Charles Stix, 3rd Amphibious Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division, US Marine Corps, 1943-1946
Posted On: 08/30/2017 - 12:11pm, Posted By: David Conzett, Curator of History Objects & Fine Art
A descendent of an early German immigrant family, Charles Stix was born in Cincinnati in March 1925. As a boy he spent summers at a wilderness camp in Minnesota where he learned outdoor skills and discipline – knowledge that would later serve him well in the Marine Corps. He attended a private University School and later Walnut Hills High School. One Sunday, after playing football with my high school fraternity, we heard on the radio that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. We thought, Pearl Harbor, where’s that? Pfc. Charles Stix, 1st Marine Division.
Charles Stix graduated from high school in 1943 and joined the U.S. Marine Corps. He received basic recruit training at Parris Island, South Carolina, followed by Combat Intelligence and Jungle Warfare training at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. After his training, he was sent to the 61st Replacement Battalion at Norfolk, Virginia, where he boarded a transport ship with 10,000 other marines for Pearl Harbor. Because of his experience as a truck driver, he was assigned to the 3rd Armored Amphibious Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division on Pavuvu in the Russell Islands.
As a crewman aboard an Amtrack (Amphibious Tractor), Pfc. Stix participated in the invasion of Peleliu in September 1944. Peleliu Island was a Japanese fortress of coral and interlocking limestone caves defended by 11,000 troops. The landing beaches had been pre-sighted by Japanese artillery, machine guns and were covered with obstacles and land mines. Amphibious tanks had the ability to land the infantry on the beach and proceed about 100 yards inland – if they could get that far. The infantry would come in behind us in Higgins Boats – they would unload and the men would then go ashore and get themselves positioned. Our tanks were then to turn around, facing our guns out to sea [Amtracks were armed with 37mm or 75mm cannons], in case the Japanese attempted a counter-attack. The Japanese didn’t counter-attack at Peleliu... Pfc. Charles Stix, 1st Marine Division.
Following the initial invasion at Peleliu, when the amphibious tractors were no longer needed, Stix became a rifleman. From that point on we [the amphibious tank crewmen] became rifleman. I was assigned to a machine gun crew with two other young marines – we were to keep the Japanese from infiltrating our lines during the night. It was horrible, I was lobbing hand grenades all night because I thought the Japanese would creep up and cause damage. Pfc. Charles Stix, 1st Marine Division.
Stix took part in the Battle of Okinawa and prepared for the invasion of Japan in 1945. In the Marines, Pfc. Stix learned three valuable lessons – always wear your helmet, and never look over the edge to see what’s on the other side and never volunteer. He returned to Cincinnati in February 1946 as a Corporal. After graduating from the University of Cincinnati, he worked at the U.S. Shoe company until he retired in 1979. At ninety two years of age, Charles Stix works part-time today as a sales representative of a shoe company. He lives in Cincinnati.