A Tracy Marine in the Western Pacific – A
This year the world commemorates the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. We will participate by remembering the wartime contributions of persons from our region, most of whom are no longer with us.
I interviewed Tracy’s Art Marbin in July 2006. Art was born in Lamberton, Minnesota in 1922 and graduated from Lamberton High School in 1940.
Art enrolled at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, beginning his college education while living in a dormitory on campus. He was a sophomore when Imperial Japan attacked Naval Base Pearl Harbor, plunging the U.S. into WWII. Art and his college friends had already registered for the draft, so military service was on their minds as they attended classes and followed the war news. They reached a decision in October 1942.
“We all thought we were going to be drafted because we had signed up for the draft in our local counties. We were shooting the breeze one day and one guy mentioned, ‘Let’s go down and enlist in the Marine Corps.’ So, we went down and enlisted. Of course, the guy who suggested we enlist in the Marine Corps didn’t qualify. He couldn’t pass the exam. So, we had Art Scheidl, Keith Hoffman, Bob Lee and myself all enlist in the Marine Corps.”
Art explained that they enlisted in the Navy/Marine Corps V-12 program.
“It was a college program prior to being commissioned. So, they sent us to Gustavus Adolphus in St. Peter (June 1943) and after the first semester, two of the fellows – Art Scheidl and Keith Hoffman – were called in the Marine Corps. I stayed for two semesters before I went in to Parris Island for Boot Camp.”
Life at Gustavus Adolphus as a Marine V-12 cadet involved college courses, but also carried a distinct Marine Corps flavor.
“We lived in the dorm. I took regular college classes. We had some Marine sergeants there that gave us physical training. We were in uniform. I’ll never forget how we’d march down the hill from Gustavus Adolphus to the bank at St. Peter and pick up our $48 a month. We were all buck privates,” he concluded, laughing.
Art estimated there were at least 200 students enrolled in the V-12 program at Gustavus Adolphus.
“We were in companies. We had a corporal that was in charge of us – each unit – tough, old Marine corporal. It was a good experience. They gave us physical training and the college professors gave us the mental end of it. We didn’t have any Marine Corps history or anything, but we had the Marine Corps physical training before going to Boot Camp, which was where you really learned a few things.”
The Marine Corps sent Art to basic training (boot camp) at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina in late spring of 1944. Art explained the adjustments Boot Camp required.
“Well, there was so much regimentation. When you’re going to college, you freelance things quite a bit. But (in boot camp) everything is run on schedule. The demands are there and you’d better live up to them and if you don’t, you’re in trouble starting with Boot Camp right on. And that’s just a learning situation that you have to adjust to.”
Art did not hesitate a bit when identifying the lasting impressions Boot Camp left on him.
“Bull Sullivan as a Drill Instructor – a tough man. His use of language was something extraordinary in describing things. He knew how to handle men. He put us through the worst calisthenics — I’ll never forget! There was no backtalk. You were a boot and you (had to) gain the respect. You loved him and you hated him.”
He described a particular training incident with DI Sullivan.
“When we had bayonet practice, you had to put the scabbard on the bayonet. So, I’m going at him and giving that vertical stroke and so forth. Evidently I was doing it a little haphazardly. He said, ‘Take that scabbard off that bayonet and you come at me.’ Jeez, I came at him — he hit my rifle and just about knocked me over. He was something else,” Art concluded with a laugh.
When Art graduated Boot Camp, the Marine Corps sent him to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejuene, North Carolina. He explained why the Marine Corps sent him there, rather than to the usual Officer Candidate School at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia.
“The rate of attrition among 2nd Lieutenants was so bad in the Marine Corps, they had to accelerate the program. So, I never did go to Quantico, which was the Marine Corps academy for 2nd Lieutenants. There were 300 of us in the special OCS. They put us through some good training.”
The officer candidates lived in regular barracks and lived Marine Corps discipline from reveille in the morning to light’s out at night. Art described their officer training course at Camp Lejuene.
“Calisthenics was the first thing in the morning and it’s nothing real easy. And then you go to classes and then you’re out in the field a lot, you know — war exercises. It’s a good program. It was a couple of months. We were commissioned – 300 of us – it became a very close-knit outfit.”
Officer of Marines, 2nd Lieutenant Arthur Marbin received orders to the 3rd Amphibious Corps, whose mission was to plan and conduct combat assaults against Japanese-held islands in the Western Pacific. Art was on his way to the war.
I welcome your participation in and ideas about this exploration of prairie lives. You may reach me at prairieviewpressllc @gmail.com.