The following pictures were submitted by Phil Scearce, son of TSgt. Herman Scearce, who has written a book about his father's exploits during the war as part of the 11th Bombardment Group (H). I have also included a short excerpt from his book "Finish Forty and Home" due to be published in August 2011. The book maybe pre-ordered though most of the big book stores.
Excerpt from Finish Forty and Home: Air Raid
Sometime after midnight, the air raid signal sounded. A shrill, piercing siren, ten second blasts at five second intervals, caused the men to stir. Marines ran from tent to tent, yelling "Air raid! Air raid!" Scearce and his heavy-eyed crew mates half-heartedly swung their legs to the ground, assuming this was someone's idea of a joke, or maybe a drill.
Then a Marine Corps antiaircraft battery opened fire, boom...boom...boom... and the men knew immediately it was no drill. They scrambled in the dark to pull on flight suits and ran out of their tent. Now aircraft could be heard, but the direction was indistinct, there was just the sound of unsynchronized aircraft engines overhead. A familiar voice shouted, "Get in the hole! Get in the hole!"
There was a shallow hole near the crew's tent, and Scearce piled in on top of his crew mates. Falling bombs made menacing whistling sounds while explosions threw orange flashes about tree tops and tents, casting silhouettes of men running. The smell was pungent, like sulfur, or a spent shotgun shell.
Forty terrified villagers huddled inside the Missionary Church, praying that its concrete walls would save them. Marine Corps Corporal Fonnie Black Ladd ran into the church, calling for the people to get out, imploring them to get away from the church, to take cover elsewhere. He knew that the church was an obvious target for the Japanese.
A salvo of bombs stepped toward the hole containing the men of Dogpatch Express, its pattern of explosions growing louder and closer and coming straight. Scearce held the sides of his helmet with both clenched fists, trying desperately to fit under it. Knees to his chest, teeth gritted and eyes squeezed tight, Scearce knew the next one whistling toward them would be very close.
With a terrific whang! the bomb hit the ordnance truck parked just a few feet away. Dirt and metal rained down. In the next second, a hissing cylinder landed in the men's tiny hole, right on top of Elmer Johnson. For a moment, the men of Dogpatch Express could hear nothing, then the sensation of sound returned with a high-pitched ringing, and the powerful stench of explosives filled their nostrils. Scearce's mind raced. "This is it," he thought. The metal cylinder continued to hiss, but the men didn't move, afraid they could cause it to explode. Johnson was afraid to even breathe.
While the hissing weakened, the whistling of falling bombs and their terrific explosions finally stopped. Voices were audible now, agonized screams, cries for help, shouts, people giving orders. The enemy aircraft could be heard again, leaving the island toward the north, toward Tarawa. There was crackling and popping and strange metallic groans; planes were burning. In the dim light of early morning, with gray-black smoke stinging their eyes, the enlisted men of Dogpatch Express accounted for each other.