Complete Chronology of WWII Service in the USMC

World War II Diary
A True Record
Patrick L. Finelli, USMC

19 Feb., 1943

Boston, Mass:

  • Enlisted in the Marine Corps.

Feb. – June, 1943

Parris Island, South Carolina:

  • Boot Camp, Platoon 172, 4th Batallion

  • Promoted to PFC upon graduation

June – Sept., 1943

Norman, Oklahoma:

  • USNTTC Aviation Ordnance School (From MCAS, Cherry Point, North

  • Promoted to Corporal upon graduation

Sept. – Oct, 1943

Miramar, Kearney Mesa, San Diego, Calif:

  • Waiting for garrison assignment, Marine Aviation

Oct. – Feb., 1944

MCAS, Goleta, Calif (Santa Barbara):

  • MAG. 42, Ordnance Battalion

Feb. – April, 1944

North Island, Coronado Naval Base, Calif:

  • Bomb Disposal, Explosive Demolitions School

April, 1944

Goleta, Calif:

  • Transfer to newly formed MAG 45. Prepare for overseas departure.

  • Promoted to Sergeant.

June, 1944

  • Sent to special training on new weapons – Aircraft Rockets at
    Salton Sea, Mohave Desert.

July, 1944

Flown out as part of small, advance group.

  • San Diego, Pearl Harbor, Johnston’s Island, Kwajalien to final destination – Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands.

July 1944

  • Joined up with a few marines, some volunteers from the Fleet and a couple of Army Engineers. We were to undergo some training in clearing underwater obstacles.
  • Assigned to Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion, V Marine Amphibious Corp (2 officers, 2 non-commissioned with demolition training and good swimmers).
  • Assigned to train with newly formed UDT specialists.
  • Trained by an OSS team.
  • Harbor very crowded.  3rd Marine Division and Invasion Force for Guam Battle is here.
  • Invasion Force left July 6, “W” day, July 21, 1944.

July – 25 August, 1944

  • Eniwetok, Marshall Islands
  • Very rugged training.
  • Test swim in Ocean, 2000 yards in an hour wearing field uniforms. (dungarees, shoes, helmet, pack, rifle, cartridge belt)

  • CB’s would build exact duplicates of beach head obstacles and on-shore pill boxes. We would then experiment with best shot-loads to blow them up.

  • Learned insertion – extraction techniques, survival swimming, day and night recon and
    hydrographic measuring.

26 August, 1944

  • Finished training, left Eniwetok  to join the 1st Marine Division in the Western Caroline Islands.

1 Sept., 1944

On board the USS Clemson (APD-31), a converted destroyer, after mid-ocean transfer.

  • Capt. Sweet and I are temporarily attached to UDT-6, Lt. Langsdon commanding. Capt. Sweet would be a boat observer (LCVP) and I would be a swimmer. Lt. Langsdon briefed us as follows:

  • Target is Pelelieu and Anguar for Teams 6, 7, 8, 10 & “ABLE.”

  • LST’s left Guadalcanal 4 Sept. 44.
  • APA’s (troops) and AKA’s (supplies left 8 Sept. ’44.
  • Command will be on the Mount McKinley under Admiral Fort.

  • Landing Control Ship is D.D. Hazlewood

  • Hospital Ships, if needed, are the Pinkney and Tyron.

  • 4th Marine Division Intelligence found the complete Japanese Order of Battle for Peleliu by Lt. Gen. Inoue while capturing Saipan in the Marianas.

11 Sept., 1944

  • Battle Fleet arrives and pre-assault bombardment begins.
  • Pelileu covered with smoke, no return fire. Weather is good.

12 Sept., 1944

  • Bad news, collision at sea! Destroyer Fullam (DD-474) rammed into the
    stern of the Noa (APD-24) carrying Team ABLE. The Noa sunk with the Team’s explosives
    but the LCVP’s were saved. There were several other collisions between bigger ships.
  • Team 6 will pick up “ABLE’s” assignment.

12 Sept., 1944

Special tasks as follows:

  • Team 6, Orange Beaches 1, 2 & 3; 5th & 7th Marines.

  • Team 7, White 1 & 2, 1st Marines.

  • Team 8, Decoy at Anguar.
  • Team 10, Support 81st Division, 323 RCT @ Ulithi.

Around noon and under fire cover:

  • Teams 6 & 7 scout the beaches, many obstacles.
  • Navy fighters strafe the beaches to protect us from snipers.
  • Much sniper fire, tide is low,water is shallow, weather clear, some clouds, very hot, lots of
    “black” coral.

13 Sept., 1944

Got our explosive assignments:

    • Team 6 prepared pathways for DUKW’s and Tanks over Orange 2 & 3.

    • Cautioned to not leave any deep holes.

    • Swim from about 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    • Much sniper fire, very hot, shallow water.

    • A destroyer came in to give us fire cover.

14 Sept., 1944

We continue beach head demolitions:

  • Invasion Fleet arrives, ships as far as you can see.

  • Midnight to 6 a.m., no fire cover.

  • Noon to 4 p.m., good fire cover.

  • Found many 2-horned anti-ship mines laced to horned scullies and coral cairns. They were 100 lb. Type 98, set out about 100 yds from the beach. Some of them were not armed, the safety pin wasn’t pulled and they were not there the day before. The Japanese had to have their own swimmers. Amazingly, they had also buried some aircraft bombs in the beach with pressure fuses. We also found fuel drums laced to the fringing
    coral. The Japanese had to work like hell to get that done so quickly.

15 Sept., 1944

    • Final beach clearing, “D” day, “H” hour is 8:30 a.m.
    • Today is Friday, sea is calm, no surf, few clouds, excellent weather, but hot.
  • Assault waves forming since 4 a.m.
  • Noise is deafening, smell is stifling.
  • First 3 assault waves were devastated, a great many LVT’s destroyed.
  • Beach head is chaotic, little penetration, succeeding waves beginning to clog area.
  • We are asked to help clear the beach head.
  • Marines are relentlessly landing at 8 minute intervals.

16 Sept., 1944

  • Re-called by Marines to work demolitions on shore. Reported to CP,
    “A” Co., 1st Pioneers. Sent up to front to 3rd Bn, 1st Marines, “K” (King) Co. Spent the next 5 days with them clearing caves, pillboxes, mines and duds.

 21 Sept., 1944

  • Today is my birthday. I am a beat-up 20 yr old Marine Sergeant in my first combat, praying for survival.
  • Continued demolitions with “C” Co., 1st Pioneers for another five days supporting 2nd Bn, 7th Marines “K”

26 Sept., 1944

  • Got bayonetted by Japanese while sealing caves with satchel charges and Bangalore torpedoes in Bloody Nose Ridge (Umurbrogol Mountain).
  • Air evacuated to Guam, then again by air back to the Naval Hospital #10, Aiea Heights, Pearl Harbor.

Oct. – Dec., 1944

  • Recuperate. Lost 35 lbs in less than a month, a combination of heat, lack of food and little sleep.

Jan. 1945

Fully recovered for return to Active Duty.

  • Flown back to Western Carolines, rejoin MAG – 45 at Ulithi whose
  • Job was to protect the Fleet anchorage and the Atoll (Falalop, Asor, Mog-mog).
  • My new assignment was to sanitize the battle fields, dispose of whatever
    ordnance still lying or buried around.

Jan. – Sept., 1945

Did bomb, mine and shell disposal all over the central Pacific

  • Guam, Fais, Roi, Engebi, Namur, Majuro, Tarawa, Kwajalein, Eniwetok,
  • Peleliu and finally, at war’s end, Yap. Promoted to S/SGT.

April, 1945

Ulithi, Western Carolines:

  • LST towed down from Okinawa battle. Abandoned because of unexploded
    bombs. LST is badly burned, many Marine/Navy dead. Two of us get the assignment to examine
    and locate the duds. The LST is off by itself, tied by lines to anchored pontoons. We get
    on board, the stench is stomach-turning, and do the search. We find 3 unexploded 100 lb
    bombs, fuses intact. One is into an amtrack on the main deck, another is wedged between
    bulkheads and the last one is deep into the crew’s quarters. It was decided to defuse
    the bombs so that the bodies and equipment could be recovered. We then returned to the LST
    and did the job.

Sept., 1945


  • Sent to Yap as part of “sanitizing” team to prepare the Island
    for U.S. Military Govt. Cleared minefields, exploded armament and munitions, cleared booby
    traps. We were first Marines ever on Yap.
  • I was injured (concussion) at Yap, hospitalized at Ulithi, flown to Guam
  • (Naval Hospital #103), then by Hospital Ship to Oak Knoll, Oakland Calif, finally by
    Hospital Train cross country to Chelsea Naval Hospital, Mass.
  • While at Guam, I had written my brother Tony, serving on LST #871, not
    to write anymore because I would be going home. His ship was just arriving Guam from
    Okinawa when he got my letter. He was able to get to the hospital and we spent several
    days together. We had not seen each other since Feb. 1943.

Jan. 1946

  • Recuperate, surgery and TLC at Chelsea Naval Hospital.

March 1946

  • Marine Barracks, Charlestown Navy yard.
  • Guard duty until discharge.

26 March, 1946

  • Discharged (Honorable) with medical compensation for service incurred

June 1946

  • Accepted into Marine Corps Standby Reserve.
  • Served 4 years.