Monday, December 3, 2007
Where Do We Get Such Men Part 2
Corporal Anthony Damato Hero
During the Marine advancements in the Pacific theatre of World War ll, And the rapid seizure of Kwajalein Atoll led Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean the date for Operation Catchpole, the invasion of Eniwetok Atoll, was set for 17 February 1944. On the morning of 17 February 1944, the task force of the V Amphibious Corps made up of the Army 106th Infantry regiment and the 22nd Marines landed in the Eniwetok lagoon and began coordinated operations. The next day 18 February 1944, the Marines landed on Engebi Island, supported by naval gunfire and by shore-based artillery placed on three adjacent islets the day before. After ferocious fighting with ill-prepared defenders, Engebi was secured the same day, including the airfield. One Marine veteran claimed that the fire the Japanese put forth was the heaviest he ever came under. The next day, 19 February, the 106th Infantry faced heavier resistance on Eniwetok Island, but after two days of fighting reinforced by 3rd Bn, 22nd Marines, Eniwetok was taken on 20 February. The Marines' attack on Parry Island on 22 February, followed by landings on smaller islands, eliminated the Japanese resistance and the entire Eniwetok atoll was in U.S. control by the evening of 23 February.
Operation Catchpole cost Marine casualties 254 killed, 555 wounded and Army casualties of 94 killed and 311 wounded. About 3,400 Japanese died and 66 were taken prisoner.
Landing on Engebi Island with the 22nd Marines was Marine Corporal Anthony Damato born and raised in Shenandoah Schuylkill County, Pa. He was born on March 28, 1922 and went to school in Shenandoah, prior to his enlistment in the Marine Corps Anthony worked as a truck driver. On January 8, 1942 Anthony Damato enlisted in the Marine Corps. After boot camp and initial training he was posted to Londonderry, Northern Ireland in May of 1942.
During the planning stages of Operation Torch, (The Invasion of North Africa) It was determined that weapons training was needed for U.S. Navy boat crewmen who would be involved in the Algerian portion of the landing as part of the Eastern Task Force. In September 1942, Marine Corps instructors were brought in from Londonderry and London to establish a three-week training camp at the naval base in Rosneath, Scotland.
Marines trained four Army infantry divisions in assault from the sea tactics prior to the North African landings. Leading the way during Operation Torch, the November 1942 North African
invasion, Marines went ashore at Arzeu, Algeria, and moved overland to the port of Oran, where they occupied the strategic Spanish fortress at the northern tip of the harbor.
While with the Marine units during Operation Torch Damato distinguished himself, volunteering for special duty with a select invasion party that took part in the landings. He was later advanced in rank for especially meritorious service in action while serving aboard a U.S. Naval ship during the landings at Arzeau, Algeria. On November 8, 1942 he landed with an assault force entering the port from the seaward and assisted in boarding and seizing vessels in the harbor as well as the port itself.
In March of 1943 Corporal Damato returned to the United States. Three months later he sailed for the South Pacific. And on the night of February 19-20, 1944 after fighting to secure the Engebi Island Corporal Damato was in a fox hole with two fellow Marines, the Japanese using small unit tactics continually attacked the Marine force. While on his companies defensive perimeter which was thinned out due to the withdrawal of nearly half of the company. Creeping up on the Marines an enemy soldier approached Damato’s foxhole undetected and threw in a grenade, desperately grabbing for the grenade in the dark and not being able to get rid of fast enough Corporal Anthony Damato threw himself on top of the grenade taking the full force effect of the explosion and was instantly killed, and saving the life of his two fellow Marines.
On April 9, 1945 the town of Shenandoah turned out for the presentation of the Medal of Honor. The presentation was made in Damato’s high school in Shenandoah. Presenting the award was Brigadier General M.C. Gregory, USMC who presented the medal to his Mother Mrs. Francis Damato a widowed mother of eight.
Corporal Damato was initially buried in the American Cemetery on Kirrian Island in the Marshall Islands. And was later interred in the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Corporal Anthony Damato Medal of Honor Citation Reads.
DAMATO, ANTHONY PETER
Rank and organization: Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps. Born: 28 March 1922, Shenandoah, Pa. Accredited to: Pennsylvania.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with an assault company in action against enemy Japanese forces on Engebi Island, Eniwetok Atoll, Marshall Islands, on the night of 1920 February 1944. Highly vulnerable to sudden attack by small, fanatical groups of Japanese still at large despite the efficient and determined efforts of our forces to clear the area, Cpl. Damato lay with 2 comrades in a large foxhole in his company's defense perimeter which had been dangerously thinned by the forced withdrawal of nearly half of the available men. When 1 of the enemy approached the foxhole undetected and threw in a hand grenade, Cpl. Damato desperately groped for it in the darkness. Realizing the imminent peril to all 3 and fully aware of the consequences of his act, he unhesitatingly flung himself on the grenade and, although instantly killed as his body absorbed the explosion, saved the lives of his 2 companions. Cpl. Damato's splendid initiative, fearless conduct and valiant sacrifice reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his comrades.
Seven months after Mrs. Damato accepted the Medal of Honor for here son, she was invited to New York Harbor to be part of the ceremony that christened a new destroyer named in honor of her son Marine Corporal Anthony P. Damato.
The USS Damato was a 2,400 ton destroyer and launched on November 21, 1945 and Commissioned DD-871 on the 27, April 1946. This vessel was decommissioned in December 1980 and given to the Government of Pakistan.