William Hiram Mays

BRANCH OF SERVICE
U.S. Army

HOMETOWN
Austin, TX

HONORED BY
John C. Burkhardt, SVC MOPH, Chapter 1919, Austin, Texas

ACTIVITY DURING WWII

AGE 17 AND WAS IN HIS SECOND YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL WHEN HE ENLISTED IN THE MARINE CORPS IN OCTOBER 1943. HE WAS SENT TO MONTFORD POINT AT CAMP LEJEUNE, NORTH CAROLINA, WHERE HE WAS ASSIGNED TO THE 20TH MARINE DEPOT COMPANY. HE REPORTED FOR DUTY JUST AS LARGE NUMBERS OF BLACK MARINE RECRUITS WERE BEING FORMED INTO AMMUNITION AND DEPOT COMPANIES, ALL AT MONTFORD POINT. ONCE TRAINED THEY WERE SHIPPED TO THE PACIFIC THEATER. THEY FIRST SAW ACTION ON ON JUNE 15, 1944, WHEN THEY WERE SENT ASHORE IN THE THIRD WAVE DURING THE FIRST DAY OF THE INVASION OF SAIPAN, LANDING ON YELLOW BEACH. THEIR PRIMARY DUTIES WERE TO MOVE SUPPLIES FROM THE SHIP TO SHORE AND TO THE SHORE PARTY OPERATIONS. AS THEY BROUGHT THE SUPPLIES ASHORE UNDER HEAVY ENEMY FIRE, THE 20TH DEPOT COMPANY BECAME THE FIRST BLACK MARINES TO SEE COMBAT ACTION. NEXT THEY SHIPPED OUT TO ONCE AGAIN SEE ACTION DURING THE INVASION OF OKINAWA. THEY WERE LATER SENT TO TSINGTAO, IN NORTHERN CHINA TO GUARD THE JAPANESE PRISONERS AND CIVILIANS TO BE SHIPPED BACK TO JAPAN, ENDING THEIR OCCUPATION OF CHINA. ONCE THAT MISSION WAS COMPLETED THEY SAILED ABOARD THE ATTACK TRANSPORT, USS BOLIVAR TO SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA AND TRANSPORTED TO CAMP PENDELTON, CALIFORNIA WHERE HE WAS DISCHARGED ON FEBRUARY 21, 1946.