The following account was provided by SGT K.L. McCullough, a Radioman in Carlson's Raiders during the Makin Island Raid. It is his observations of the actions on Makin Island. It is provided for information only and does not constitute endorsement by the United States Department of Defense, the United States Department of the Navy or the USS Makin Island (LHD 8).
Reflections of a Carlson's Marine Raider - August 18, 1942
We all began to move around about daylight not many of us got any sleep the night of the 17th. Most of the night was spent trying to figure how to get our boats through the surf. We lost most of the equipment and were completely exhausted by about 12 or 1 o'clock. We then tried to get a little rest so we could try again in daylight. The next morning there were three or four boats that left the island and got safely to the sub's. Then one boat was sent from the sub back to the island, presumably to pass a line into the island so we could all get off. One of the marines swam into the beach and told the colonel that the sub commander said he would be there until we all got off. The marine then swam back to his boat and, about that time planes came over and strafed the boat and we never saw the five marines again. The subs had to dive. In the mean time it was discovered that I was the only communication person still alive. We had lost the other four radiomen. The colonel told me to stick around the make-shift command post. So, as soon as the planes were gone, we started making plans for withdrawal. Some squads were sent out to check the island for Japanese and anything of use. I believe around 11 o'clock the planes were back. Dropped a few bombs and strafed some then left again. About this time it was decided we would cross the island and leave by the lagoon side. But we had to wait until the subs surfaced again to signal him again. The colonel went about checking our dead and talking to the natives making arrangements to bury our dead as we were not able to take them off if we got ourselves off. Around 6 PM we sighted the subs and I used a flashlight to signal them with some difficulty with recognization signals. Then we proceeded to communicate. We dragged 4 boats across the island and lashed them to a native outrigger. I guess it was around 7 PM when we shoved off. We had one motor and the rest was oars. The going was really slow. After 10 or 15 minutes the boat on the far right wanted to cut loose and make it on their own, but the colonel said we would do better by all staying together. So on we went, we still could not see the subs and the going was slow. The same men in the right boat still wanted to break loose and go on their own. Finally the colonel told them they could. So they cut loose and moved out at a much faster pace (I believe they were the marines that were beheaded - we never saw them again). When we got to the Nautilus we figured they had reached the Argonaut. We never knew until we were back in Honolulu. And that is my belief (as everyone knew we were going to try to leave when we contacted the subs and we knew it would be close to dark) when we were going. I believe the motor stopped so it was just paddles. It seemed we would never get past the point and into the open sea, where the subs were waiting. 60 years is a long time to remember all the small details. Although some things are as vivid as yesterday.
SGT. K.L (MAC) MC CULLOUGH USMC
Myths of Makin Island Raid
The following account was provided by SGT K.L. McCullough, a Radioman in Carlson's Raiders during the Makin Island Raid. It is his observations of the actions on Makin Island. It is provided for information only and does not constitute endorsement by the United States Department of Defense, the United States Department of the Navy or the USS MAKIN ISLAND (LHD 8).
There have been many articles written about Carlson's raid on Makin some of them true but also a lot of them (myths) good reading unless you know the truth.
#1 The rifle shot by Mitchel just as we landed: It was an accident but it happened. What did not happen was all hell did not break loose. It was about twenty minutes before the fighting started.
#2 Carlson's panic: I was with Carlson most of the two day's. He acted like a man on a mission. But it could have been grocery shopping, or a day in training. He was about the most calm guy on the island.
#3 Surrender note: I heard about the note about fifty years after the raid. There was no way in hell Carlson would have surrendered with the President's son with us. Carlson would have died defending us. The two men who were supposed to delivered the note. The story goes as they left the tent where they gave the Japanese the note they saw a Japanese running. One of them grabbed a Japanese pistol and it would not fire. So he grabbed a rifle and shot the Japanese soldier (our two were supposed to be without weapons, there just happened to be these weapons laying around). How far had the Japanese run while all of this gun grabbing was going on?? It was at least twelve o'clock at night and there were no lights on. Makes you wonder.
Also it was told that the colonel forgot the men that were guarding our withdrawal. We did not get off the island but if we had would the men just set up camp on the island? Their boats were there I believe one of them would be smart enough to figure it was time to go. Unless they all wanted someone to come back to the island and tell them it was time to leave??
#4 Communicating with the subs: Most stories is that we contacted the subs by radio but we had no working radios that second day. The four Radiomen I had were all killed the first day, and the radios were not reliable. The second day the subs had to dive that morning. So, in the afternoon when the subs surfaced i used a flashlight to communicate with them.
#5 Men left behind: Early ON the second day a boat from the sub came into the outer edge of the breakers and a marine swam in and told the colonel that the sub commander said he would be there until we all got off. Then the marine swam back to the rubber boat, about that time Japanese planes came over. The subs dived and the rubber boat was strafed. We watched for the marines in the boat but i don't believe we ever saw any of them. Early that day the colonel told the boys that if they could get a crew together and thought they could get to the subs that go ahead and try. This was before the planes came over. One story is that the night before the colonel said he was going to surrender and it was every man for himself (which is a lot of bull) after the subs dived we all gathered and the colonel told everyone that we would have to wait for the subs to surface and it would probably be late in the afternoon. Then he sent some patrols out to see what the situation was. The colonel went out where the dead marines were. I don't know just what he did. He told me to keep watch for the subs. By about eleven o'clock every one was back where we spent the night. The colonel told us that when we contacted the sub we would ask them to come around to the lagoon side of the island.
The colonel contacted the natives and made arrangements to bury our dead. Around five the sub surfaced and I contacted them and ask them to pick us up off the point on the lagoon side. Then we dragged four rubber boats across the island. There we found a native outrigger, we lashed three boats on the right side of the outrigger and one on the left, about seven we shoved off. One motor and the rest paddles. It was slow looking at the shore we were barley moving, the men in the far right boat wanted to cut loose and go on. The colonel told them it would be best if we all stayed together. So after about thirty minutes we were still barely moving. The men asked the colonel again to cut loose and he gave permission. They really moved out in a hurry and, that was the last time we saw them. We finally got to the sub the men were not on the sub. We just supposed they had boarded the other sub. We set sail and didn't know they were not with us until we got back to Honolulu. And, to me those are the boys that were captured and taken to Kwajalein.
SGT. K.L (MAC) MC CULLOUGH USMC