One of the major impediments to the Marine attack was a Japanese
machine gun placed in a hole in the base of one of the water tanks.
Quartermaster Sergeant John E. Haskin and Sergeant Major Thomas F.
Sweeney ran under fire and climbed up the cement water tower in the
predawn darkness. The two Marines did not expect to survive the
battle, and their comrades knew that both would attempt some extreme
action during the expected fighting. Marine Gunner Ferrell talked to
Sweeney as he led his men into action that morning. Sweeney said as
they parted, "Well, this is it. We've been in the Marine Corps for
15 years and this is what we've been waiting for. If I don't see
you, that's the way it is."
The two Marines now lobbed
grenades into the Japanese positions, promptly destroying the
machine gun in the water tank. Captain Brook remembered, "A Marine
sergeant . . . gathered an armful of hand grenades and climbed to
the top of a stone water tower near our front line. From here, he
threw them at a Japanese sniper position and succeeded in knocking
it out." Another Marine, Corporal Sidney E. Funk, was crawling
beside the water tank when he heard a voice call down, "Hey Funk,
those bastards are right over there in the brush. If I had enough
hand grenades, I'd blow the hell out of them." Funk had no idea who
the voice belonged to and quickly crawled away for cover.
drawing fire to themselves, Haskin and Sweeney continued to have
some initial success, destroying at least one more machine gun.
However, their supply of grenades was soon exhausted and Haskin was
killed while reclimbing the tower with more ammunition. Sweeney was
killed soon after. The two "were very close friends in life,"
remembered Quartermaster Clerk Frank W. Ferguson, "it was most
fitting that they should go out together."
courtesy of 61st Infantry Association