|Birth: ||Mar. 2, 1921|
New York, USA
|Death: ||Jul. 25, 1944|
Tinian, Northern Mariana Islands
Richard Joseph Brodnicki was born and raised in upstate New York. Part of a large Catholic family, he was active in his church and with the Boy Scouts, serving as assistant scoutmaster for Troop 128. He was among the first from his area to enlist, joining the Marine Corps on October, 1942. Despite his peaceful upbringing, Brodnicki excelled with the basic weapons of the Marines - the rifle, bayonet, and pistol - earning high scores for marsksmanship and proficiency, and a promotion to Private First Class within a year of his enlistment.
Brodnicki was assigned to Company A, First Separate Battalion (Reinforced) in December of 1942; that unit would later be designed as A/1/24th Marines. Possibly because of his work as a church organizer and scout leader, PFC Brodnicki was appointed a company clerk; after the Fourth Marine Division's first battle on Namur in the Marshall Islands, his skill with a rifle was deemed more important and he joined one of the company's line platoons.
From June 15 to July 13, 1944, Brodnicki's First Battalion was engaged in desperate fighting on the island of Saipan. Although his company took nearly 50% casualties, PFC Brodnicki made it through the fight without any serious trouble. The Marines were granted just over one week to rest on the newly conquered battlefield before boarding a transport lying offshore. For most, dinner on the night of July 23 was the first hot meal they'd received in over a month; for many, it would be their last.
Richard Brodnicki splashed ashore on Tinian's White Beach Two, a tiny strip of sand that had the advantage of being lightly defended. The Japanese were taken by surprise at the location and speed of the Marine advance, and Company A took only a handful of casualties. Brodnicki, having thus survived his third combat landing, chose a location for a foxhole and dug in for the night.
In the pre-dawn darkness of July 25, a banzai attack hit First Battalion's line, with the first and heaviest blow falling on Company A. Those who survived would count it as the worst night of the war - including those spend on Iwo Jima the following year. By daylight, only sixty men were left able to carry on the campaign.
BAR gunner Alva Perry described the action.
"At 2:00 all hell broke loose, they started the most devastating artillery and mortar attack we had ever been under. This continued for about one hour. During the bombardment I remember shells coming so close to our foxhole that we all three were covered with dirt and pieces of shrapnel. I remember [Corporal Leon] Roquet asking me if I was all right. I told him yes but about that time a big explosion took place on the edge of our hole. [PFC Wallace] Holt turned to me and held up his arm a said "I won't be able to play baseball anymore, my hand is gone. " Holt got up and ran back to a first aid station.... Roquet and I stayed in the hole until the Japanese started coming out of the bushes in droves about 30 yards to our front.... The firefight became so intense that the Japanese were falling within 2 feet to 20 yards of our foxhole. I fired the BAR until it overheated and I had to find another one if I wanted to live. It was still pitch dark I had to wait for the flares to provide some light so I could see what I was doing. And the frenzy of the fight continued.... The Japs started to commit suicide right in front of us. Most of them would run at us and yell "Banzi" as they clasped a grenade to their belly. They blew body pieces all over us. This went on for about three hours....
"With full daylight... I decided to look around to see if I could help any of my buddies who were wounded. The firefight that we had just finished had left me nearly deaf. I could not hear the wounded crying for help. The only way I could help [was] to go to the foxholes that did not have a live marine's head sticking up. I decided to get out of my hole and see what I could do for them.
"Brodnicki occupied the first hole I went to. I rolled him over on his back and noticed that he had been shot between the eyes. I went from his hole to the next one that was occupied by a good friend Winston Cabe. I rolled Cabe over. I could see that he was still alive but most of his face had been blown away."
Richard Brodnicki lost his life either late on July 24 or early on July 25 (the battalion muster roll contradicts itself), and was buried in Plot 1, Row 1, Grave #5 of the Fourth Marine Division Cemetery on Tinian a few days later. In 1948, his remains were returned to his hometown for a funeral mass and burial near the church where he had worked and worshipped.
Perry: memorial 72995374
Holt: memorial 30691119
Cabe: memorial 102384576
Saint Stanislaus Roman Catholic Cemetery
New York, USA
Created by: Geoffrey Roecker
Record added: Dec 18, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 32265543