CAMP POLK. La. — Unit citations awarded to all members of the 1st Marine Division. Reinforced, recently caught up with two Regional Hospital medical officers now at Camp Polk, who were with the famous Americal Division which went into Guadalcanal with the Marines under M-Gen. Alexander A. Vandergrift.
Lt.-Col. Martin A. Berezin, of Norwood, chief of the hospital’s neuropsychiatric service, and Capt. William E. Hunt, ward officer in the women’s wards, were presented the citations by Col. William S. Dow. hospital commander and camp surgeon. after their arrival here from Washington.
The citation, a bit unusual in that it is a navy document awarded the soldiers who reinforced the Marines as well as the Marines themselves, is dated February 4, 1943, and reads as follows:
TEXT OF CITATION
‘‘The officers and enlisted men of the First Marine Division. Reinforced. on August 7 to 9, 1942. demonstrated outstanding gallantry and determination in successfully executing forced landing assaults against a number of strongly defended Japanese positions on Tulagi. Guvutu. Tanambog. Florida and Guadalcanal. British Solomon Islands, completely routing all the enemy forces and seizing a most valuable base and airfield within the enemy zone of operations in the South Pacific Ocean. From the above period until DecembeiM942 this Reinforced Division not only held their important strategic positions despite determined and repeated Japanese naval, air and land attacks, but by a series of offensive operations against strong enemy resistance drove the Japanese from the proximity of the airfield and inflicted great losses on them by land and air attacks. The courage and determination displayed in these operations were of an inspiring order.’’
Henderson Field is the airfield referred to in the citation which is signed by the late Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox.
Col. Berezin and Cant. Hunt had varied army careers dating from January 194.1 and October 1941, respectively, meeting for the first time on New Caledonia when the Americal Division was being formed.
Col. Berezin, who left the states in January. 1942, as a captain in command of a medical regiment and had worked up to major in command of the medical battalion which contained the first army hospital to go into Guadalcanal, was promoted to lieutenant colonel at the age of 30 and made division surgeon of the Americal Division in March of 1943. a month after complete occupation of Guadalcanal by U. S. forces.
ON SAME INVASION BOAT
Capt. Hunt, who was a medical officer in a field artillery battalion and the colonel went into Guadalcanal on the same boat from New Caledonia on November 12. a few days after the American invasion of the island got underway.
Both officers have a few stories about their experiences in Guadalcanal. The colonel, for instance, had a close one on Friday the 13th, his second day on the island when he struck a land mine with his peep which he was driving about on reconnaissance for a good spot to set up his hospital.
“The peep was wrecked.” Col. Berezin said, “But I escaped without injury.”
Capt. Hunt, who left his battalion whenever his duties would spare him to assist in the surgery at the hospital during the first and heavy casualties of the campaign, says the peep wreckage became a landmark for the troops.
Both have been subjected to Jap air attacks, one of which killed four patients and wounded several personnel in the colonel’s hospital.
Col. Berezin returned to the States 17 months ago and was chief of neuropsychiatry. Army Ground Forces, at Fort Meade. Md., before going to Polk last March. Capt. Hunt, who comes from Fort Worth, preceded the colonel to Polk, arriving in December 1943.
Col. Berezin is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Sam Berezin of 42 Chapel street, Norwood.