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"My most memorable moment was the day I died" (Audio Interview, 2:28)

   William H. Whorf
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War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Marine Corps
Unit: H Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment
Service Location: Quantico, Virginia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Guadalcanal (Solomon Islands); Australia; Boston, Massachusetts; South America
Rank: Captain
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William Whorf participated in the battle of Tenaru during the conflict on Guadalcanal. His searing account of that battle and of the tremendous losses that the Japanese suffered reflect the elation that the troops felt in victory. His account of two Japanese soldiers who suffered different fates during the battle is a fascinating look at human frailty in the face of the horrors of war. Whorf says that these different fates were "the worst thing that could happen to a human being and the finest thing that could happen to a human being." One soldier launched himself against an anti-tank gun that killed his fellow soldiers and was torn into two pieces after grabbing the muzzle; the other emerged from the bodies of his fellow soldiers in order to surrender.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (3 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: audio (14 min.)
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 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (3 items)
Not enough men coming in to replace those going home, so there was a draw to determine who would be able to return. (00:47) Battle of the Tenaru and two Japanese soldiers who suffered different fates during the battle. (03:52) Being reprimanded on his first day in the service for calling his rifle a "gun." (15:00)

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  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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