My name is Marshal Rosenthal and I served in the Marines during WWII. I had graduated high school when WWII broke out on December 7, 1941. I was working at a gas station at the time and received a letter from Franklin Roosevelt giving me my options to go into one of the several branches of the military. I wanted to go into the navy initially, but for my mother, I chose the Marines because I thought I was tough. I wanted to fight, and I wanted to be somebody. She didn’t come to see me at Camp Pendelton before I went overseas; only my aunt. I was a bit hurt by that; I didn’t know at the time if I was ever going to see her again.
I went down to San Diego and had my boot Furlow, then I went to Camp Pendelton. I got some training there again, then went to Camp Matthews. We boarded a ship in the latter part of ‘44 and spent Christmas and New Year’s at Pearl Harbor before heading off to Okinawa.
We landed at Naha airstrip on the north side of Okinawa. Since the 10th army had wiped out most of the northern parts during the Battle of Okinawa, there wasn’t much to do though there was still a lot of combat happening. I had to kill too many people for my liking; I still remember my first time killing a kamikaze pilot and being sick to my stomach for the rest of the day. It was a kill or be killed world out there
I was then part of a detachment of the 2nd marine division and we went over to Guam where there was no fighting. While we were there, America dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan. I still remember hearing all the news about Roosevelt’s failing health and Truman’s weighty decisions.
I got transferred to the 6th division pioneer battalion in 1945, in Qingdao, China for mostly guard-duty. I still remember the bitter cold we faced during those 11 months. I was finally discharged in December of 1946 and came home. I worked in a cannery for some time. I received some offers to attend San Jose State under the GI Bill, but I wanted to go to work. I then worked for the San Jose parks department. I’m the only living member of that original community since most of them passed away in their 60s.
I would most definitely do it again. I’ve never not been proud of having been a marine, and I am still in regular contact with the community. They were the best community I could have asked for.