|Death: ||Mar. 1, 1945, Japan|
Service member of the Army and Marines.
(The following news story was written while Reid was still living.)
Marine who "Wouldn't Give Up" is Hero of New Philippine Saga
Fled Corregidor to Battle Japs with Guerrillas
Star 24 November 1944
(The following story was written by First Lt. Weldon James, a Marine Corps public relations Officer recently returned from overseas.)
The Marine Corps today revealed the story of "the corporal who wouldn't give up."
The Leatherneck hero escaped from Corregidor the day it surrendered, became a first lieutenant in the Army, fought with the guerrillas in the Philippines for nearly two years escaped, re-enlisted in the marines, demanded combat duty, and again is overseas where the Japs are thickest.
Now a sergeant, the rugged, blue-eyed fighter is Reid C. Chamberlain, 25, of El Cajon, Calif., whose Distinguished Service Cross citation early this year was limited for security reasons; to a terse affirmation of "extraordinary heroism in actionů."
First reported missing, then dead, then "secretly alive," young Chamberlain was a joyous secret indeed to his mother, Mrs. Ettie May Chamberlain of El Cajon.
Fought First on Bataan.
Serving with the 4th Marines, Pfc. Chamberlain fought first on Bataan, where he won promotion to corporal, then on Corregidor. When the impending surrender of "The Rock" was announced on the morning of May 6, 1942, the corporal, with several Marine and Army companions, escaped in a motor launch. How they got from island to island, where and how they served with guerrilla bands in 1942 may not be told. Near the end of the year they acquired a launch and set out for China. Their engine failed some 70 miles at sea. They drifted 28 days before landing again in the Philippines.
Cpl. Chamberlain, another American and two Filipinos acquired a, native sailboat, eventually set sail for Australia. The corporal changed his mind and returned to the Philippines with some inter-islanders who put him in touch with a guerrilla outfit.
Smuggled In Munitions
The corporal went "outside" for the guerrillas, smuggled in guns, powder, lead, gasoline. A guerrilla leader, a Colonel in the United States Army, commissioned him a second lieutenant and, six adventure-filled months later promoted him to first lieutenant.
After two years in the Philippines, First Lt. Chamberlain finally came back to America.
In Washington the paper confusion was great. The Marines gave him a discharge. The Army permitted him-to resign his commission and gave him the Distinguished Service Cross.
Then the hardy youth. who did some growing up in his native Parkin, Ark., before his family moved West, re-enlisted in the Marine Corps. He was given appointment to the Officer Candidates' Class at Quantico.
Lt. Gen. Alexander A. Vandegrift, commandant of the Marine Corps, arranged a 60-day furlough. He went to Quantico, but no sooner had he entered school than, he applied for line duty.
An Unusual Request.
It was an unusual request, three days after admission to an Officer training school. He got his transfer, went to a West Coast base. Orders stipulated that he was not to be transferred again without the express approval of the commandant. He was "stuck for the duration."
He won promotion to sergeant. In time he was Presented the Purple Heart, with Gold Star for wounds of 1942. Sgt. Chamberlain could have had another fling at candidates' class, but he was getting tired of his peaceful existence.
The commandant received another formal request. Please, could he be "released" for combat duty? The sergeant was still subject to recurrent malaria, and that alone is good reason to keep a man stateside. But, as his commanding officer wrote, approving Sgt. Chamberlain's request, the Californian had "a valuable temperament for combat." Gen. Vandegriff agreed.
Marines Diary Reveals How He Gave Up Romance for Death
From Times Herald, 08-02-45
Beautiful Filipino Girl Made Him Ask Himself for the First Time if He Was In Love
Before the young marine, Reid C. Chamberlain, died fighting for his country on Iwo Island, he had the chance to ask himself a basic question: "Am I in love?"
Romance came to the El Cajon Calif. Lad for the first and only time in his life on the Philippine Island Basilian.
Having fought on Luzon with one guerrilla band, he was going to Mindanao to join another. But he was felled by malaria and natives took him ashore on Basilia and summoned a native nurse from an American mission. Her name was, Evangelista, and she was beautiful.
She was the heroine of Chamberlain's diary, which was published yesterday by Leatherneck, magazine of the marine corps. So imbued with war was the young man, he scarcely had time for anything else, but she made an impression from the very start. His diary recorded:
"Even though I was burning' up with fever I noticed Miss Evangelista was very attractive. She is taller than the average Filipino girl, about five feet five inches, slender and curvaceous. She had Jet black eyes and long lashes, gleaming white, even teeth and a winning smile; Her hair is long and she had combed it back in a neat coiffure and parted it in the center.'
Is "Doctor and Mother"
This was written on March 13, 1943. Two days later Chamberlain had recovered from his delirium to again write in his diary. He recorded that "Miss Evangelista is a sort of combination doctor and mother for the entire area. Natives drop in to tell her their troubles and to have their wounds or illnesses treated."
Four days later, he wrote: "Evangelista takes excellent care of me. I have grown quite fond of her and nicknamed her 'Ba,", why, I don't know. But she seems to like my pet name. I am still weak and Ba insists I remain in bed a few more days.
On March 24, he recorded:
My fifth day out of bed an I'm beginning to feel like my old self again, although I'm still weak. I asked Be to, go on a picnic with me, and she accepted an prepared a nice supper for the occasion.
" We walked about three mile through some lovely wooded country to a spot on the bank of a small stream where we sat holding hands, discussing life, the war, and the future.
Grateful To "Ba"
"Neither of us seemed very certain regarding these subjects but I felt very close to Ba and grateful as we watched the huge red sunset that filled the sky with myriad of blue hues.
"I took Ba in my arms and kissed her tenderly. Her lips were soft and warm. She smiled I as she buried her head comfortably on my shoulder. It felt as if it belonged there.
"I've never been in love. I wonder if I'm in love now. Whatever it is I find it a very pleasant sensation."
On April 1, the Basilian guerrillas gave a dance in his honor....
"Ba looked radiant. She wore a long dark red party dress and a red hibiscus in her hair that added to her dark beauty. She danced well and I realized she is the most versatile, able, and intelligent girl I had ever known, as well as one of the prettiest. Yet she is Filipino and I am an American and there is still a war to fight. I made up my mind to leave the next day.
Tells Her His Plans
"When we walked back to the mission after the party, I told her of my intention. She asked me to stay but I told her that it is my duty to continue the fight against the Japs, that I am a soldier and my country is at war."
She protested that he could fight Japs on Basilian -- he didn't have to go on to Mindanao to fight them.
He told her his diary said:
" No, Ba. I must leave. My place is with Col. Fertig."
With this statement of fact, BA disappears from the fighting man's diary: "She had tears in her eyes when I kissed her good night."
Goes Back to Marines
Chamberlain escaped from Corregidor fortress when it capitulated to the Japanese and fought with guerrilla bands for 18 months. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army and later was promoted to first lieutenant though his marine rank was corporal.
In November 1943, he was evacuated to Australia and received from Gen. MacArthur the Distinguished Service Cross "for extraordinary heroism In action" and the Purple Heart with gold star for his wounds.
He could have remained in the army as a first lieutenant but chose to return to the marines as a corporal. He was a sergeant when, he fell in action on Iwo Jima.
The Pain of War And Remembrance
By Alvin M. Josephy Jr. columnist & author
Published: December 25, 1999 in the New York Times
During World War II, I served as a Marine Corps combat correspondent on Guam, Saipan and Iwo Jima. When I came back to America after Iwo, I was riddled with guilt that although I had survived, I had left behind many brave friends who would never return home.
One of the men buried on Iwo was my foxhole buddy. He was a quiet, self-effacing sergeant named Reid Chamberlain who had a war record almost too melodramatic to be true. A career marine, he had been in the Philippines at the time of Pearl Harbor and had fought under Gen. Douglas MacArthur at Bataan and Corregidor.
When Corregidor finally fell, Reid escaped to the Philippine island of Mindanao, where, commissioned as an Army officer, he led a Filipino guerrilla band behind Japanese lines. Meanwhile, the Marine Corps told his mother that he had died at Corregidor, but she refused to believe it, insisting that one day he would show up at her front door.
After a year and a half, suffering from jungle illnesses, Reid was taken from Mindanao in a submarine. Back in the United States, he was accorded a hero's welcome, receiving the Distinguished Service Cross. He returned to his mother's home, just as she had known he would.
Although he could have spent the rest of the war stateside, he resigned his officer's commission in the army, told his mother once again that he would come back safely, and re-enlisted in the Marines.
He ended up in my outfit in Guam. By the time we left for Iwo Jima, we had become close friends, and once ashore, we shared a two-man foxhole, one of us asleep while the other kept watch at night for infiltrating Japanese.
One morning he and I were walking across an open area that we thought we had secured. Some shots rang out, and Reid fell dead, hit behind the ear by an enemy sniper hidden among some rocks. In an instant, the Japanese had claimed one of America's best men.
When the Marines once more informed his mother of his death, she refused again to believe it, and when I visited her after the war, she was still certain that he would eventually be coming home. A year or two later, when Congress authorized the return of the remains of servicemen buried overseas, Mrs. Chamberlain asked for Reid's body. During the battle, however, he had been buried near the Iwo beachhead in a long trench, and the Navy informed her that it could not find his remains. For years, Mrs. Chamberlain saw this as proof that Reid was still alive.
Meanwhile, like many other combat veterans, I found I could no longer talk about the war with anyone who had not been in combat. I could not reminisce about my experiences, even with my family, without great pain, and my eyes would become teary. So I became silent, too.
For long years, the generation of World War II veterans lost its public voice, and the patriotism and sacrifices of the war were largely forgotten by nonveterans.
Again and again, one could hear the common complaint at the funeral of a veteran: ''Our father never told us anything about his war experiences.''
Inevitably, some sort of a reversal was due, and it began, I believe, five and a half years ago with the attention paid to the 50th anniversary of the Normandy landing. Family members traveled to France with fathers, uncles, brothers and others who had been in the inferno of the D-Day landing, and in the military cemeteries they saw the aging veterans finally break down and weep at the graves of remembered comrades and then talk for the first time proudly and openly of their war experiences.
In a 50-year anniversary observance in the Pacific, I saw similar scenes in Guam. Though it came late, the sudden willingness of the World War II veteran to talk was a beneficial development.
Remembrance can still be painful and perhaps will always be so, for it continues to tap a deep feeling of guilt in those of us who survived while others never came back. But it has a good side, too.
With the willingness of the veteran to tell of his experiences, the younger generation, the one that will lead us into the 21st century, has come to understand and better appreciate the sacrifices made in World War II by Americans like Reid Chamberlain. After all, they gave everyone the right to live freely, which was possibly the noblest achievement of the 20th century.
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Corporal Reid Carlos Chamberlain (MCSN: 22334352/265953), United States Marine Corps (Reserve), for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy while serving with the Philippine Guerilla Forces in the Philippine Islands during the period 15 January 1943 to 13 November 1943. After escaping from Corregidor and a long journey through enemy-occupied territory, Corporal Chamberlain reported for duty to the commander of the United States forces operating on the island of Mindanao. Acting in the capacity of an officer he served as liaison officer, continually performing hazardous missions between the headquarters of various forces and delivering supplies to units by means of small boats operating in waters constantly patrolled by enemy vessels. Corporal Chamberlain's courage, resourcefulness, and determination enabled him repeatedly to penetrate the enemy blockade and to render conspicuous service to the United States forces in the Philippine Islands. His outstanding heroism and skill reflect highest credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States.
Donald Sanders Chamberlain (1882 - 1940)
Edna May Branham Chamberlain (1890 - 1990)
Note: LIsted as "Missing in Action"
Specifically: He is buried in an unmarked trench on Iwa Jima with fellow soldiers, his body can not be located. His name is on the Honolulu War Memorial in Hawaii
GPS (lat/lon): 24.7613, 141.30591
Maintained by: Renae✫
Originally Created by: CWGC/ABMC
Record added: Aug 06, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 56117554