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the smoke hadn't cleared from the devastating losses of the island when admiral gormley allowed his flattops to leave guadalcanal. >> he create as precedent that the marines have never forgotten and that precedent is they should always bring their own airplanes with them because they can't rely on the navy. >> were we abandoned? yes, i have to say we all felt that way. >> well, i think they were right. they were, in essence, abandoned during the time that the tokyo express came down without any effective opposition. admiral gormley was someone who was very prudent and very reluctant to gamble. >> from fishtown, pennsylvania, charles calhoun was a 29-year-old lieutenant aboard the destroyer. he saw the convoys in action. >> tokyo express. that's the name that was given by our navy to the force which
came down from the island chain to bombard guadalcanal on almost a nightly basis. >> while the marines held onto henderson field, jacob boozer spied on the enemy. >> they were supposed to be provide bag controls and intelligence information to clemo clemons. >> on august 21st he and a thousand of his imperial soldiers planned a massive counteroffensive at the river. boozer was caught by a japanese patrol and they found a tiny american flag in his pocket. >> they captured him and they tied him up to a tree which had an ants nest. he was left out there all day. >> he showed me his tongue.
they left him for dead. >> he managed to chew through his ropes and escape. he came down the road shouting no shooting me, me no japan, me no japan. >> but boozer refused medical attention until he reported to clem ons clemons. >> he gave me a lock report of this crowd that had arrived at his village. he then gave me a message through his wife that he didn't think he was going to survive. >> but he did survive and general vandergrift's marines were ready for him. >> the japanese moral superiority could win over virtually any level of material superiority by any western power. about 800 of his 1,100 troops were killed in this engagement. >> and what does the japanese commander do at that time? >> we believe he committed suicide. >> no one knew that this was
just the beginning and that this kind of fighting would go on for the next six months. >> what's yamamoto thinking at this point? >> well t japanese still continue to underestimate. their thinking is so basic. we'll try a battaglia and then a division. the one that was best conceived and best executed was his thrust in september. his regiment is comprised primarily of coal miners who were known for their con tankerousne tankis the ridge any variously called bloody ridge. >> correct. he would have overrun the ridge but the first marine division command post. >> they had to get through the first marine raiders and first marine parachute and their commander. >> he had slightly red hair and
he grew a beard. the beard, of course, turned red. was red. and that is where the nickname started as red mike. >> john sweeney was there commanding his own rifle company right alongside red mike on bloody ridge that september 13th. by some accounts they were outnumbered 6-1. >> henderson field is located in the area just behind where the artillery was established for this particular action. about a thousand yards from this spot. on this night some 600 marine raiders and 300 pair troa troop defended this particular portion of the airfield. >> cam guc one gets lost in the jungle. the other two flounder around and the combat is pretty fleeting that night, although it's bad enough to drive back the initial marine line.
>> i can visualize going through it. i think one of the fears that i had was the darkness falling, knowing that something was going to happen right after dark. >> it's incredibly steep to go up that ridge. it's like your face is almost facing right into the ground your head is bent over so far. >> it was hell. flares flying overhead in order to illuminate the target. >> during the two-day battle the handler to hand-come want was as fierce as any they had ever seen. >> the troops were antsy, particularly when the other two platoons back over in the jungle were being hit and the screams and hollering and hand grenades. >> the japanese kepd unhijing the defensive operation. they finally took it back to a hilltop. there were a few hundred mari marines. he probably had the whole campaign in balance at that point. >> they managed to hold their ground and save henderson field.
he survived but the ridge was stained red with the blood of more than 500 of his member. 111 marines lay dead next to them. red mike edison was awarded the medal of honor and john sweeney received the navy cross. >> the men that were killed, and we had a few in our own ranks killed that night, are the real heroes. >> one of the great legends of the marine corps gets another navy cross on guadalcanal, chessty puller. >> the first major one was when they landed on the islands in 1942 and among that, chesty puller. >> he land with 4,000 much needed fresh marines. the force now stood at 47,000 but the japanese were still there in force, some 30,000 strong hidden in the jungles courtesy of the tokyo express.
at sea the battles raged on. a day after bloody ridge, the carrier "uss wasp" was sunked by a japanese submarine. this time 2,000 marines were saved but it left the hornet as the only one left in the pacific. >> they could not lead american forces in the pasting. >> nemitz knew he had a leadership problem. he replaced him with william "bull" halzy. >> vandergrift said in one simple sentence the navy wasn't doing enough to support us. now, this was like a spear in halzy's hart because the one thing he could not tolerate was the notion that the navy was not holding up its end. he promised to support the marines, and that's exactly what he did. >> flying planes like this
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admiral nemitz decorated a few of the many heroes. this is colonel edison who lead. >> morale improved dramatically when he came to that island in september of '42. along with admiral nemitz machine gunner page arrived. >> i felt i had the best machine gun the marine corps had ever had and every one of them were 1917, 1918 a-1 machine guns. >> 30 minutes after he got there, a siren wailed. >> everyone was screaming air raid, air raid. i specifically distinktly recall
a plane coming low overhead and everyone was shooting at him but he was an american plane. we actually shot one of our own planes down. >> the seventh marine had just arrived. they spent all last night shooting each other. they didn't know anything about jungle noises, you see. >> the marines learned from the likes of martin clemmons and jacob boozer. page and his men went to live in the jungle. >> they had huge snakes. you lived in swamps. rainstorms. we sad in water for days and you had to somehow keep your weapons oiled and greased. >> those kids that we had in our squadron ranked from 17 to 22. >> joe floss went from farm boy to legendary marine ace. he flew and was one of the oldest pilots in the pacific. >> duke and myself were the two old goats in the deal.
i was 27, you see, and they were yelling i was too old to fly fighters. >> joe, how did they come to call it the cactus air force? >> that was our code name. there isn't a cactus within thousands of miles from there unless somebody carried it there. >> you arrive on october 9th. when's your first dogfight. the 13th. and they start shooting at you right away. >> on that day floss led 15 wildcats to intercept 32 planes. >> they swarmed down on us. they had speed. we got our speed when we nosed over. the wildcat weighed 8,900 pounds and the zero weighed 5,900. four airplanes off to my left and below me and being an old hunter, i thought i'd go for number one. if you get the leader, it sort of confuses the flock and in this case i got number one.
and that's when, pow. that son of a gun hit the oil. it doesn't take long for that engine to freeze. i dropped the gears at the last minute just before i hit the ground. what really went through my mind is why did i ever leave the farm. >> it holds the record for 282 aerial victories. joe floss personally achieved 26 kills. this earned him the congressional medal of honor. >> that's what i'm proud and honored to have. back in the jungle mitch page and his platoon were fighting another all out offensive. >> 24 hours a day something was going on somewhere along that per rim ter. >> on a rainy night on october 259 his pla teen was deployed over a ridge. in front of him, 2,500 soldiers. >> i only add 32 men.
i had no other troops. said we're here, we're going to hold this ground. our guns are going to work well. >> when the flares went off, all hell broke loose. >> for a second everything would light up and all of a sudden you would see bayonets coming at you and this most horrible screaming. one guy was screaming blood for the emperor and richard east answer bury, one of my men, screamed out blood for eleanor. >> when the second wave hit, every marine became a casualty. he was now all alone. >> was running from gun to gun. i was the only one on the gun. >> for four hours page held a position but at the first light of dawn he found himself in the sights of a japanese machine gunner. >> he fired 30 rounds at me and missed me. 30 times he missed me. some of the bullets were out here but i could feel the warmth and i immediately fired one burst and he was gone. i looked around and nobody was
moving and it was so quiet i thought i was in a cemetery and pretty soon i hear this screaming and homering and here comes my six bayonet guys down this hill and i never had such a charge in my lifetime. >> mitch page was awarded the medal of honor for his extraordinary courage. stay tuned for more "war stories." that's an order.
the marines were reinforced from the 164th infantry and at sea, the navy was slowly turning the tide. >> halsey's leadership precipitates a bunch of naval engagements. >> halsey decides to go out and get them. he issues an order to strike, repeat, strike. >> during the battle the one remaining carrier, the "uss hornet" was torpedoed. theyished in the depths of iron bottom sound. >> the next engagement happens in november. >> one more big effort to run a convoy to guadalcanal with major reinforcements. >> the coast watches are the ones that told us that these japan planes were coming in the guadalcanal. there weren 50 of them. >> senior frank holmgren.
including five brothers from idaho. >> george, francis, madison, joe sevgs and albert sullivan left the family farm to join the navy a day after pearl harbor. kelly sullivan lock rehn is the granddaughter of the youngest, albert. >> it was to avenge their friend's death, bill ball. he was on the arizona. when pearl harbor was bombed that was the first one they thought about. george was the one that wanted to have them on the same ship. >> in the wee hours of november 13th, they were below decks when a torpedo slammed into the number one fire room. >> it knocked me to my feet. i had to make sure i had a life jacket on because i'm not a very good swimmer. right then i was squared death. >> charles calhoun was topside looking at the juneau through binoculars. >> we were probably 3,000 yards
way from her and i remarked to myself what a beautiful ship she was. we were making 21 knots and she was keeping up with us. i was really wondering how in the world she was doing it because i couldn't s any advantage. >> then another torpedo struck. >> the ship blew up in my face. i mean just blew up. the next thing i know, i'm in the air. >> i saw whole 5-inch guns flying through the air. people on the bridge, bodies, flying in the air. >> and i heard ocean, i'm going to die, i'm going to die. i went down with the ship. how far down i was, i don't know. i was dead at that time. >> couldn't see anything. i was looking for survivors. i couldn't see nothing. i couldn't see a piece of
flotsom. >> i finally broke the top. there was fuel oil. it was all over us. it was good tr the sharks. they didn't see either. >> sharks surrounded the flimsy rafts and more men died. >> they went out of their heads. in fact third quarter were diving off the ship to go down below because they thought the ship was down below and they could get supplies. the sharks came around. after the sharks got one of them, they knew what they were getting. people were dying left and right. >> george died early. he was hurt real bad. >> the story goes george survived and he was really distraught, he was looking for his brothers going from raft to raft with toilet paper to wash their faces because they were covered with oil. he was looking for his brothers but he was eventually attacked by sharks.
but in my heart i'd like to think he went down with his brothers and didn't suffer. >> there were only ten survivors, and on that fifth day, two catalinas finally arrived. >> we got in the airplane. the first thing i said to the pilot was did you find them out there. he said, no, charlie never made it. >> president roosevelt wrote him a letter and gave his condolences. even eleanor wrote my great grandmother telling her how brave and courageous she was. >> the sullivan legacy lives on. two ships were commissioned with the family name. >> the first ship was the sullivan 537 and my great grandmother christened that ship in april after she found out the boys were missing in action. >> kelly christened the second ship in 1995. they were all awarded the bronze star for their role in fighting terrorism. there's more ahead on "war stories." stay with me, oliver north, on
today it's hard to imagine those months of desperate combat and the terrible conditions that prevailed on, over, and around guadalcanal. for those who were there, it was indeed a tropical hell. the cost was horrific. but it was a turning point in our fight with the scrap sneeze. admiral bull halsey said before the guadalcanal they advanced at his pleasure. after guadalcanal he retreated. theirs is a war story that deserves to be told. i'm oliver north. good night.
tonight on "war stories" -- >> it's not a job. it's an adventure. >> the navy's fighting seabees. >> those roads we built are still in use today. >> from world war ii through korea and vietnam to the war on >> we can do! >> we build, we fight. >> they could do anything. they could build anything. >> that's next on "war stories."