Platok Island, South Pacific,
“In war, you win or lose, live or die – and the difference is an eyelash.” — General Douglas MacArthur
In the opening minutes of the beach landing, Sergeant Albert “Al” Zabloski found himself and his entire squad under heavy artillery and machine gun fire.
Just as the amtrac he was on landed on the beach, it took a direct artillery hit to the front killing the entire crew. Sgt. Zabloski quickly ordered his men off the amtrac and on to the beach.
He then ordered his squad to move up the beach. the loose sand hampering their advance. The bodies of Marines who had earlier attempted to storm the beach were scattered throughout the beach. To make matters worse, a thick fog had settled on the island. Visibility was limited to no more than twenty yards at best.
Through the dense fog, Sgt. Zabloski saw the muzzle fire of two machine gun emplacements farther up the beach. Knowing his squad may not survive if they remained on the beach, he charged forward and lead his men through a barrage of machine gun fire.
After reaching the southern edge of the beach, Sgt. Zabloski and his squad had to contend with a steep sand dune of loose sand. At the top, and within sight, were the gun emplacements. Japanese soldiers were spewing hot lead down on the beach from two MG 96 machine guns. Other Imperial soldiers, hidden behind sandbags and a trench connecting the two emplacements, were shooting down on the marines trying to make their way up the dune.
Undeterred, Sgt. Zabloski gave the orders for his men to capture the machine gun nests. And even when the marines successfully took the machine gun nests, it was with heavy losses.
While his men regrouped, Zabloski along with another marine went back down to the beach to help the wounded.
While tending to the wounded, two waves of Japanese soldiers tried to push the marines back. This time, the Japanese were nearly victorious. More marines were killed in the attempt by the Japanese to recapture the gun emplacements.
In the last wave Zabloski found himself alone, fighting against nearly a dozen Japanese soldiers. A well-tossed grenade took out several of the Japanese soldiers. After, Sgt. Zabloski engaged the enemy in hand-to-hand combat killing four Japanese soldiers alone.
Despite the loss of most of his rifle squad, Sgt. Zabloski successfully captured the Japanese machine gun emplacements.
For his gallantry against overwhelming odds in the face of the enemy, Sergeant Albert ‘Al’ Zabloski was awarded the Silver Star Medal.
Sergeant Albert ‘Al’ Zabloski
USMC 1st Marine Division, 2nd Battalion, Foxtrot Company, 2nd Rifle Platoon, 2nd Rifle Squad