Saturday, October 5, 2013

Grandpa's Service Record

Living here in Japan has made me very curious about my grandfather's experience during WWII. I'd seen pictures of him in his handsome Marine Corps uniform, but he never talked about his experiences. My grandpa passed away years ago, but he remains one of my most favorite and most influential people that I've ever met.

My aunt recently sent me his service record and my husband (a Marine) helped me decipher what the acronyms and shorthand meant. He was only 17 years old when he enlisted in the Marine Corps, but told the recruiter that he was 21. I can only imagine that the recruiter needed more men and didn't ask any more questions (note that he was included in the 82nd replacement draft).

This is what I've been able to glean from the service record: 

Robert J. Wolfe enlisted on 16 May 1945 and went to boot camp just three days later on 9 May 1945 as part of the 82nd Replacement Draft. On 4 October 1945, he joined the 89th Draft, Marine Training Command, Command Post, possibly after graduating and spending time at the HQ element waiting to leave.

The entry for 5 December 1945 is illegible, but I assume it was more training for his deployment.

On 21 Mar 1946, he joined 2/6 (Golf Co, 2nd Bat, 6th Marines, 2nd Marine Div) with responsibility for general duty. Wikipedia reports,"Following the end of the war, 2/6 landed at Nagasaki to take part in the Occupation of Japan from September 1945 until July 1946." 

Before 2/6 returned to the states, my grandpa joined 1/4 again on general duty on 19 June 1946 (Charlie Co, 1st Bat, 4th Marines) and went to China. From the official history page of 1/4, "Three weeks after Japan surrendered, the Division was dispatched to North China for occupation duty. While in China, the Division had numerous encounters with the Chinese Communists." 

On 12 July 1946, he was transferred to the HQ company of 1/4 and was a radio man. Just a month later, on 13 August 1946, he transferred to Weapons Co in 1/7 (7th Marines, 1st Marine Division) and was responsible for communication security, possibly working with cryptographic keys.

By 11 Feb 1947, he returned to 2/6 on general duty (2nd Bat, 6th Marines, 3rd brigade) and on 3 March 1947, he joined 1/6 as a rifleman, an infantry position. On 1 October 1947, he joined Bravo Co, at a command post, still as a rifleman. He returned to San Diego soon after. 

At some point in his time with the Marine Corps, he received a court martial for being AWOL for 4 days and 16 hours! I'm assuming it was while in China because I read there was a lot of misbehavior during the occupation. Check out the Wikipedia entry for the book China Marine by EB Sledge or the group known as "China Marines". The dates match for a time of insubordination and high stress.

The next entry is unclear. On 17 November 1947, he was assigned to an unknown position at the Marine Barracks at the Naval Training Center in Great Lakes, IL, possibly doing recruit training. He changed his principal duty with the NTC on 1 Dec 1947.

It appears that he had another major change on 24 July 1948 by being assigned to the famous 8th & I Barracks Detachment in Washington, D.C. Soon after his move, on 1 August 1948, he was promoted to Corporal Wolfe in the Marine Corps Instructor Detachment. On 15 May 1949, he was discharged from the Marine Corps with four years of service.

After his time in the service, he moved to Detroit, Michigan and started a family with my beautiful grandma and had five children, one of them being my mother.

Where's Aunt Emily?