James V. Arena

U.S. Marine Corps 1950–1954


In peacetime 1950, James Arena decided to enlist in the Navy with a friend and, although the friend was a no-show, Jim continued to Boston where a recruiter convinced him instead to join the Marines. On leave when war broke out, Korea was a place he was not familiar with at all. As the youngest of 10 children, following his brothers who all made it home safely from World War II, Jim tells of his seven days at war. With the First Marine Division under the leadership of Col. "Chesty" Puller, they made an amphibious landing at Inchon and headed towards Seoul. A surprise attack seven days later killed two members of his unit and wounded Jim. Patched up at a MASHospital, he was sent home to recuperate. Knowing his mother's worrying, a brother intercepted the telegram prior to it getting to her. His four-year career with the First and Second Marine Division took him to Japan, Korea, the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, and he tells of the wonderful experience he had in Italy where he was able to meet relatives he'd never before seen.

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