Guadalcanal, 1942

Shores of Guadalcanal
[National Archives and Records Administration]

Imagine hearing that thousands of enemy soldiers were headed your way? That was what Robert Youngdeer faced in 1942, as he dug in in the mosquito-infested jungles of Guadalcanal. Word was that 10,000 heavily armed Japanese troops were on the way, but the Marine from Cherokee could only wait as Japanese warships pounded the island. Then he heard the splashing of feet crossing the river and soon, enemy troops were attacking Youngdeer’s machine gun unit from all sides. When they retreated, they left behind snipers in the trees and the next morning, Youngdeer was shot in the face by a sniper’s bullet. He managed to get help and that night, he and the other wounded could only listen to the massive gunfight in what became known as the Battle of Bloody Ridge. The next day, Youngdeer was evacuated to a hospital ship where remarkably, he met his brother who had been bayoneted during the fighting on Guadalcanal. Both survived. Youngdeer would later return to the fighting.

“And I could hear that gunfight going on up on that ridge, rifles and machines guns, really sounding off. Our Marine artillery, I could hear the gun officer giving the fire commands, ‘Fire! Fire!’ They really had a battle on that ridge that night, and they stopped the Japs on Bloody Ridge.”
- Marine ROBERT YOUNGDEER

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In this excerpt, Robert Youngdeer, a Marine from Cherokee, NC, describes listening to the Battle of Bloody Ridge on Guadalcanal from inside a bunker after being wounded on the island.