Thanks to Mike Rogan for sending this story and photo, and allowing us to publish.
“My Grandfather has been a hero of mine for a long time, even though he died in 1992 when I was only six. Henry Ambrose Snell Jr. was born in Bethel Maine in 1919. He grew up on an apple farm before graduating from the University of Maine where, at almost six feet tall, he played on the basketball team.
“When America joined WWII Henry enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. Because he had a college degree he has sent to OCS; my Grandma, who is still alive, told me that he aced the math portion of his exam so well that the officer in charge thought he had cheated and made him do it again. He was part of an Artillery regiment in the 4th Marine Reserve Division and after first being stationed in California he left for the Pacific while my grandmother was pregnant with their first child. He took part in the battle of Kwajalein, where the Japanese were badly mistreading the native Marshall Islanders and had sent thousands of Korean prisoners there for forced labor. Hank Snell took an Arisaka rifle from a dead Japanese soldier and sent it back home, he kept that rifle for the rest of his life.
“In june 1944, 25 year old Second Lieutenant Henry Snell Landed on the island of Saipan, and fought in a battle that would leave nearly 3,000 American Marines and Soldiers and 29,000 Japanese soldiers dead, and 22,000 Japanese civilians brain-washed into thinking that Americans would rape, torture, and kill them would commited suicide by jumping off cliffs or blowing themselves up with grenades. Lieutenant Hank Snell’s job was to go ahead of the lines and locate Japanese bunkers and call in artillery strikes. It was during the Battle of Saipan that my Grandfather was wounded. He was in a foxhole with a 17 year old radioman when a Japanese mortar round hit their position. The young radioman was killed, the explosion so violent that they were not able to find much of his body. Lieutenant Snell was badly wounded with shrapn el in his legs and back, and he was evacuated to Guam and recieved the Purple Heart.
“Henry Ambrose Snell Jr. remained in the Marine Reserves intil 1962, retiring with the rank of Major. He worked in the Defense Department and lived with my grandma in Maryland, raising a total of six children including my mother. He had a hard time after the war. He had post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his time in combat, and he had a drinking problem. He certainly had his issues, but the grandpa I remember is a man who loved his country, I remember the many times I visited him and grandma, and he would always greet me by poking me in the chest and smiling.
Henry “Hank” Ambrose Snell Jr. died in his sleep in 1992 of cancer, but I always picture him as that lankey young man who loved America and who did his job Always Faithful,