REINALD A. ESHLEMAN

Corporal | Marine Corps

 

Reinald Eshleman enlisted in the Marine Corps on July 14, 1943 at the age of nineteen.  Just over a year later, he was assigned to B Company, 3d Marine Regiment, 3d Marine Division as a Browning Automatic Rifleman (B.A.R. man). Almost a week before, the 3d Marines had secured the Japanese threat on Guam. However, there were many who remained in the jungle, refusing to surrender. The 1st Battalion participated in "aggressive patrolling and mopping-up that continued during the rest of August and September. This proved to be excellent on-the-job combat training in small-unit operations for the newly arriving replacements" like Eshleman (1).

The next mission for the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines came on November 5, 1944.  The unit was assigned to Regimental Combat Team 3 in floating reserve for the amphibious assault on Iwo Jima.  "From that date until the actual boarding of ships on 16 February 1945, an intensive training program went on, emphasizing the training of old hands as well as new replacements" (1).  The unit was never called upon, and returned to Guam in March, 1945 where they resumed cleaning up Japanese resistance.  "Guam was still far from being a peaceful tropic paradise as numerous Japanese were still roaming about the island. In April 1945, the 3d Marines, supported by artillery, began an eight-day sweep of the southern portion of the island, which resulted in 14 enemy dead and several captured" (1).

GUAM

"A few Japanese, who were reluctant to surrender, continually harassed Marine patrols and the natives as they raided villages and supply dumps in search of food. Attempts were made in suspected areas to gain the enemy soldiers' surrender through psychological warfare leaflet drops and loud speaker broadcasts. The island commander then directed a complete sweep of northern Guam, beginning on 24 October, in which all remaining Japanese forces were to be sought out, captured, or destroyed. By the end of the month, 617 additional Japanese had been killed and 85 had been captured. The 3d Marines returned to its bivouac area to prepare for the next operation. It was necessary, too, to continue daily patrolling as scatterings of Japanese still roamed the jungles" (1).

The Battalion remained on Guam for the remainder of the war and through September.  The islands in the Pacific held by the Japanese had to be demilitarized, and Japanese forces repatriated back to mainland Japan.  This job fell to the 1st Battalion, 3d Marines, who would become known as the 'Chichi Jima' Marines.  Chichi Jima was an island fortress located 615 miles south of Tokyo.  The 3d Marines arrived on October 10th to receive the surrender and destroy their defenses.  At the end of the month, on October 31, 1945, Eshleman was finally transferred back to the States.

Guam on July 27, 1944

Guam on July 27, 1944

Adelup Point, Guam

Adelup Point, Guam

Agana, Guam

Agana, Guam

KOREA

After spending a few years in the reserves, on April 5, 1951, Cpl. Eshleman joined E company, 2d Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment in Korea. For the first few months, Eshleman experienced life on the line, but outside of the combat zone.  "From June until late July or early August, [members of E Company] were in the same place. They were located at the Punch Bowl near the 38th parallel in eastern Korea. The primary responsibility of the men assigned to Easy-2-5 during this time period was going on patrols to determine the enemy activity—their advancement or withdrawal, and how they were prepared" (2).  Marines who had served in WWII, like Eshleman, had valuable combat experience and shared this with the new Marines arriving.  At the end of July, the unit was put in reserve in the town of Inje and remained there until the last day of August when the battalion moved to the Kansas line.

 

The first half of September was relatively quiet, and members of 2d Battalion, 5th Marines got some rest and continued training.  During the last two weeks, however, the battalion was engaged in combat, "the tenor of which was more sharply pitched and resulted in more casualties than any fighting the unit had engaged in since the preceding year" (3).  On September 10th, the 2nd Battalion was assigned to defend a larger portion of the Kansas line while the 1st Battalion moved up to the Hays line.  D Company returned to the bivouac area, leaving E Company the only unit to defend the Kansas line.

Rest and relaxation ended on September 15th when the battalion mobilized for an attack on Hill 812.  E Company remained in reserve until 0400 on September 17th when they moved toward Hill 812.  They made contact with F Company and proceeded to attack the hill at 1100 hours.  Sporadic fighting continued throughout the day and E Company settled into position by 1700 that evening.  Throughout the next day, E Company was subjected to consistent artillery and mortar fire, along with enemy patrols and attacks into the lines.  Though inclement weather caused poor visibility, anyone who exposed themselves on the ridge became a target for enemy sniper and mortar fire.  On this day, Eshleman was hit in the chest. He was one of forty E Company members to be wounded in action on the 18th.  He was not evacuated at the time, and remained in combat throughout the nine day battle on Hill 812.  Eshleman rotated home in mid October, and arrived stateside on November 4th.  He was released from active duty on November 10, 1951.

Sources:

 

(1) Frank, Benis M. "A Brief History of the 3d Marines." The Air University. The Air University, n.d. Web. 10 June 2014. <http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/usmchist/3rdMar.txt>.

(2) Brown, Joseph F. "Veteran's Memoirs: Joseph Francis Brown." Korean War Educator. Korean War Educator, 2002. Web. 11 June 2014. <http://www.thekwe.org/memoirs/brown_joe/index.htm>.

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