State veteran featured in ‘Voices of the Pacific’ book
His friend lay motionless for five hours while another Marine bled down on top of him. He had to remain silent as Japanese soldiers thrust bayonets into bodies collecting on the corral cluttered sand island in the South Pacific. Those who flinched, died.
That was just one of the first-hand accounts shared recently by Marine Jim F. Young, 91, a former resident of Galeton in Potter County, and one of 15 Marines whose memoirs and interviews were compiled into a book written by Adam Makos, formerly of Montoursville, and Marcus Brotherton.
Young, along with his wife of 50 years, Yvonne, were on hand to sign autographs of “Voices of the Pacific: Untold Stories from the Marine Heroes of World War II.”
The man who Young described – the late Sgt. Richard Carr, of Austin, Tex., also is in the book.
“He was scared to death,” Young said.
A line formed at Otto Book Store, 107 W. Fourth St., when Young and Makos recently signed autographs, shook hands and posed for photographs.
Although Young’s hearing and sight have deteriorated, he appeared to be in the moment, especially when the line of appreciative readers formed.
People thanked the Marine for his service.
More than 600 World War II veterans die each day, according to the World War II National Museum in Washington, D.C.
Terri Shaner, of Picture Rocks, held Makos’ book under her arm. She told the Marine her father, Sidney Sheets, also served in the war, taking part in the invasion of the Marshall Islands in the north Pacific. By the time the conflict was over, Sheets had earned two Purple Hearts.
Young spoke briefly to the Sun-Gazette about his time in war. “I enlisted the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked,” he said.
After hitchhiking from Mt. Joy to Philadelphia, standing for three hours in a recruiters’ line, Young was dispatched to Camp Lejeune, where he said rifles were not in abundance.
“We practiced with sticks,” he said. “We arrived on the ship the George F. Elliott, a Navy transport ship,” Young said.
Young was involved in three major invasions – Guadalcanal, New Britain and Peleliu.
Makos said the death rate on Guadalcanal was high, but not only from the enemy artillery. About 80 percent of the Marines and other soldiers contracted diseases.
Young pointed to a photograph in the book: “That’s me.”
Japanese soldiers manning machine gun pits on higher ground were strafing the beach.
“These weren’t foxholes,” he said. “They were made by mortars landing all around us.”
Makos said between the memoirs and interviews, the book came together. They were asked to share stories they never told their children or grandchildren, he said.
“You get the last word, we told them,” Makos said. “What do you want the world to hear, what bravery did you witness? What tragedy?”
Standing beside Young was his wife of 50 years, Yvonne, who said he hadn’t spoken about the war all of this time.
He spends his time at the American Legion with the guys.
“It’s two beers and talking to friends,” she said.
Young recalled meeting Makos about three years ago during a “premier red carpet showing of the HBO series ‘Pacific,’ in New Orleans, La.”
Makos said he discovered the exploits of the greatest generation at an early age and began writing about these heroes while attending Montoursville Area Middle School.
Young also was appreciative of Makos’ retelling the stories.
“I think it’s great,” Young said. “A lot of people don’t know about what went on and this will give them the real stuff.”