Jack Maroney

Years ago I worked at the Essex House Hotel in New York City. They had a doorman there named Jack Maroney. He was an older man and prone to drink a bit too much. In fact, every break you would find him over at P.J. Carney’s Pub. Sometimes he’d be there when he should have been at the front door. Good Ol’ Jack, he always had a good story to tell you. One day out of the blue Jack starts telling me about his days as a Marine. I didn’t know you were a Marine, I said to him. Oh, sure he says, I was on Guadalcanal. Now, I’ve heard of Guadalcanal. I knew it was a battle that took place in World War II. But, I didn’t really know much about it back then. Jack filled me in. He told about the knee deep mud and giant insects, of how they would lay awake all night for fear that if they should close their eyes for a moment some jap would jump in their fox holes and cut their throats. He talked about the unrelenting artillery fire and waves of japs in banzai charges and mowing them down to the last man. But the saddest thing he witnessed in the whole war, he recounted, was when the U.S. Navy left them. They just picked up one day and left us Marines all alone on that stinkin island, he said. What jack was referring to was the strategic withdrawal of the Navy’s transport and supply ships from the waters around Guadalcanal. They did this because they didn’t have enough war ships to protect them. So they moved them far enough away so the Japanese Navy couldn’t destroy them. This of course left the Marines on the island without fresh supplies and above all no reinforcements. Whatever they had they had to make do with. But it looked to the men as if their country had left them to die out there. Jack said that he looked around and every one of the men had tears in their eyes as they watched the ships sail off. In the weeks that followed they lived off a supply of rice captured from the japs. When that ran out they ate rats and any other living creature they found, even insects. They sent men down to the beach to scavenge for fish killed by the artillery fire from the nightly naval battles. But the Marines endured it all. Because that’s what Marines do. Semper Phi Jack.

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