Sounding taps for a World War II Marine vet

My father, Ralph Eugene Riley, was a decorated Marine who was wounded in action on Sept. 15, 1944, at the Battle of Peleliu (which took place on what is now Palau).

This would be what the National Museum of the Marine Corps calls "the bitterest battle" of World War II: Japanese gunners inflicted more than 1,100 casualties on the First Marine Division on the day my father was wounded.

Besides Peleliu, my father served within the enemy zone of operations in the Pacific Theater from 1942-1944, including campaigns at Guadalcanal, New Guinea and Cape Gloucester.

There, uncommon valor was a common virtue.

For his service in Company K, Third Battalion, First Regiment of the First Marine Division, he received both the Presidential and Australian Government Unit Citations for extraordinary heroism in action. He was awarded the Purple Heart for Valor while in his hospital bed in Australia. He died June 22, 2012.

Kathryn Riley Newman
Laplata, Md.