Unit: 1st Marine Raider Battalion, also known as Edson's Raiders. In early 1944, the four Raider Battalions were combined to form the new 4th Marine Regiment, lost during the fall of Cooregidor in 1942. Later integrated into the 6th Marine Division.
War fronts: Occupied island of Emirau and participated in the beach invasions of Guam and Okinawa.
Family: Married 43 years to June E. Maudoiut, a war bride from Australia. Has two stepchildren.
On the Web: Watch more of Workman's story and see profiles of other veterans at www.trib.com/honor
For 60 years, Tim Workman tried to forget.
Then he received a letter from historian Hugh Ambrose, son of historian Stephen Ambrose. Hugh Ambrose was working on a new project for HBO, a World War II-era miniseries focusing on the Pacific Theater. Ambrose hoped it would reach young people on a large scale, educating them much like a previous project, "Band of Brothers," had done.
Ambrose wondered if Workman would share his experience as a Marine Raider.
"Oral histories are wonderful," Ambrose wrote, "but there is something that happens when a person 'confronts the blank page' that brings out the best."
So, in 2004, Workman sat in front of his typewriter and let himself remember.
He grew up in Aspen, Colo. At 17, he tried to join the Navy but failed the physical because of a temporary heart murmur. He waited a year and joined the Marines on Feb. 16, 1943.
In boot camp, Workman qualified as a high expert rifleman, meaning he could stay as a rifle instructor or volunteer for paratrooper training. He volunteered to be a paratrooper, then signed up for Marine Raider Training School. Marine Raiders were the elite of the elite. He wanted to be near the action.
"A kid is what I was. I thought I'd be a hero," Workman said. "Like any other teenage kid, I didn't think I'd get killed."
By the time he was done, Workman's memories would fill 15 single-spaced pages, typed all in capital letters.
Guam, 0830 hours, July 21, 1944. His LTV (amphibious tractor) charged through the water and heavy smoke. Ships fired rockets and 40 mm guns overhead. Planes bombed the beach. Bullets pinged against the tractor or splashed in the water around him.
Workman scrambled out of the LTV. A man fell next to him, apparently shot. The tractor ran over the man as the driver spun it around after the last Marine jumped out. But maybe the man was already dead.
Workman remembered Pfc. Bruno Oribiletti, another kid, who had once declared: I'm going to win a medal because my mom wants me to do something special. As the Japanese counterattacked that first night, Oribiletti blasted two of their tanks with a bazooka before he was killed himself. His mother got his Navy Cross and his death notice.
And then there was Priest, shot in the belly the same night. The Japanese charged, "yelling and screaming and waving their swords." Some made it to the beach, illuminated by intermittent flares, even as the Americans fired as fast as they could.
Priest couldn't find his rifle, and all the medics were busy. He begged his fellow Marines to shoot him. But they couldn't risk giving up their own positions. And how do you shoot one of your own? They listened to him die.
"We were scared we would have drawn out the Japs. Nobody had the guts."
He remembered Easter Sunday, April 1, 1945, landing on an eerily quiet beach on Okinawa. Were they at the wrong beach? Was it an April Fool's joke? No. A mock attack had drawn the enemy to another beach. Workman hoped he hadn't used up all his luck.
His two Purple Hearts came on that island, 350 miles from Japan. He earned the first searching for a foxhole without too much water collecting at the bottom from the relentless rains. A mortar shell hit too close, blasting off his pack. Medics thought he was dead and concentrated on the other wounded. Finally, he was taken to a field hospital, rested for four days on a dry cot and sent back out, "ready for combat," with bandages on the worst of his wounds.
He earned the second while the Marines flushed out the hiding enemy. He and a buddy saw a Japanese soldier run to a cement tomb below them. The Marines didn't want to dig in for the night knowing he was down there, so they went after him.
Workman scrambled to the edge of the tomb. The soldier jumped out and stabbed his sword straight through Workman's hip. It was in and out before Workman knew what happened. His buddy killed the soldier, and medics administered plasma in the field, saving Workman's life.
That was the end of the war for Workman. Soon after, when the Japanese surrendered, he knew he'd been spared "the big one" -- the invasion of Japan.
Workman isn't sure if anything on those pages showed up in "Pacific," Ambrose's HBO project.
But he's glad he wrote them down -- even if the bad dreams occasionally still come. He knows now that some things are worth remembering.
Like Aaron Buckley.
On the second night on Okinawa, the second night of a fierce 82-day fight for the island, the Marines shot at a group of Japanese soldiers sneaking up in a stand of trees. All were killed.
Through the quiet, the Marines heard a whimper, a pathetic sort of moan. Buckley went to check.
He found a civilian woman, apparently ordered to march in front of the Japanese soldiers to draw American fire. She was dead, but the whimpering continued. Buckley turned her over. A boy, about 2 years old, was strapped to her back.
A commander told Buckley to "do something." So he took the child into his foxhole, put down his rifle and kept the child quiet through the night, whispering into his ear during the intermittent blasts of machine guns.
Decades later, at reunions, Marine Raiders still talk about Buckley and the boy he saved, Workman said.
"It must mean it wasn't all about killing. There was some humanity left," he said.
"It was one of those aspects you didn't want to forget about. Something you wanted to remember."
They Served With Honor
Some have said that 1,000 World War II veterans die each day in United States. History dies with each one.
"They Served With Honor" is a special project by the Star-Tribune to collect stories from Wyoming World War II veterans. We will feature one story each week, from Veterans Day to Veterans Day.