Sully-n-Friends...

This is a picture that was taken about 4:00 PM on August 3, 1950 showing the troops of D Company, 2d Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Provisional Marine Brigade. The figure in front just happens to be me.

Ever since the affair of Floyd Gibbons at Belleau Wood during WW I the US Army has had a hard on for its fellow belligerent, the U. S. Marine Corps. Seems that word had reached the censors in Paris that newspaper Correspondent Floyd Gibbons had been critically wounded and would probably die. Censors had been told by their bosses that, while they could talk about battle actions, there would be no identification as to who those troops were. Floyd's dispatches violated this rule. Given the circumstances of Floyd's impending death, the censors had decided to let his "last" dispatches through uncensored. Those dispatches praised the fighting ability of Marines. This was in direct violation of the orders the censors were given by General Pershing.

In this instance, General Pershing was livid with rage and not in the least amused. He accused the Marine Corps as being the agency that intentionally violated his orders. Carried to the extreme, it has been written that this incident caused the Marine Corps to be restricted to the Pacific Area of Operations during WW II instead of being admitted to the plushier scenes of Europe. At one point the Marine Corps was accused of having a strange makeup for a Rifle Squad. Like six correspondents, six photographers, and one Rifleman.

The picture was taken from Time Magazine's edition of the 21st of August, 1950. Here is a picture of the cover.

                     

The handwriting on the cover is that of my Dad. As you can see, he notes that "Picture on Page 22 - Ralph and his platoon." (opening picture) In actuality, the picture is of me, but it is not my platoon. I commanded the Rocket and Mortar Platoon at the time. I do recall the name of one of the Marines in the picture. Behind me on your right, the second Marine is a tall, gangly kid. I recall that he had flaming red hair. And his name was Wayerski. How and why I would remember those factoids is beyond my comprehension. But, there it is, and you may make of it whatever you wish. My Dad writes further: "Page 52 - Paragraph at top of page is quoting Ralph."

That paragraph reads: "In a dispatch last week, [Keyes] Beech quoted a young lieutenant who had unaccountably survived the almost direct hit of an enemy shell. 'I called battalion last night and my C.O. wanted to know who was talking. I said it was Sullivan and he said 'Why, you're dead!' I said 'The heck I am...'"

The Colonel was right. On the 8th of August, myself and two other platoon commanders in D Company were officially reported to be "Killed in Action. Body Not Recovered." Unfortunately, the report was right in two of the cases reported. However, to paraphrase Mark Twain, the report of my demise had been highly exaggerated. Had the report been 100% accurate I wouldn't be sitting here tonight writing this. And so, on with the festivities.

 

 

Enter