Presented by the Laurens County Historical Society, Dublin, Georgia. For questions and information, please contact Scott B. Thompson, Sr. at dublinhistory@yahoo.com.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

CHANDLER MAURICE BEASLEY, SR.


Always Faithful


Chandler was eating lunch in a small café when the world was turned upside down. One day after his eighteenth birthday, Beasley had no too much to worry about. He had a job at Snow's Laundry in Milledgeville. The country was at peace or so it appeared. Beasley and most everyone else knew that the world was at war, but at home, the war seemed so far away.

By the fall of 1939, a war with Germany was on the minds of everyone. When the National Guard mobilized a year later, Beasley entertained the very real thought of joining up after his graduation from high school.

As the U.S. Marine Corps was heavily engaged in the Battle of Guadalcanal, Chandler Maurice Beasley decided to join the Marines. He and a buddy were shipped off across the country to San Diego. After seven weeks of grueling training, Beasley was off for even more training. On the first anniversary of the war, Beasley was traveling aboard a train bound for Chicago and guard duty at the Navy Pier. For ten months, he trained in the Aviation Maintenance School before reporting for duty with the 3rd Marine Air Wing.

"We finally boarded a ship and arrived in the Caroline Islands group in the Pacific in mid October 1944," Beasley recalled. His unit's mission was to convert Ulithi Atoll, a jungle about the size of two city blocks, into an airstrip. Once the construction was complete, the installation would become one of the most advanced in the Pacific, primarily to be used to launch F6F Hell Cat fighter to protect the fleet anchorage from night attacks.

"We worked twenty-four hours around the clock and life was not all that exciting," Beasley recalled. "I think the biggest excitement the Japanese came up with were five suicidal mini submarines and they tried to send them into the fleet anchorage there at the end," Beasley concluded.

Beasley vividly remembered that in February of 1945, his unit was split into two groups. One was the assault group. "We boarded ship at that time headed for Okinawa. We did not know we were going to Okinawa. But that's where we wound up. We left the aircraft and the rest of the squadron back in the Carolines and we went down to the Philippines and lay around there for a while before taking off for Okinawa. We had no idea where we were going," he recollected.

"I woke up one morning and went out on the deck and every ship in the world was there! This was just before D-Day in April. We were in a convoy the day before; it was really not that large. During the night everything rendezvoused there at Okinawa. Somebody got the word out! I had never seen so many ships in all my life." the Marine exclaimed.

Then there was the never to be forgotten day when Chandler was sorting through his much over due shipment of mail, hoping to find out something about his father's poor condition. "When I came out, all hell broke loose. We were hit by a surprise kamikaze attack. I'm telling you that was quite an experience! The ship on the left side of us took a bomb. The ship on the immediate right side of us had a kamikaze plane crash into it. So we were right in the middle of it and it was no fun," Beasley remembered.

On Holy Easter Sunday, the U.S. Navy and the Marine Corps launched the largest naval invasion in the Pacific theater of the war. In the beginning, Japanese resistance was not as strong as was feared. Soon, those fears were realized. "We were hit pretty heavy most every night. We suffered the most casualties at night," Beasley said.

Things began to settle down by the end of May although suicide bomber attacks continued to rattle the troops on the ground and the ships off the shore. Then there was the night when thirteen stripped down "Betty Bombers" approached the airstrip at Yontan. "One plane made it and I'm telling you, they created more hell around that strip. We had people from the unit that were down there that night right in the middle of it," he recalled.

"They were evidently well informed and they knew where the ammo dumps and fuel dumps were and started blowing them up. You just didn't dare stick your head above the ground. It was that rough," the former Tech Sergeant Beasley said.

As things began to settle down into a normal routine, the war was suddenly over. "Thank God for the Atom bomb. I say that because we were packing up getting ready to invade Japan. Only God knows what that would have been," Beasley stated.

Beasley bided his time racking up enough to points to go home. After a few weeks of delay, he was headed home, home for Christmas aboard the USS Altamaha. Chandler Beasley didn't quite make it home for Christmas. But he did get the gift he wished for. On Boxing Day, Beasley was discharged from the Marine Corps.

Beasley's service to his country was not over, not at all. After a three-year respite, he rejoined the Marine Reserves for a two-year hitch. "I wanted to keep my hand in it. The only reason I had chosen the Marine Reserves, I couldn't get into any active Reserve unit."

In 1954, a National Guard unit in Dublin was reestablished. Beasley joined the unit and served for thirty-three years before retiring as a Command Sergeant Major. "All in all, it was a great ride. It was a riot, but it was something you wouldn't want to go through twice," Beasley fondly remembered.

As was the case with many of the members of the "Greatest Generation," Chandler Beasley returned home to serve his community with distinction and pride, nearly forty years of military service and thirty-two years as a rural mail carrier in Dexter, Georgia. Beasley is still active in his new home, living with other veterans at the VA Hospital. In fact, he now supplies many of his new buddies with greens from his garden on the grounds.

Beasley and his wife, Bettye Scott Beasley, were the proud parents of four sons, Scott, Chandler, Jr., Danny and Willie.

And today, nearly seventy years after World War II began, CSM Chandler M. Beasley is still ready to serve his country if called upon. That is because Chandler Beasley loves America and because Chandler Beasley is still a Marine. Semper Fi!









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