Herb Amey ’35 (Bravery on Tarawa)

Herb Amey

“Uncle Herb,” as he was called by many of his classmates at PMC, was a tall, black-haired cadet who had earned the respect and admiration of the Corps during his four years at the college. Academically he was an excellent student and played guard on the football team and captained the baseball team. After graduation he joined the Marine Corps. In November 1943, Lt Colonel Amey, the Commanding Officer of the 2nd Battalion of the 2nd Marine Regiment, was preparing his troops for the amphibious assault on Tarawa.

USMC-C-Tarawa-p12Tarawa is located in the Gilbert Islands approximately 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii. The island of Betio became the centerpiece of the Japanese fortifications because it was a defensive stronghold. The landings began on November 20 and immediately ran into trouble. After the first three waves of his command, Landing Team 2/2, had departed for the beach, Amey ordered his boat closer to the beach. According to Robert Sherrod, a war correspondent with the 2/2, “Somehow Amey flagged down two amtracs and transferred his group into them … Amey’s tractor was forced to halt about 200 yards from the beach by an obstacle of barbed wire on the reef.” Amey looked over the edge of the vehicle and then led his men over the side into water up to their necks. ‘C’mon gang,’ he shouted, ‘they can’t stop us.’ He took about ten steps – and they were the last he ever took.”

tarawaAs the sun set on Tarawa, the Second Marine Division occupied a thin strip of land. With courage, sacrifice, and skill, the U. S. Marines had broken Tarawa’s door in, and they were not about to leave.