Grandfather, William H. McDonald, enlisted in the Marine
Corps at age 17, on January 2nd, 1942. He didn't get to see
his parents for 2 1/2 years. First he went to boot camp,
then he went on the ship the U.S.S. Wakefield. He traveled
to Panama Canal, the Pacific Ocean,
The battle for Guadalcanal was fought on the
sea, in the air, and on the land. The battles on the sea
always took place at night. From the beach my Grandfather
could see the flashes and hear the guns from the Navy ships.
My Grandfather went on combat patrols into the jungle.
Sometimes these patrols lasted for many days and there was
no time for sleep. Nobody could ever bring supplies or food
to the Americans because the Japanese would bomb any ships
that came near Guadalcanal. My Grandfather got to eat one
meal a day which consisted of Japanese rice. After the war
was over my Grandfather wouldn't eat rice. He absolutely
hated it since he had to eat so much of it.
Click on the
interview to go to a closeup
and New Zealand. He was a part of
the 1st Marine Division. On August 7th, 1942, with
his division, he landed on Guadalcanal. Guadalcanal
is part of the Solomon Islands in the Pacific
Ocean. During World War II the Japanese were
building an airbase on Guadalcanal. The Americans
had decided they wanted to capture it. My
Grandfather would spend four months fighting on
Lots of diseases were going around at
Guadalcanal. Some of them were malaria, dysentery, jaundice
and jungle rot. These diseases seemed to affect everyone.
There weren't many good medical facilities, so no one got
the proper treatment because the doctors didn't have many
supplies. They had to make due with what they had. When my
grandfather got malaria, he had to walk to the hospital,
which was only a tent. They gave him quinine and just let
him sweat it out.
When they first came to Guadalcanal they had
the clothes on their backs which had to last for four
months. But when they left their clothes were nothing but
rags. There were no sanitary supplies such as soap,
This is my grandfather and a few
The first weapon my Grandfather was ever
issued was a Springfield 03 rifle which was the standard
issue. Later on, he was issued the newer and more effective
Garand. He swapped his Garand for a M-1 Carbine which was
lighter to carry and just as effective. It wasn't an
official swap. He was trained and became qualified to
operate the water cooled heavy machine gun and air cooled
light machine gun. He was also qualified to operate the 45
pistol. After that he was trained to operate the
The battle of Guadalcanal ended February 21,
1943. The battle actually took six months but my Grandfather
was only there for four. After those six months the
Americans won the battle and captured Guadalcanal.
Grandfather thought he was really never a hero or a leader.
He did what his commanders told him. Personally, I think he
was a hero.
1992 my Grandfather went to the 50th anniversary of his
Guadalcanal division in Washington D.C. He was proud of the
time he spent in the Marines and he wanted to see some of
the men with whom he served.
After the war he came home, got married, and
had four children, Pat, Carolyn, Bill, and Sara. He became a
CPA. After living a long, proud life, William H. McDonald
died May 25, 1995 of cancer at age 72. He was buried in a
veteran cemetery in St. Petersburg, Florida. I've always
been proud of him because to me he was a hero.