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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Siwash the gallant duck who fought with the marines

Siwash, a duck, was the mascot of the First Battalion of the Tenth Marine Regiment and later the entire Second Marine Division during World War II. And not only was he a duck, but he was also a Kiwi!

Yes, he was a New Zealand duck.  As the story goes, a marine by the name of Frank Fagin won him in a raffle, while his battalion was camped at Plimmerton, just north of Wellington, New Zealand.  

It is strongly believed that the famous duck was hatched at the Gray farm, and was donated to the raffle organizer (a pub) for charity.  The story also goes that when the marines went on route march, Siwash went with them, hopping from shoulder to shoulder as he enjoyed the scenery.  There is no record of him committing an indiscretion on a uniform. 

When the battalion sailed into battle, Siwash went with them, famously joining in the Battle of Tarawa, in 1943.  And there his gallantry during battle with a Japanese-owned rooster merited a citation.

The January 17, 1944 issue of Life magazine quotes the citation:
For courageous action and wounds received on Tarawa, in the Gilbert Islands, November 1943. With utter disregard for his own personal safety, Siwash, upon reaching the beach, without hesitation engaged the enemy in fierce combat, namely, one rooster of Japanese ancestry, and though wounded on the head by repeated pecks, he soon routed the opposition. He refused medical aid until all wounded members of his section had been care of.
The article also notes that Siwash was skilled at the Marine sport of drinking beer. 

After the war, he lived on a farm before working as a Marine recruiter during the Korean War.  And after that he was given an honorable retirement at the Lincoln Zoo, in Chicago.

And of course, when he died, he merited an obituary. 

1 comment:

Optos Loptos said...

great story! Siwash was the bravest duck ever :)