'. . . Hell, I was scared to death,' is what Private First Class William Crane said about his heroic deed one day in 1944 on Saipan. Indeed, he was a hero in every sense of the word, but he never got his due—until now.
Bill Crane was 17 years old when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He tried to join the Marine Corps the next day, but his father told him to wait. His older brother had joined the Army Air Corps that day, and his father wanted to be sure his second son was not just getting carried along; he should make his own decision. On 5 December 1942, his 18th birthday, Crane did just that.1
He finished boot camp at the recruit depot outside San Diego, California, then went to communication school for six weeks before shipping out with the newly constituted Fourth Marine Division on New Year's Eve, 1943, headed for some of the toughest combat in the Pacific War.