Lieutenant General Merrill B. Twining tells about burning of records in 1942 on Guadalcanal....
General Merrill B. Twining [page 151] "...one drizzly morning Jerry Thomas phoned and told me, "The Old Man [General A. A. Vandegrift] is talking again about going up in the hills and falling on his sword. Heâs coming up to see you. For Chrissake, be careful about what you say." The sky was alive with scudding dark clouds. I didnât need Jerryâs gloomy message. Besides, why was the general coming to see instead of vice versa?
"In a few minutes the general appeared, looking craggier than usual and wearing his grim, no-nonsense expression. He took me aside, saying, I want you to prepare a plan for withdrawal up the Lunga using our amphibian tractors."
"Apparently he had forgotten his 13th of September directive to Jerry up at Robbersâ Roost. I didnât remind him of it.
"He then issued peremptory orders to burn all of our classified files and all our other records except what could be carried in one mailbag. He stayed right there while Sgt. Bob Brant started a fire and we began the burn. Then he left with Captain Compton, USN, who had come to discuss matters connected with the newly established naval station on Guadalcanal. Sgt. Dick Kuhn got a mailbag from the sergeant major. I gave my two enlisted assistants a lame excuse about raising security levels, which forbade us to continue holding such materials in our shrapnel-torn, old field safe.
"This burn, however justifiable at the time, represented a tremendous loss of historical material, especially in the case of our daily operational report to ComSoPac and his messages to us. 1 particularly regretted the loss of Carlson's reports on his famous Guadalcanal raid.
When the old man left me after giving his instructions I tried in vain to figure out what change in our circumstances had brought these desperate orders about. I knew of nothing alarming on the horizon to cause it and simply assumed he was privy to some highly classified eyes-only material that he could not divulge to me or even to Jerry, his chief of staff. I still donât know."
No Bended Knee by General Merrill B. Twining USMC (Ret.), Presidio 1996.
R.W. "Dick" Gaines
GnySgt USMC (Ret.)
1952 (Plt #437)--'72
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