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Pacific Time on Target

Memoirs of a Marine Artillery Officer, 1943–1945

Christopher S. Donner , Jack H. McCall

Publication Year: 2012

The gritty combat memoir of a Marine Corps artilleryman and forward observer

As a married man and Stanford graduate student nearing thirty, Christopher Donner would likely have qualified for an exemption from the draft. Like most of his generation, however, he responded promptly to the call to arms after Pearl Harbor. His wartime experiences in the Pacific Theater were seared into his consciousness, and in early 1946 he set out to preserve those memories while they were still fresh. Sixty-five years later, Donner’s memoir is now available to the public.

Published by: The Kent State University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. viii

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Editor’s Note A Brief Reader’s Aid as to Unit Types and Designations

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pp. ix-x

In the U.S. Army and Marine Corps, the smallest self-contained combat unit is the company (approximately 150 to 200 men, depending on the precise branch of service and tables of organization), which is known in artillery units as a battery (and in cavalry and armored units as a troop) and which is typically commanded...

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pp. xi-xii

First and foremost, my most profound thanks are due to the man who wrote these memoirs, Christopher S. Donner: first, for having taken the time and the emotional energy necessary, not that very long after war’s end, to record his experiences for posterity, and second, after many years of holding his memoirs purely...

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pp. 1-16

It takes a special man who, having married the girl of his dreams after graduating from Princeton and having just become a new father only a matter of days after the Pearl Harbor attack, decides to volunteer for the rigors of Marine officers’ training and subsequent combat duty. It is a truly lucky man...

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1 April to June 1943

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pp. 17-28

It was probably inevitable that I would have the urge to write the following account. To one who has had a habit of writing journals and diaries, the military censorship of mail and prohibition of personal records was repressive, even if fully justified.1 Now...

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2 June 30, 1943, to December 27, 1944

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pp. 29-46

It rained that night, June 30, 1943. I slept fitfully until near 2:00 a.m., when I dressed and reported to the bridge for watch. There was some excitement among the personnel topside. Ten minutes before my arrival, one of our Ninth Defense radar operators, a boy who had been in my replacement company, had jumped...

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3 December 27, 1944, to March 31, 1945

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pp. 47-57

I finally called Madge’s friend, Mrs. Ben Dillingham, who, with her husband, entertained me at lunch in a lovely home near the University of Hawaii. I felt so awkward in a civilized house that I all but fell on my face, and I did spill a cocktail on the lounge. But I liked the Dillinghams, and I enjoyed myself...

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4 April 1 to April 12, 1945

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pp. 58-76

Breakfast was served at 0330 on April 1. We received oranges, cereal, steak, potatoes, boiled eggs, and coffee. I ate heartily of as much as I could and then stuffed a couple of eggs in my knapsack. Everything was checked and rechecked, ready to go. It had been decided that I should take my entire FO team...

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5 April 12 to May 6, 1945

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pp. 77-89

It was after our hectic return from duty with the Ninety-sixth Division that Colonel Roe made his decision to give all battery officers a turn at the FO duty. From then on, he was no longer a merely unpopular man: he was hated by those who thought of themselves as safe behind the guns. Not one of the officers was..

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6 May 7 to June 11, 1945

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pp. 90-110

The morning was cold and drenching. We couldn’t build a fire; the attack was postponed twenty-four hours; and we just stood and shivered. I was so wet and cold that all my skin shriveled and whitened from exposure. We tried digging a bank...

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7 June 11 to August 14, 1945

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pp. 111-115

As Battery Exec for the next few days, I fired from a semirecumbent position, having little reserve after four days of “trots.” On June 14, the Battalion displaced forward to a position in sugar cane fields just back of Zawa. Our principal activity now was that of stopping Jap soldiers who were trying to escape from...

Appendix A

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pp. 116-117

Appendix B

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pp. 118-119

Appendix C

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pp. 120

Appendix D

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pp. 121


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pp. 123-131


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pp. 132-136


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pp. 137-145


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pp. 159-183

E-ISBN-13: 9781612776279
E-ISBN-10: 1612776272
Print-ISBN-13: 9781606351208

Page Count: 160
Publication Year: 2012

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Donner, Christopher S., 1912-.
  • United States. Marine Corps. Marine Regiment, 11th.
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Campaigns -- Pacific Area.
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Artillery operations, American.
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Personal narratives, American.
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Regimental histories -- United States.
  • Artillerymen -- United States -- Biography.
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