Marine Sergeant Al Schmid - September '96 World War II Feature | HistoryNet

Marine Sergeant Al Schmid – September ’96 World War II Feature

8/19/1996 • World War II


Marine Sergeant Al Schmid lost an eye while heroically manning a machine gun in bloody fighting on Guadalcanal.

By William B. Allmon

In 1945, Warner Brothers released a movie titled Pride of the Marines, based on a book by Roger Butterfield, starring John Garfield, Eleanor Parker and Dane Clark. Both the book and the film were based on the life and experiences of a unique American hero, Marine Sergeant Albert “Al” Schmid. Al Schmid fought at Guadalcanal, and when he came home, he fought another battle, for sanity, health and happiness.

Born in 1920, the son of Mr. and Mrs Adolph E. Schmid, Al grew up a cheerful, freckle-faced kid in Burholme, Pa., a Philadelphia neighborhood. After his mother died, Schmid was on his own. He worked on farms and other odd jobs. In 1940, he became an apprentice burner at the Dodge Steel Company in northeast Philadelphia, near the Delaware River.

Since he could not afford his own place, Schmid lived with fellow Dodge Steel worker Jim Merchant and his wife, Ella Mae, in a row house on Tulip Street near the Tacoma-Palmyra bridge. While living with the Merchants, Schmid met Ruth Hartley, a friend of the family, who worked at a Sears department store in Philadelphia. In time, Schmid fell in love with Ruth, whom he called “Babs.”‘

On Sunday, December 7, 1941, Schmid was sprawled out on the floor of Jim Merchant’s house, looking at the paper and trying to get up the energy to get dressed for a date he had with Ruth that night.

Then, all of a sudden, the radio stopped playing dance music; a voice relayed the startling news that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor.

Thinking it was a joke, Schmid tuned in another station. Pretty soon they said the same thing. “All this time,” Schmid remembered, “I was lying there like a dumb cluck, not thinking of it; finally I called to Jim, and said, ‘Hey, Jim, the radio keeps saying there is a war with Japan–where the hell is Pearl Harbor?'” Then he got dressed and took Ruth ice skating. Ruth did not learn about Pearl Harbor (Schmid didn’t tell her) until she came home later that evening.

For a day or so, Schmid could not see how the war affected him. Then things changed. He talked to Ruth about enlisting in the Marines, but she didn’t take him seriously; he was always talking big. On December 9, 1941, he told her, “I’m in. I went down to the Custom House and signed up.”

Schmid left Philadelphia on January 5, 1942. After recruit training at Parris Island, S.C., and further training at New River, N.C., he returned to Philadelphia on a short leave before heading for “destination unknown.” He collected a bonus from Dodge Steel for his work during 1941 and used the money to buy an engagement ring for Ruth.

Soon afterward, Schmid boarded the troop transport George F. Elliot as part of the 11th Machine Gun Squad, Company H, 2nd Battalion, 1st Regiment, 1st Marine Division. On August 7, 1942, the 10,000 men of the 1st Marine Division, under Maj. Gen. Alexander Archer Vandegrift, the largest Marine force ever engaged in landing operations up to that time, assaulted Guadalcanal, beginning the first American offensive against the Japanese.

The Marines had expected a counterattack the moment they landed, but encountered no real opposition during their first two weeks. Then the Japanese sent a crack army regiment commanded by Colonel Kiyono Ichiki from Rabaul to retake Guadalcanal. Ichiki landed his elite troops on Guadalcanal on August 18, then marched west toward Marine positions along the Ilu River (mismarked on the American maps as the Tenaru). Lieutenant Colonel Edwin Pollock’s 2nd Marine Battalion was waiting.

H Company’s machine-gun squad was there also. Schmid and two other Marines, Corporal Leroy Diamond and Pfc John Rivers, manned a .30-caliber water-cooled machine gun inside a sandbag-and-log emplacement camouflaged with palm fronds and jungle greenery. The position was on the west bank of the Ilu, which was 50 yards wide at that point.

At 3 a.m., August 21, 1942, Ichiki, confident of victory, attacked by the sickly green light of flares. The Japanese yelled, jabbered and fired machine guns, trying to force the Marines to reveal their positions. The Marines held their fire.

Across the river from their nest, Schmid saw a dark, bobbing mass at the edge of the water. “It looked like a herd of cattle coming down to drink,” he remembered. Fifty Japanese crossed the river yelling, “Marine, tonight you die,” and “Banzai,” firing their rifles as they came.

Johnny Rivers opened up on them, and the mass broke up. Screams of rage and pain came from the other side as the Japanese concentrated everything they had on Schmid’s position and on another machine-gun position 150 yards downstream. Bullets whined past the Marines’ heads, throwing mud and wood chips around them. Schmid’s heart pounded rapidly.

The machine gun on their right stopped firing, put out of action. Then a dozen bullets tore into Rivers’ face, killing him. His finger froze on the trigger, sending 200 rounds into the darkness. Cold rage rising in him, Schmid shoved Rivers’ body out of the way and took over the gun. Corporal Diamond got in position to load it for him.

Every time Schmid raked the attacking Japanese he heard them yelling as bullets ripped into them. He heard one particular Japanese officer “screeching and barking commands at the others; he had a nasty shrill voice that stood out over the others.” Schmid fired a burst at the voice, but failed to silence it. It would haunt him for years.

Diamond then was hit in the arm, the bullet knocking him partially across Schmid’s feet. He could not load anymore, but while Schmid fired the gun, Diamond stood beside him, spotting targets. Schmid would fire across the river to the left, feel Diamond hitting him hard on the arm and pointing to the right, swing the gun and hear Japanese yelling as his bullets hit them.

Schmid now was both loading and firing the machine gun. When he got close to the end of a 300-round belt of ammunition, Diamond would punch his arm. Schmid would fire a burst, rip open the magazine, insert a new belt and resume firing. At one point a Japanese soldier put a string of bullets through the .30 caliber’s water jacket. Water spurted over Schmid’s lap and chest; the gun crackled and overheated but did not jam.

Schmid continued loading and firing the machine gun for more than four hours, with and without help. Somehow a Japanese soldier got through the body-choked stream and got close enough to throw a hand grenade into Schmid’s position.

“There was a blinding flash and explosion,” Schmid recalled. “My helmet was knocked off. Something struck me in the face.” When he put his hand up, all he felt was blood and raw flesh. Then he felt pain in his left shoulder, arm and hand. He could see nothing. He collapsed on his back in the nest. “They got me in the eyes,” he muttered to Diamond, who lay beside him.

The Japanese were still pouring bullets into the machine-gun position; Schmid reached around to his holster and took out his .45. Diamond heard him fussing with it and yelled, “Don’t do it, Smitty, don’t shoot yourself.”

“Hell, don’t worry about that,” Schmid said. “I’m going to get the first Jap that tries to come in here!”

“But you can’t see,” Diamond reminded him.

“Just tell me which way he’s coming from and I’ll get him,” Schmid replied.

Both men were helpless in the hole, and it was getting light. A sniper in a tree across the river was firing almost straight down at them. The only thing protecting them was the shelf where the machine gun stood, about 2 feet in diameter.

Although his sight had not come back, Schmid took his position between the spread rear tripod legs of the machine gun, squeezed the trigger and, with Diamond yelling directions in his ear, resumed firing at the Japanese across the river.

Private Whitey Jacobs, one of the squad’s members, braved the continuous Japanese gunfire, jumped into the nest and staunched Schmid’s and Diamond’s wounds. The next thing Schmid knew, they were taking him out on a blanket. He had the .45 automatic in his hand. Hearing his lieutenant’s voice, Schmid held out the gun. “I guess I won’t need this anymore, sir,” he said. Then Schmid passed out.

All night the Japanese continued their assaults, but the Marines’ anti-tank guns, machine guns and artillery cut Ichiki’s men down. At dawn, when it was clear the position would hold, Vandegrift sent a reserve battalion across the river to attack the Japanese from their flank and rear. Of the 800 Japanese who attacked across the Ilu on August 21, only 14 wounded were picked up, and one was captured unhurt. The rest were killed. Ichiki burned his regimental colors and committed suicide.The number of bodies counted within range of Al Schmid’s machine gun ran into the hundreds. The other Marines who were there that night credited him with killing at least 200 Japanese.

Schmid was put on a hospital ship and sent back to the United States. He was admitted to the naval hospital at San Diego, Calif., on October 20, 1943, where he endured many operations to remove shell fragments from his face and eyes. His recovery was helped by the care and understanding of Virginia Pfeiffer, a Red Cross worker in the hospital, who wrote a four-page letter to Ruth explaining Schmid’s wounds. “Today he told me he might as well let you know,” she wrote. “He has lost one eye, and the other is seriously damaged. The doctors will not know for several months whether he will have any sight in that eye.” Virginia encouraged Ruth to keep writing to Schmid. On February 18, 1943, Schmid received the Navy Cross “for extraordinary heroism and outstanding courage.” He went to Washington, D.C., and was commended by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

In Philadelphia, a parade was given in Schmid’s honor, and the Philadelphia Inquirer presented him with its Hero Award and $1,000. In New Orleans, Schmid received the key to the city. Articles about him appeared in Life and Cosmopolitan magazines, and a book, Al Schmid–Marine, was written by Roger Butterfield. In 1944 Warner Brothers studio began production on a movie based on Butterfield’s book, Pride of the Marines, starring John Garfield.

Before he began the movie, Garfield went to Philadelphia, met the real Al Schmid, became his friend, lived in his home, and studied him. Garfield also spent two weeks at the San Diego Naval Hospital, studying the characteristics and mental attitudes of blind casualties. Pride of the Marines was released in 1945 and became an instant hit.

Schmid never thought of himself as a hero. “When I came back I was the most disgusted man you ever saw. I didn’t want to bother to do anything. I could see people looking away from my ugly scars. They wouldn’t want to associate with me. I even told my girl it was all over.”

Ruth would not take no for an answer. She and Schmid were married in April 1943. In June 1944, she gave birth to a son, Albert A. Schmid, Jr. The publicity generated by the marriage had brought a flood of requests for war bond, hospital and charity appearances.

Although he didn’t want to go, Schmid accepted all of the invitations. “I wanted to help the boys, and at the same time I was helping myself,” he explained. “I got used to people again. Any time anyone wanted me, I was there, whether there was a little profit or all for charity.”

Schmid was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps Reserve on December 9, 1944. After an unsuccessful bid in politics, he and his family moved to Florida so he could be close to Bay Pines Veterans Hospital in St. Petersburg. Schmid regained partial eyesight in his remaining eye and spent his years pursuing his hobbies of organ-playing, ham radio and fishing. One of his proudest moments was catching a 130-pound tarpon off Long Boat Key.

Al Schmid died of bone cancer on December 2, 1982, in St. Petersburg. He was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery. *

50 Responses to Marine Sergeant Al Schmid – September ’96 World War II Feature

  1. Adrienne Shearer says:

    I just watch Pride of the Marines on Turner Classic Movies and became curious to acquire more information about Al Schmid.

    Thank you for having such an indepth article about him. I really enjoyed reading it.

  2. Welton Mc/callister says:

    The movie was great Pride of the Marines. I am a formal Marine I severed Jan. 1970 Jan.1972. I sure would like to have met Al.

  3. William Rivers Freedman says:

    Why did Schmid get most of the credit for stopping the Japanese attack? There were two other Marines in the position. The gun commander, Corporal Leroy Diamond and gunner P.F.C. John Rivers suffered/contributed as much or more than Schmid. Also no mention is given to the other two machine gun and 37mm anti-tank gun emplacements and their crews. It was though those crews weren’t in the Battle of the Ilu. Could it have been the Washington spin doctors, needing a real live AMERICAN HERO after the crushing defeats of Pearl Harbor, the Philippines and elsewhere in the Pacific couldn’t use Diamond(too Jewish) or Rivers(Native American and dead). Schmid was perfect. White Anglo-Saxon, Protestant, alive and blind, perfect. They promoted him to Sargent, gave him the Navy Cross and carted him off to sell War Bonds. I wonder what Lee Diamond did for the rest of the War?

    • BW says:

      Lee Diamond was awarded the Navy Cross as well. The man was blinded and still manned and fired a machine gun at the enemy. I think that’s worthy of being honored regardless of race, creed or religion. What a dope.

  4. Lisa M. Hawkins says:

    To Mr. William R. Freedman:

    I’m Jewish; Philadelphian – born and bred (not far from where Al Schmid grew up); my late Father was a WWII veteran; and I think your remarks are out of line – in other words, unkind to say the least! I believe Sgt. Schmid was a real hero – I believe ALL Americans who have done active duty are heroes! To quibble about ethnic group or race is PC nonsense – Al Schmid’s life wasn’t exactly “easy street” despite his deserved honors.

    I was born in ’55 and though I knew several Vietnam veterans (in my age cohort), most young men I knew wouldn’t have dreamed of sacrificing a fingernail for this nation! My Father and my uncles all faced the music as infantrymen in Europe and The Philippines; fortunately they didn’t suffer the devastating wounds that Al Schmid did.

    There are many reasons to be discouraged today – the decline of American (and western civ) culture and values are among them. Let’s not rip into a decent man who truly made sacrifices – a real Defender of Freedom. Your surname may not be “Freedman” for nothing, ya know!

  5. Andrew N. Bader says:

    I am a cousin of Coporal Leroy Diamond. He was born in 1917 and will be 92 this month. He lives in Rosedale, Queens in NYC. Hed worked many years as a plumber and was present at the opening of the Marine Museum in Virginia. I have video taped he talking about his war experiences and wish someone making a documentary about WWII would interview him as well as he is not getting any younger.

  6. George Monaghan says:

    God bless Sgt Schnid and Cpl

  7. George Monaghan says:

    SemperFi ! Cpl Diamond…

  8. William Rivers Freedman says:

    To Lisa M. Hawkins

    I never besmirched Al Schmid’s courage or the sacrifice of his sight. My frustration was and still is with the Washington Bureaucrats( I called them spin doctors) who didn’t think Americans were ready for their heroes to be anything other than Wasps. Remember, at the time , Japanese Americans were being held in concentration camps, the Armed Forces were still segregated, most Americans thought stories of the Holocaust were propaganda and Native Americans didn’t have full citizenship! My remarks are far from P.C. bullshit they are the facts. All of the men who fought and died that night, in America’s first World War Two victory, should have been given credit for a job well and gallantly done.
    I simply wrote the truth of the matter. If one does a cursory study of the Battle of the Ilu/Tenaru River very little mention(if any)can be found of the other participants of the Battle. It will appear as if only one gun emplacement was guarding the tidal lagoon known variously as Alligator Creek(a misnomer, no alligators in the Solomon Islands) the Tenaru River(mismarked on Marine Corp maps) or properly the Ilu River. Finally, after some additional research, I learned Corporal Lee Diamond, after recovering from his wounds, was sent back to his outfit and survived the War. For some futher reading about how Schmid’s Hero status affected his relationship with others; especially Lee Diamond; read “The body and physical differences:discourses of disability” Mitchell&Snyder, 1997.

    P.S. P.F.C. John Rivers is my Uncle, my Mother’s Brother. Before the war, He fought as a welterweight under the name Indian Johnny Rivers. Born across the River in New Jersey he grew up in Quakertown, Pa. and made his home in Philly for several years prior to the war.

  9. William Rivers Freedman says:

    There is a documentary on just about every battle, insurgence, or mission in any war. Declared or not. We see the same information about said battle over and over again. Maybe it is time to examine the Battle of Ilu River. Clp. Diamond’s own cousin states that no one has ever tried to interview him. People have gone to Japan and Germany to interview the other side to get their side of the war.Don’t you think it’s about time to have a conversation with Clp Diamond. Time is running out, he’s 92. He’s on our side. I want to hear what he has to say.

  10. William Rivers Freedman says:

    To: Andrew Bader cousin of Leroy Diamond,

    Noted historical writer William Bartsch is presently writing a book about the Battle of the Ilu River. He is striving to make the record straight and give credit where credit is due. He and I have been in contact. I have given him copies of letters my Uncle(PFC Rivers) wrote home to his Sister, my Mmom. I would love to talk to you and see the videos you have made. If you are agreeable let me know through this medium.

  11. jack turso says:

    Lets not forget Gunnery Sgt John Basilone,in the same theater with his machine gun crew..bless their souls..

  12. jack turso says:

    In retrospect Mr Schmid should have won the medal of Honor.There were at least three of his buddies there to witness the action,as well as his loader who was wounded and just as gutsy..Bless em all .One footnote the HBO series portraying the Marines in the Pacific as well as the army seem to have left Schmids character out?? Ironicaly the incidents at the Li river were pretty close in yards ..We in our 60s today owe the freedoms we enjoy because of these kids at the time..Its not the same with the tought process today,in light of our brave people in Korea viet nam and the mideast,people at home dont seem to be as close as our parents generation were during them rough times…bless em all .

  13. jack turso says:

    mr monaghan ,there was a reason for interning 117,000 japanese americans during the war..fear of terrorisim..there was no acts of terror in spite of the internment..if you recall 5000 german americans were interned as well and unknown amount of italian americans..A opera singer and actor ezio pinza was also under a watchfull eye buy the feds
    Only reciently the decendents of the japanese families were awareded
    a sum of money for the lost of property and homes..the 442nd japanese regement highest decorated in the army..Everything happens for a reason.they were bad times and now we have worse times.also the aclu to defend lots of real perps..god bless our older generation.

  14. Priscilla Lowenthal says:

    I am the niece of Leroy Diamond. My Aunt Helen was married to Leroy. Aunt Helen and my father, Howard Lowenthal were sister and brother. Our familes were very close when we were growing up. Uncle Leroy and Aunt Helen lived in Rosedale, Queens, We lived in Brooklyn but we saw each othert every weekend. Leroy came home from the war a different person. He was a very quiet man now.. He worked as a plumber in a family realted business. Years later, I reconnected with Uncle Leroy. He still lived in Rosedale, Queens in the same modest house that he lived in since the 1940’s. My dad now lives in Florida but comes to New York every August. So for the past 3 years, we drove to Rosedale, Queens to spend time with my uncle. He was ecstatic to see us. He was very proud to be a Marine and he had all kinds of medals and awards. He was attending all veteran occassions and when he had the reunion with my dad, he was very emotional. My Aunt Helen is now in a nursing home and he was living alone in the house. We would spend the day with him, listening to him talk about the Marines, his awards but not in a bragging way. More like in a proud way. Uncle Leroy was so very proud to be an American and having the privilege to defend the right of freedom. A lot of veteran’s groups invited Uncle Leroy to their services and he was not able to travel alone so he hired a companion to go with him. Last August, before we visited him, he told me I have to see him real soon because he does not know how long he will be alive. My father and I made the trip to him as a priority. We wanted to see him one last time. We spent our yearly day with him, and when we kissed goodbye i knew it was our last August visit for us. A few months later he died. He was in poor health but he did not show his pain. He stayed active and hopepful. He was very proud of the movie “Pride of the Marines”. When they were making the movie, the director and producer invited Uncle Leroy to be a consultant on the movie. They wanted the movie to be authenic and wanted Uncle Leroy to tell them how the events really took place. When August 2010 comes around, I for one will miss Uncle Leroy. If you want to know what a Marine looks like, all you have to do is look at my Uncle Leroy and you will know everything about what a Marine should be. Yes, he was hero. he did not run, he did not hide, he fought the fight and held tight to the other 2 proud Marines that were with him. Also, he was very proud of the movie “Pride of the Marines”. Yes, because he did feel pride. He did not feel the glory. Only Priod to be Marine and an American who helped write a tiny bit of history. Go with G_D’s speed, Uncle :eroy. I will miss you.

    • jimbo potter says:


    • RTW says:

      Priscilla-thanks for your comments.I am watching Pride of the Marines today-Veterans Day 2014 and wondered what happend to your Uncle and Al after the war.My dad served in WW2 and Korea and my grandfather in WW1..they were of the”Greatest Generation” our country will never see such selfless men again….God Bless America

  15. Pinky says:

    Priscilla, thank you for posting that information. I saw the film “Pride of the Marines” for the first time last night and wanted to learn more about your uncle. If he was at all like his depiction in the film, he was a great friend as well as a great hero. My dad fought at Guadalcanal (Army) too, and now my son is a young Marine. God bless you and your family.

  16. Esther says:

    When I was a little girl, my dad would tell my sisters and me about a movie that was filmed in our neighborhood called “Pride of the Marines”. He told us many times about how the film crews were there and how he remembered everything from that whole experience as a boy. He grew up around the block from where Al Schmid lived with the Merchant family. Their daughter, Loretta, was a friend of his and when they were adults, Loretta married another friend of my dad’s. Joe and Loretta were godparents to one of my sisters. The neighborhood is called Tacony. The house where Al Schmid lived is still there.
    Last year for his birthday, I was finally able to purchase the DVD version of “Pride of the Marines”. Watching it and seeing the streets that I still drive by today as well as St. Leo’s Church in the distance, also still there, was quite nostalgic. I watched it last night on TCM channel and got that nostalgic feeling all over again.
    The bravery of Al and Lee Diamond and John Rivers as well, is exactly what our freedoms are all about and without men like them, we wouldn’t have the freedoms we take for granted today. On this Memorial Day weekend, please let us remember those that have fought and are still fighting today for our freedoms. America the Beautiful!

  17. Bobd says:

    Al Schmid, Lee Diamond and John Rivers were true heroes. They do not make men like that any more. I have watched Pride of the Marines several times and it only gets better. The HBO series ‘The Pacific” did not do justice to these three brave men who held the Japanese forces back and may have saved the battle for Guadelcanal.

    They are all together now in a better place.

  18. John Ford says:

    Dear Mr. Freedman,
    My name is John Ford, I was named after my uncle John Rivers. My Father was Joseph Ford, one of Johnny’s older brothers. Their mother was Lillian. Was your mother Betty or Hilda? We are trying to connect with the family in order to gain some information about any of them and of course to learn more about Johnny. We know Lillian’s children were in an orphanage in Philly in the 1930’s and they were sent to different farms/homes as young teens. We have a lot of information about him with regard to his heroism at Guadecanal and are very proud of his contribution. Please contact us through this medium asap

    • Art says:


      In the book “Helmet for my Pillow 1956” written by Robert Leckie (this book inspired the series “Pacific”), Leckie mentions the actions of your uncle Johnnie Rivers but not by name. He also mentions that he saw his MG crew from a short distance hold off the Japanese attack and their gun being knocked out.

      Although Leckie didn’t mention any names he mentioned that one of the guys that was killed was an Indian and didn’t get any credit for his heroism.

      I’ve been a fan of the movie “Pride of the Marines, (1945) since the 1960’s and a military historian most of my life. This movie actually inspired me to go in the USMC in 1980.

      I would like to know more about your uncle. If you have anything please send it to me, I would like to be able to honor this fellow Marine somehow if possible.

      • William Rivers Freedman says:

        The position which Schmid, Diamond and Rivers occupied held through the night and until relieved the next morning. There were two other machine gun positions as well as 37mm antitank guns which were over run by the Japanese.

    • Heather Seda says:

      Hi. I am Betty’s great granddaughter. We too have been searching for information about Johnny, you, and well, everyone. Please contact me at We would love to get to know family :)

    • carolyn freedman lewis says:

      hi john

      my name is carolyn elizabeth freedman lewis i am betty freedman daughter my family and i would love to hear from you

  19. William Rivers Freedman says:

    An Open Invitation to All

    Anyone wanting to know more about America’s First Victory in World War Two and three brave men, Corporal Leroy Diamond, Private First Class John Rivers and Private Albert Schmid United States Marines who were awarded America’s second highest decoration for their part in it.

    Please join me at Pacific a not for profit website

  20. AL SCHMID says:


    • William Rivers Freedman says:

      Who are you “Al Schmid”? Are you Al’s son? If you are somehow related to I’d love to get to know you.

      William Rivers Freedman

  21. W. Histand says:

    Tonight, New Years Day, having dinner with my family, my Dad 88 years old was talking about his cousin Al Schmid. My brother found this site. Would love to hear more about my second cousin and his family.

  22. W. Histand says:

    Why didn’t he receive the Medal of Honor?

    • William Rivers Freedman says:

      The official reason Schmid didn’t receive the Medal of Honor was the one Congressional Medal of Honor to a unit rule. The true reason was politics. John Basilone(and I’m not belittling his actions) was a character and well known because of his expolits while in the U.S. Army. His nickname was Manila John.

  23. Jon newell says:

    I grew up in St. pete and started getting interested in ww 2 history in the late 70’s. I wish I had know Al lived in my home town. I am curious as to what happened to Ruth. How long did she live? Most guys who fought in ww2 and recieved medals could care less if they were awarded a Navy Cross or The Medal.They did for their buddies for the most part.

  24. AL SCHMID says:


    • William Freedman says:

      Al Schmid, First, I loathe to continue mentioning this ; my “resentment” is not with the other Marines at the Tenaru/Ilu/Alligator Creek Battle but with the revisionist historians and media who continue to misrepresent what happened. Most recently, The Pacific Mini-Series which didn’t portray the actual events of America’s first victory in World War Two. Personally, I think Al Schmid and Lee Diamond should have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, rule or no rule. What Private Schmid and Corporal Diamond did was far beyond the call of duty and with no regard for their own lives. Both wounded multiple times, no riflemen to cover their flanks and removed their frontal cover as to be able to depress their weapon to eliminate more of the enemy. As far as my WASP statement you are entitled to your opinion. Furthermore, If Al Schmid’s mother had native American blood why isn’t mentioned anywhere? I’ve done extensive research(National Archives, Greenbelt Maryland, State of Pennsylvania, Archive at Harrisburg, New York Hall of Records, New York, New York, Navy/Marine Archive at the United States Naval Yard Washington D.C. to mention the more prominent repositories) on the battle and the men in that gun emplacement. Additionally, I had three phone interviews with Lee Diamond shortly before his death. In the days before political correctness ethnic background was part of the enlistment form for the Marine Corps. Al Schmid listed his race as white not mixed. That sir is a fact. Al’s enlistment form is a matter of public record. On a personal note if Al Schmid had Native American blood coursing through his veins why didn’t he mention it to his best bud and Native American Jack aka Johnny Rivers? There is no mention of Al’s heritage in any of Uncle John’s letters to my Mom or in any of the archives. Frankly, I don’t believe you! In my travels I’ve met quite a number of people who claim Native American blood but none as yet who are able to prove it. My heritage is a matter of public record. I’m classified as an “other” #5 by the State of Maryland due to my Father as caucasian and Mom as Native American. .

  25. AL SCHMID says:


  26. al schnid says:


    • William rivers Freedman says:

      Al Schmid jr.,

      I hope one day the pair of us will get to know one another. As you have details about the Uncle I never got to know. I would be forever in your debt if you would share what you know of him and his relationship with your Dad.

      I spoke will Lee Diamond several times. Each time he spoke about that night I could hear a change in his voice. I’m certain he would drift back to that terrible night.

      Has Bill Bartsch been in contact with you about the soon to be released book about the battle. It’s due to be released any day this month. I feel like a kid at Christmas. The anticipation is driving me crazy.

      If you would care to establish a relationship(no holding hands or windy walks!) I’m on Facebook.

  27. William Rivers Freedman says:

    I’m not in search of hero status for my Uncle, just the truth. Not just the truth for an orphan Indian boy but the truth for all the young men sent to war. They deserve it and we owe it to them.

  28. C. Prather says:

    It’s a shame that racists like William Freedman can get on a sight like this and spoil it with talk about WASP’s. Truth is, there is no color in a foxhole and Mr. Freedman is on other sites gripping about the lack of “spin” as he calls it, for native or otherwise non-white americans. He needs to tell someone who gives a S**t and shut up. He is demeaning and insulting brave american marines.

  29. C. Prather says:

    Fact is, I bet William Freedman never put on a uniform? The act of serving and putting on the uniform is bravery. Audie Murphy said the real heroes are the ones’ who didn’t come home.

  30. Barbara Glad says:

    C. Prather, have you read Mr. Freedman’s posts carefully? He wasn’t “gripping” about the lack of spin. His argument and complaint was about the spin that was put on the action at the Tenaru. Al Schmid’s son agreed that Mr. Freedman should be angry. Not only did Schmid’s son agree but offered an apology. If that is not an endorsement of Mr. Freedman’s complaint, I don’t know what is. Additionally, if you want to present an argument in any forum and not show disrespect; learn to write respectfully. I refer to your personal attack on Mr. Freedman.

    Furthermore, WASP isn’t derogatory term. It is an abbreviation for White Anglo-Saxon Protestant .

    “The term WASP has many meanings. In sociology it reflects that segment of the U.S. population that founded the nation and traced their heritages to…Northwestern Europe. The term…has become more inclusive. To many people, WASP now includes most ‘white’ people who are not … members of any minority group William Thompson & Joseph Hickey, Society in Focus 2005”

    I “Googled” Mr. Freedman’s name and failed to find anywhere else on the Internet with a “gripe” about the lack of “spin” .

    Your post reads, “It’s a shame that racists like William Freedman can get on a sight(sic) like this and spoil it with talk about WASP’s(sic).” Freedom of speech one of the principles on which this country was founded. So important our first Constitution had to be amended before the state delegates would sign it. Freedom of speech was the first “Freedom” the Nazi’s took from the occupied countries. In my opinion you disparage the memories of all those who fought for the freedoms which we as Americans enjoy by wanting to deny Mr. Freedman the right to express his opinion.

    Finally, before replying to a post and tickling the keys of your computer. Be certain of what you have read. When you write, use spell check , re-read your post and don’t make personal attacks..

  31. Peter Flahavin says:

    My friend Wilbur Bewley was there and saw Rivers body after the battle. He said he had got a full burst in the chest from a Japanese machine gun that blew his back out and the MG water jacket was full of holes.

  32. Russel says:

    As Wikipedia refuses to will somebody please tell me about Mrs. Ruth Hartley Schmid and Albert Andrew Schmid Jr.

  33. Mike Narkawicz says:

    First victory? Really? Ever hear of Midway?

    • William rivers Freedman says:

      The Battle of the Tenaru/Ilu/Alligator Creek was fought on land not water as was the Battle of Midway. Hence, the Battle of the Tenaru/Ilu/Alligator Creek was the first American land victory of World War 2..

  34. James GodFrey says:

    Does it really matter if one was jewish or one was native american or one was white or one was mixed they all gave some and some gave all let all of us honor the living and dead heroes alike

  35. James GodFrey says:

    As far as war movies go pride of the marines is surely one of the best more so because it is actually shows us real life heroes not made up or imagined based on true stories .sadly today most of our young people wont ever know about the al schmids or lee diamonds john rivers alvin yorks audie murphys or themen of the 442 division from the movie go for broke or the drivers of the movie red ball express or the pilots of the tuskagee airmen from the movie red tails god bless our heroes

  36. Bode Bliss says:

    An honored soldier and a patriot. God bless him!

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