6 August 1942
You’re in the mess of the transport ship McCawley, crammed in with the majority of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines. The din is deafening; Marines chat loudly about the upcoming attack. It reeks of sweat and the greasy food you’ve been stomaching for the past week. At the call of “Attention on deck!” all conversation stops and everyone turns to the fore, where a map stand has been set up. Lieutenant Colonel McKelvy, the Battalion Commander, stands in front of the map. On it is a large view of a group of islands, one you’ve studied in great detail before.
He clears his throat. “All right, Marines, listen up. As you know, we are a day away from the invasion of Guadalcanal. This invasion comes eight months to the day from when the Japs hit us at Pearl. I won’t lie to you boys, it hasn’t been a pretty eight months. They’ve been hitting us all across this ocean, and with no small degree of success. Some people consider their Army invincible. We’re here to prove that that’s bullshit. The only thing they had that we didn’t was guts. It falls to us Marines to prove that we’ve more than made up that deficiency. We’re going to take the offensive in this war, and our first chance to kick the Nips in the teeth comes here. Guadalcanal. The Japs are setting up an airfield here, and if they get it running it will mean no end of trouble for our boys in the Navy. If we can take it, we can stall their whole offensive in the area, maybe take some of the pressure off the Australians.
“You know the plan, but I’m going to go over it one last time, because we can’t afford any fuckups. This operation consists of two task groups, X-Ray and Yoke. Task Group Yoke, made up of our Raiders and Parachutists, will attack these islands across the channel,” he points to the northern group of islands, “in order to guard us against possible artillery sites.
“Task Group X-Ray, which is most of the 1st Division, is tasked with seizing Guadalcanal itself, specifically this airfield on Lunga Point," he taps the map. "The task group is divided into three combat elements. The 5th Marines form Combat Group Able. They’ll storm the beach, then form a perimeter for us to come ashore. The 1st is Combat Group Baker. We’ve got Group Charlie as a floating reserve if we need them. Once Able has the beach, we’ll land and move through them. Our objective for D-Day is this grassy knoll,” He points at a raised area south of the airfield. “It’s got a commanding view of the airfield, and we need to clear it of Japs if our attack on the field itself is going to succeed. We estimate that it’s a few miles south of Beach Red, our landing zone. We should reach it by midday. Once we’ve taken that hill, we’ll move on to take the airfield. From there we’ll move on to clear the rest of the island.
“Our Talent groups will be of especial importance in this early phase of the battle. It will be their responsibility to find the Japs before the Japs find us. You men can take comfort in the fact that we’ve got far more of the Talents on our side than the enemy has. Talent teams are spread throughout the landing forces. Those boys back there,” he points at your group near the rear of the hall, “are Group 11, and they’re currently assigned to our Battalion. If you see a Jap do something weird, report it to them. They’ll pass the word along, and work to neutralize that enemy Talent.”
“Intelligence estimates that there are 5,000 of the bastards on Guadalcanal. Be prepared for tough fighting, but be assured, our air and naval power will see us through this. We’ve got the entire country behind this push. With enough grit, we’ll hit the Japs where it hurts. Boys, we’re done playing on the defensive. Now’s our chance to turn the whole tide of this war. Landing is at 0700 tomorrow.
“Dismissed.” With that, the Lt. Col. turns and leaves the Mess. The other Marines start talking again, and filtering from the hall, their tension easily visible.
It’s a little after noon, and the mess staff is starting to prepare lunch. It’s stifling in the ship, although on deck the sea breeze helps alleviate the heat. You’ve got the rest of the day to yourselves. You’re the only Talent squad on the ship, which is currently carrying the 3rd Battalion on their way to Guadalcanal as part of a much larger convoy.