By Jennifer Martin - email
JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Miller Dent was a 19-year-old agriculture student at Mississippi State when he was drafted to serve in World War II. He joined the Marines and after training, he was sent off to the South Pacific.
"It was crowded. You were put in a section aboard the ship. You were given a bunk and sometimes I believe the bunks went up four bunks high in the hole I was in. It wasn't anything to do except sit and look at the ocean," said Dent.
Dent would be a replacement soldier with the 3rd Marine Division. One of his closest friends and fellow Marines, future All American and NFL quarterback, Charlie Conerly.
"We were together all through the war. He chose to go into Mortars," added Dent.
Both men were part of the weapons company. Dent specialized in 81 MM Mortars. In June 1944 they sailed for Kwajalin, part of the Marshall Islands.
"We were there to be Reserve for the 2nd Marines going in to Saipan," said Dent.
"We were put on LST's, and they had the amphibious tractors in the hole that we would go in because of the coral that surrounded the island. We were on the LST's 52 days. On the LST's you didn't have any quarters. You had to live topside," Dent said.
"Conerly and I put our cots together and made us a hootch you might say. That kind of wore on you," Dent explained.
Once the situation in Saipan was secure, they were sent to Guam.
"We were in the assault waves. That night it was like a big thunderstorm. You could see flashes. You didn't get much sleep that night," Dent said.
He barely made it to the shore.
"On the way in, ours got hung up on an obstacle. We were drawing artillery fire the driver was able to get us off the obstacle, but as we circled the next round hit where the obstacle was," Dent added.
They landed on the Western Beaches and it took them 20 days to reach the Northern Coast of the island.
"It was like an amphitheater with a high cliff around it. Lost a lot of men going up in those cliffs," Dent said.
Dent's division would stay even after victory on the island.
"They left our division on Guam and we set up there. Guam, Saipan, and Tinian, they made airbases for the B29's to bomb Japan; a little island called Iwo Jima was giving them problems," Dent explained.
It would be where the 3rd Marines would be headed next.
WLBT 3 - Fox 40
715 South Jefferson Street