When a Man Dies Instead of You

When a Man Dies Instead of You April 15, 2013

 Looking for a powerful book to read?

Jim Young

New York Times bestselling author Adam Makos and I have just released our new book. It’s titled VOICES OF THE PACIFIC—the long awaited oral-history project featuring untold stories from the Marine heroes of WWII. The stories are raw and often desperate, yet they provide a real life look into an incredibly dark time of the past.


Over the next few weeks I’ll be offering you a special glimpse inside the covers of the book.


Today, here’s Jim Young, a still-living H-2-1 Marine who served with Sid Phillips and Bob Leckie in the Pacific, telling a tragic narrative about when the Navy was helping supply the men while on Guadalcanal. Be warned: this story isn’t easy to take. Jim wasn’t able to go on the work detail himself, so he asked another man to go in his place.


Sounds funny to say it, but I had come down with a bad case of hemorrhoids. Of all times, the Lieutenant told me to take 12 men down to the beach to help unload a destroyer that was sneaking in.


I told the Lieutenants that I could barely walk, much less unload a ship, so he called for the Corpsmen to check me out. The Corpsman confirmed there was no way I could handle the work party in the shape I was in, so the Lieutenant called another Corporal, Clifton Barter, to take over my job. Corporal Barter asked if he could use my .45 caliber pistol so he wouldn’t have to carry a rifle. I said sure, and off they went.


While they were unloading, the air raids started. The men all jumped on the truck and tried to make a run back to our area. It was too late. Bombs were raining down on them. They stopped at an old bomb crater and all jumped in. Damned if one of the bombs didn’t fall right on top of them.


One of the Marines, a 16-year-old boy who was later sent home, survived the blast and ran back to our company with the news. The lieutenant and a few other guys jumped into a jeep and raced to the spot. I was with them. It was awful. At least five were dead and others badly wounded. You could hardly tell who was who.


I finally located Corporal Barter. He was badly wounded and asking for water. A fragment about the size of softball had hit him. It had gone through the bottom of his rib cage and was sticking out the other side of his chest. The corpsman told me to give him whatever he wanted. There wasn’t anything more we could do for him.


As we were loading the truck with the wounded, Corporal Barter died. The Lieutenant told me to go get my .45 caliber pistol from Barter’s body. It wasn’t easy for me to do that.


It was my fault that he was killed instead of me. It was supposed to be my working party. That’s how I felt about it then. That how I feel about it today, too.




By Adam Makos with Marcus Brotherton

Now available.

Ask for it at a bookstore near you, or order your copy HERE.



Question: A man dies instead of you—really, that’s a continuing theme of war. Soldiers fight so that others may live in freedom. How does that thought sit with you—that others died so that you may live?


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