salt with my mouthwash. My mess gear was a cup and spoon. I used the cup to dig foxholes and also drank from it.
"I slept in a cemetery the first night. It was raining cats and dogs. We dug our foxholes deep because we didn't know how soon the Japs might start shelling. Next morning I awoke to find only my head above water."
Private LYON'S outfit, based on Tulagi, sailed to other islands as needed as action dictated.
"Once we had to leave Gavata in a hurry and decided to swim to Tahugi, a half-mile away. One lad couldn't swim so hid under the pier all night and gave himself up in the morning. The bandy-legged Nips threw him alive into a huge oil-dump our shells had set ablaze."
"On Guadalcanal we received orders to wipe out a Jap radio setup and started out from our bivouac, a rough collection of native huts we called 'Aloha' in a driving rain at 10 o'clock at night. The darkness was so intense you could almost hear it.
"Our guides knew every inch of the terrain and we hung to each other's belts as we followed a winding path through the morass. Once I misstepped and went to my hips in the goo. We arrived at the Jap's camp about dawn and gave them a complete surprise. Even the sentries were inside because of the rain. We counted 31 bodies and 33 sleeping bags so but two got away.
"Another time a private from Dakota names Brian was sleeping near me on the beach. We had surrounded some Japs who tried to break through and one of them sneaked up on Brian who awoke to find the Jap lunging at him with a bayonet.
"Brian, who was lying on his back, brought both knees up to his chest and let the Jap have both feet in his face. Even then, Brian got a bayonet through one leg and a bullet in the other. But we got the Jap.
"Most of the Japs we saw were of the Imperial marines and averaged from four to six inches more in height than the regular Jap soldiers. Many of them were more than six feet tall."
In telling of the action in which he was wounded, Private LYON said, "We were ordered to push some Japs back across a river to put their guns beyond range of our airfield. We had them between the ocean and a bluff 1,000 yards inshore. When we were within 200 yards of the river they opened up with machine gun and mortars.
"We hit the deck and I got behind a fallen tree trunk but a mortar shell landed on the other side and a piece of shrapnel flew right through the tree, taking a piece out of my arm, penetrating a candy bar in my pocket and landing in my chest.
"It felt as though a horse had kicked me but it wasn't deep and I pulled the splinter out. My arm bled badly and my commanding officer, who was 50 feet behind me, crawled over with bandages. He sat with my head in his lap in the thick of the worst fire I've ever seen and applied a tourniquet to my arm. He poured sulpha powder in the wounds and bandaged them."
"When a shell struck a bush which then fell upon us, the lieutenant just lifted it off and went on bandaging. Thanks to his quick work and absolute disregard of danger - his name was SCHWANER and he was from Jefferson Parish, La., I'm here to tell about it. It was the bravest act I saw in three months in the Solomons."
Mrs. LYON writes that her son still has his arm dressed at Miami navy hospital two or three times a week but seems to feel fairly well. Mrs. LYON and daughter, Miss Helen, who left Clear Lake late in December, are both fine.
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, April of 2013
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