Last week, I wrote briefly about the 1st Parachute Battalion during World War II. One of the Marines assigned to this now legendary battalion was cited for bravery, as follows:
“The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Robert Green Fuller, Private First Class, U. S. Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty while serving with the FIRST Parachute Battalion, FIRST Marine Division, during the assault on enemy Japanese forces at Gavutu, Solomon Islands, on 7 August 1942. When the progress of his unit was retarded by heavy opposition, Private First Class Fuller displayed courageous disregard for his imminent danger by attacking a heavily fortified gun emplacement from which the deadly fire was emanating. Charging forward against the withering blasts of hostile weapons, he unhesitatingly engaged the enemy in perilous hand-to-hand combat and killed all eight of the Japanese, thereby annihilating a strong and hazardous obstacle. His daring aggressiveness and valiant devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”
Robert G. Fuller served in the Marine Corps for a total of five years, and while information about this hard-fighting Marine is limited, I suspect that he may have been part of the initial training and organization of the Parachute Battalions. I was able to learn that his home of record was Newburyport, Massachusetts. His publisher indicated that he is responsible for several short stories … but more than this about his subsequent life or professional accomplishments is a mystery to me.
What I know for certain is that Mr. Fuller wrote a book entitled, Danger! Marines at Work originally published in 1957. It is the fictional story about the Marines of the 1st Parachute Battalion that takes place when the battalion, having lost half of its strength, was withdrawn to New Caledonia for rest, retraining, and refitting. Some of the characters in the story are recognizable to me based on what I know about certain World War II Marines. For example, I believe that the character General Burgermeister is modeled on General William H. Rupertus (now deceased). The shenanigans are the sorts of things Marines do whenever they lack constant supervision. The comedy is similar to McHale’s Navy —but this is about Marines.
The new Battalion Commanding Officer arrives from Headquarters Marine Corps, where he’s been languishing for the past ten years. The major perceives that for some reason, his Commanding General is not very happy to have him on board. Following a very disappointing “first meeting” with the general, Major Barrow is driven to his new command, which has been placed in garrison at T0ntouta; there won’t be a change of command ceremony because the previous commanding officer went over the hill.
Here’s a snippet of what transpires during his first week in command:
Major Barrow’s spirits picked up considerably as he wandered through the tent rows a few days later. The wonderfully clean streets and the neatness of the men’s pyramidals again indicated to him that his troopers were Marines, and, under proper leadership, could be reclaimed—disciplined—into a compliant military organization. He had made some headway in this awesome task but was increasingly aware that the actual depth of his paratrooper’s conniving’s was still not known to him. Japanese houseboys!
Glancing into the pyramidals, he noted the perfectly made bunks and the orderliness of the men’s gear. The top blankets on the cots were taut as drumheads, the shoes properly placed together and the rifles neatly racked. But halfway down one company street he paused, noticing that the bunks were unmade in the rest of the tents to the end of the line. In one pyramidal he saw a pair of slim legs walking around a bunk. The legs belonged to a girl. She was tucking in blankets and when finished, moved on to the next unmade bed. She winked at him.
“Who are you,” Barrow demanded, “and what are you doing in this area?”
“I’m Marie,” the black-haired, bright-eyed girl answered with a smile. “I’m the new maid.”
“Maid?” Barrow looked down at the girl, blushing as he found himself staring at the bold, up-thrust lines of her lovely figure. “How long have the men had a maid?”
“I don’t know.” Her dazzling smile almost blinded the major. “A girl friend of mine once worked for them for four months. She had to leave because she is indisposed. She is going to have a …”
“Ahem,” Major Barrow interrupted. “You’ll have to leave this camp immediately. We can’t have a girl among all these men.”
“Now where could there be a better place for a girl to be than among men.” Marine giggled, bending over to tuck in the blanket on a bunk, accenting the lovely roundness of her hips as Barrow tried to look away. “And such handsome men!”
“Regardless,” Barrow said, loosing his collar, “I want you to leave this place. I don’t want any women around here.”
“How long have you been in the Marine Corps?” The girl again showed the major the whiteness of her teeth in a gay smile. “You don’t talk like any Marine I ever met.”
“I’ll arrange for your transportation right away,” Barrow said determinedly. “You must leave this camp.”
“Well, I shall not leave this camp,” the girl said firmly. “I have a contract.”
Barrow escorted the maid back to the command section. Captain Nugent looked up from his desk in the adjutant’s office as Barrow entered with the lady.
“Hello, Marie,” Nugent greeted her.
It is definitely a laugh-out-loud book. You can find it online at Amazon.