Edward Albert McNulty

Edward Albert McNulty 1915

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Edward Albert Mc Nulty was born on January 23, 1915 at 23 Milford Street, Belfast, Northern Ireland.  He was the eldest of four children born to James Mc Nulty and Annie (Mc Cusker) Mc Nulty. He was baptized at St. Peters Pro-Cathedral in Belfast.

He continued to live at 23  Milford Street, until the age of nine, when his mother took him and his siblings to join their father in the United States.  The family traveled aboard the SS Cameronia, departing (London)Derry on December 13, 1924 and arriving in New York on December 23, 1924.

The family originally joined Eds father at his home at 470 Vandevoort Avenue, in Brooklyn, NY.  Later they relocated to 375 Beekman Avenue in the Bronx, NY.  Ed attended La Salle Academy High-School in lower Manhattan.  Some time after his graduation from High School, he became a member of the Marine reserves, and was employed by Railway Express at the time of his call-up to active duty in 1944.  He also competed in Golden Glove Boxing competitions.  

Ed was a happy fellow, who enjoyed a good time.  He courted and married Mary Catherine (Mae) Connolly on August 23, 1941 in St. Jeromes Church on 138th Street in the Bronx. The newlyweds eventually took up residence at 371 Beekman Avenue, in the Bronx, where they resided when their son, Robert Edward (Bobby), was born on July 11, 1942. Mae was pregnant with their daughter, Eileen Margaret at the time of Eds departure for active duty.  Eileen was born on April 28, 1945, and although Ed would learn, with great excitement of her birth, he and she would never meet.

Ed was sent to Camp Le Jeune, North Carolina where he completed the Rifleman Class during the period of 16 October 1944 to 25 November1944.  He was considered proficient in the following subjects:  Methods of Instruction, Mechanical Training, Rifle and Carbine; Technique of Rifle Fire; Map and Ariel Photograph Reading; Browning Automatic Rifle; Grenade (Hand and AT-M9); Individual in Combat; Rifle Squad in Combat; and Rifle Platoon in Combat.

Subsequent to completion of training, he joined his unit prior to the invasion of Okinawa.  The action that Eds company experienced was intense during the Okinawa campaign.  Correspondence from Ed, information gathered from historical documents and letters from his Lieutenant to Eds parents and wife all confirm how weather, terrain, and an unyielding Japanese enemy made the battle for Okinawa hellacious.

The major concentration of Japanese forces were to the southern end of the island, and the American forces very promptly cut the island in half, and then quickly cleared the northern end. However, the ease with which this was accomplished was not to be repeated as the American troops participated in the exhausting struggle to advance towards the south. By the end of May, 1945, the 1st Marine Division had been grinding away for five consecutive weeks in a frontal assault as part of the10th Army.  According to Marine Corps history, the 1st Marines advanced only a thousand yards during the course of 18 days.  

Rain and mud plagued the troops as the so called plum rains of May and June turned the battlefields into a sea of mud.   In his last letter home, Ed comments: I had to laugh when I received your letter telling me about the rain in N.Y.  There I was sitting in the rain and mud day after day continuously wet and no sunshine in sight, just wishing I could run out of the house and getting soaking wet, then come in and take a hot bath, get into bed and look at the rain through the window.  All the fellows were getting letters like that, we got a laugh out of it.

The marines fought their way across the unforgiving terrain in the form of a series of ridge lines called Kakazu, Dakeshi and Wana in an effort to achieve the campaigns main objective of Shuri Ridge, the command center for the Japanese 32nd Army, and the site of the enemys forward artillery positions.  

However, the principal success for Eds own Company A was the actual capture of Shuri Ridge on May 29, 1945. Unbeknownst to the Marines, the Japanese had largely vacated the fortress during the prior evening. Slogging again through the rain, Company A, 1st Battalion, 5thMarines (A/1/5) approached the fortress, they expected to be greeted by fierce gunfire.  However, there was little, and the company swept into the fortress with little resistance.  Thankfully, after securing the ridge, they learned that the 77th Infantry had planned a major artillery barrage of the ridge that morning, and it was called off and tragedy was averted.  But as the company secured the castle and setup defensive positions they were unaware that literally beneath the ground where they stood a rear guard left by the Japanese was hidden in the hand dug tunnels.  During clean-up operations in the following days, Eds individual efforts, with his misspelled name and incorrect address not withstanding, were acknowledged in the New York newspapers,  as follows:  "A squad leader, Corp. Edward W. McNulty, 85 Beekman Ave. and a lieutenant shot it out with the last two Japs, killing them at point-blank range.  In addition to grenades, the Japs were armed with sabers and pistols. "

After the capture of the Shuri ridge, and the subsequent clean-up operations, Eds company was, according to his last letter, resting up as our share is finished with a little extra thrown in for good measure. Ironically, in this letter, postmarked on June 12th, Ed felt that his part in the battle of Okinawa was truly finished.  He wrote:  The way things are going, it shouldnt take much longer to secure the island and we may not be called up again unless absolutely needed in an emergency.  He wrote further that the priest had been up and given absolution to the troops. He wanted his wife to share that with his mother, saying:  Now that the soul is OK, all I have to worry about is the body.  But that was not to be.  In a letter to Eds parents, his Lieutenant wrote:  As before each push, we all received Holy Communion and the Chaplain was always in the know and there before we knew ourselves what was up.  It was a matter of seeing the Chaplain in the area & saying to ourselves here we go again!  And so it was that Eds company was called to action again.  Their mission was to take Hill79, but this time his luck failed him.  

 A recounting of the battle for Hill 79 is described on a Japanese Military web page, (http://japanesemilitary.blogspot.com/2017/04/battle-of-hill-81-okinawa…)

On June 19th, the 1/5 attempted to take the hill again. However even with armored support they were unable to advance to the hill crest. During this attempt 3 tanks were taken out by the IJA 42nd Artillery's howitzers as well\'85.

 Hills 79 and 81 when viewed from the south approximately 300m away. Hill 79 and Hill 81 are roughly 400m away from each other. Well within rifle shot range.

However, every time the 2/5 attempts to attack hill 81, they received heavy sniper fire from IJA42nd Artillery on the east side of hill 79 and were unable to advance forward. Even though 2/5 was ready to commit Company F to assault the hill, (Company G, the leading company were exhausted from the earlier failed assault) the volume of fire coming from both hills 79 and 81, combined with the lateness of the hour, forced them to call off the assault and to wait until the next day.

On June 20th, 1/5renewed their efforts on hill 79 with supporting tanks. Approaching from the north western side of the slope, and advanced towards the hill crest once again.

1/5 with company A, B, C launched an assault from the North West direction of the hill at 0730 withtank support, and by 1300 Charlie company got within 75 yards of the hillcrest.

Able company reported the hill taken at 1635 but two hours later were forced to withdraw to the northwestern slope side due to accurate enemy small arms fire and dug in for the day. Most of the hill was secured by this point and decisions were made to secure the hill on the following day.

It was on June 20, 1945 that Ed died instantly from a rifle bullet through the head. It took over two hours before his comrades could retrieve his body out of the draw his patrol had gone into.  

On July 24, over a month after his demise, Mae Mc Nulty was notified by telegram that Ed had been killed in action. His remains were interred in the 1st Marine Division cemetery in Okinawa. (grave #359, plot #3.)  After four years, his body was returned to the United States and was interred on February 8, 1949 at Long  Island National Cemetery (grave 14143, section J)

As a Marine Non-Commissioned Officer, Eds bravery and leadership skills were held in the highest regard by his superiors.  His Lieutenant, writing home after his death said the following:

"After being interviewed on that patrol and cave deal I told him of the prospects of the story making print and he thought I was kidding, finally volunteering to give his home address - which I understand turned up in error.  At any rate, Ed was absolutely fearless that day and you can well be proud of him."

Then when they reformed the company, Ed joined my platoon.  It pleased me no end because I knew of his excellent qualities and capabilities for leadership.  He was one of my fire team leaders, and then squad leader - one real good N.C.O. if I ever saw one.

Edward Albert Mc Nulty was awarded the Purple Heart on August 9, 1945, and received a presidential acknowledgement signed by Harry Truman.  As a member of the 1stMarines he also received the Presidential Unit Citation which states in part:  \'85The First Marine Division, Reinforced, turned southward to drive steadily forward through a formidable system of natural and man-made defenses protecting the main enemy bastion as Shuri Castle.  Laying bitter siege to the enemy until the defending garrison was reduced and the elaborate fortifications at Shuri destroyed, these intrepid Marines\'85  Given that it was Ed Mc Nulty and his own Company A that actually secured the Shuri Ridge, this citation was well deserved.

Attachment Size
St. Peter's Pro Cathederal - Belfast.jpg (3.62 MB) 3.62 MB
Hills 79 and 81- Okinawa.jpg (37.29 KB) 37.29 KB
Additional Information
Date of Birth 23rd Jan 1915
Date of Death 20th Jun 1945

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