We Were Going to Win, or Die There: With the Marines at Guadalcanal, Tarawa, and Saipan.

Author:Marion, Forrest L.
Position:Book review

We Were Going to Win, or Die There: With the Marines at Guadalcanal, Tarawa, and Saipan. By Roy H. Elrod and Fred H. Allison. Denton TX: University of North Texas Press, 2017. Photographs. Bibliography. Notes. Index. Pp. ix, 289. $20.00 ISBN: 978-157441689-3

In this relatively short personal account, two Marines from Muleshoe, Texas, teamed up to produce a superb memoir describing Roy Elrod's Marine Corps career (1940-1961) with particular attention devoted to his combat experiences in three of the hardest-fought battles of the Pacific campaign: Guadalcanal (where he earned a Silver Star), Tarawa, and Saipan. Elrod's powerful 37-mm guns made a difference at Guadalcanal and Tarawa--his were the only ones known to make it ashore at Tarawa on the first day. Elrod was in the thick of the fighting in all campaigns. At Saipan he commanded a company of 75-mm halftracks, again fighting along the front lines until being seriously wounded and evacuated near the end of the battle on 2 July 1944.

In ten fast-moving chapters, Allison, a Marine Corps historian at Quantico, interviewed Elrod for more than 30 hours beginning in late 2012 and edited the transcripts for publication. The book covers Elrod's life growing up in Muleshoe through his schooling at Texas A&M. Elrod joins the Marine Corps in 1940 where the book describes boot camp, training at Camp Elliott (near San Diego), through the 8th Marines' combat. After being wounded, Elrod returned to the United States in the fall of 1944 to continue his recuperation and, at the end of the year, married his sweetheart, Malda. Their marriage lasted 63 years. Elrod's wartime letters to his family add to the authenticity of this candid narrative and confirm--as do the explanatory notes Allison provides based on official Marine Corps records--that Elrod's memory was amazingly accurate nearly seven decades after many of the events occurred. Elrod recounts each episode in a straightforward...

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