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With Guadalcanal firmly in American control by October 1943, the Allies decided to invade Bougainville, another island in the Solomon chain, to tighten their stranglehold on the Japanese in the area. To divert the enemy's attention, a raid was ordered on the nearby island of Choiseul. Success relied on making the Japanese think that a Marine division had landed on Choiseul so that they would rush reinforcements there while a much larger American Marine force would land on Bougainville. But Allied resources were scarce, so the Choiseul raid fell to the 2nd Marine Parachute Battalion. An aggressive unit of paratroopers under the command of the now legendary "Brute" Krulak, they were well trained in guerilla warfare and night fighting. This is the story of the paratroopers' courageous fight, told from their unique perspective.
Told to make the noise of an entire division, the Marines knew that if they got into trouble, there would be no reinforcements. For seven days they raised hell, bringing the fight to the Japanese along the coastline and deep into the jungle. Then, on November 3, as a large Japanese force closed in, the Marines slipped off the island, mission accomplished. Bougainville had been secured. This hour-by-hour account of what happened is based on an exhaustive gathering of all possible eyewitness accounts and includes a rescue by John F. Kennedy's PT boat and the death of a Marine in Kennedy's bunk. It is a page-turner more akin to a novel than a work of nonfiction.
James Christ did a great job in telling the story of the invasion of Choiseul, covering all units that went in different directions on the island. Telling about the Marines activities almost on an hour-by-hour level, jumping between the various groups, or even the different survivors whom he interviewed, the book gives the reader the impression of being on the island and part of the action.
I was personally interested in this story because one of the 14 KIA's in this event was my uncle - Kempe Parker Biggs. Born in Alice, Texas, he died less than two months short of his 20th birthday. Even though my mother had told me about him when I was very young, until this book I did not have a decent view of the service provided by him and the other service men in the 2nd Marine Parachute Battalion.
My only complaint is that there is not a list of the men in each Company involved (I would like to know which of the men interviewed were in Company F with Kempe), nor an index in the book to make it easier to find the pages where certain men or units are mentioned. But as it is such an easy read, and short at 255 pages, it was easy to find applicable sections.