Steve Radika

Steve Radika served in World War II in the Pacific Theater.

He served in the U.S. Marine Corps. He attended boot camp in San Diego, California, beginning in March 23, 1944, and was sent to Camp Pendleton, California, for advanced training. After that, he was assigned to the 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division. He participated in the invasion of Okinawa and was part of the first wave of the 1st Marine Division. He was shot through the chest and the arm, and after recovering was discharged, on December 20, 1945.

Mr. Radika’s rank was Corporal. He was assigned to the Browning Automatic Rifle as light machine gunner and rifleman.

Mr. Radika was decorated with the Purple Heart and the World War II Victory Medal.

He was borning in Hibbing, Minnesota, in 1924, the son of Ted and Mildred Radika.

Source: interview with Veterans’ Memorial Hall staff (below); original entry on VMH website (below)

“I went t San Diego, California, for boot camp. I took a troop train from Minneapolis to San Diego. I had boot camp for 6 weeks. After that we trained at Camp Pendleton, California, where we trained for combat: how to run in a zigzag, and I focused learning to use the Browning automatic rifle. Then I got shipped overseas to Guadalcanal, where I trained for over a month.

“I got seasick on rough seas when we left Guadcanal for Okinawa. It took 30 days. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. I’d stand in line for chow time, but by the time I got there I could barely eat anything. I lost my guts out over the side of the ship. But I made it. When we hit the beach, I felt normal pretty fast.

‘We hit Okinawa on April 1, 1945. I was in the first wave of our division that landed on Okinawa. There were many ships.

“We got loaded up at the bottom of our ship to get on the amphibious tanks. Then we hit the beach. They told us that most of us is going to be killed, because the Japs was waiting for us there. They told us we’re going to die. But you always figure that it’s not going to be you.

“We were not met with much enemy gunfire on the beach; we only lost a few Marines. The Japs weren’t fortified there much. They were fortified at the north end of the island. We took the airport right away, and right after that the U.S. started using the airport. We went right across the island and hit the beach on the other side. They gave us a few days off. Then they shipped us to the north end, that’s where the Japs were.

“One time, I got shot though my pack on my back; it pierced my little container of beans and exploded the rest of my food.

“I got wounded twice. The first time was probably in the middle of April: I got shrapnel in my knees. The corpsman pulled out the shrapnel, and I stayed in action.

“On May 15, I got what we called a million dollar wound, because we could get out of there.

“I snuck up to a pillbox and dropped a grenade in the pillbox, and I emptied my ammunition into it. Then I stood up and waved to my fellow Marines to move forward, because I had that pillbox—all the Japs in there were dead. That’s when a Jap shot me from a different position. I was shot through the chest and right arm. It was a bad wound: it broke my ribs, and broke my lung. I survived that.

“Several hours later, a corpsman came and plugged up the hole in my lung so I could breathe. I was gushing blood all over. Then a big tank came and ran over me. It stopped, and they picked me up through the hole in the bottom of the tank. And that’s when they took me to the medical tent.

“I was in action for 45 days.

“I was in a hospital for 6 months. The first one was on Okinawa, they took me to a tent in Okinawa, and a doctor asked me what I had been hit with. I told him it was a bullet, a Jap had hit me with a bullet. I ended up on a hospital ship then.

“I remember being loaded on the ship. Big hospital ship, all lit up. The spray from the water splashed over the side and woke me up. I was in a duck.

“Listen, they had an agreement with the Japanese, you don’t bomb our hospital ships, and we won’t bomb yours. So our ship was all lit up off of Okinawa, and they never bombed it. They didn’t bomb that ship. Nurses took care of me there like I was the president of the United States. They took good care of me there.

“I was unconscious for 8 or 9 days.

“Then after being on the hospital ship for a couple of weeks, that ship went to Guam. I was there for another month or so, and they took care of me there. From Guam, I ended up in Hawaii, at another hospital, and I stayed there for a month or a month- and-a-half. From there, I went to San Francisco. From there, I got discharged in Klamath Falls, Oregon.

“Listen, I’m 87 now, but I survived it all.”

Original entry on VMH website:

Steve Radika of Hibbing entered the Marine Corps on March 23, 1944. He was a private 1st class and a light machine gunner and rifleman, in the Pacific Theater from September 1944 to July 1945. He participated in Guadalcanal and the first-wave landing on Okinawa. He was wounded in action twice in April and May of 1945. After the second wound, he was unconscious for 5 days and woke up on a hospital ship. He was further hospitalized in Hawaii, later returned to the U.S. and hospitalized in San Francisco. He was discharged on Dec. 20, 1945.

Source: Hometown Heroes: The St. Louis County World War II Project. 260.

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