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Walter DeLanoit, of Badger

He traveled in subs on way to foreign beaches

November 1, 2012
By BILL SHEA, bshea@messengernews.net , Messenger News

BADGER - Climbing out of submarines and into small boats in the Pacific Ocean during the dark of night was routine for Walter DeLanoit during the first half of his Marine Corps service.

During the second half, he taught Marines heading to combat in the Korean War how to use handguns, rifles and machine guns.

His Marine Corps duty was part of a family tradition that has included eight DeLanoits serving their country. That started with his father, Peter, who was an airplane mechanic with the American Expeditionary Force in World War I, even though he wasn't yet a United States citizen.

Article Photos

Walter DeLanoit, of Badger, a World War II and Korean War veteran, looks at a photograph taken as he helped carry his brother’s casket out of Corpus Christi Church in 1948 when his remains were returned to the U.S. DeLanoit served in the Marine Corps. His brother, Robert DeLanoit, served from 1939 until his death on Jan. 18, 1945, as the war wound down.

His older brothers, Clarence and Robert, were the next ones to put on American military uniforms. They both served in World War II. Clarence DeLanoit was in an Army field artillery unit, while Robert DeLanoit flew cargo planes in the Army Air Force. He was killed when one of those planes was shot down.

Walter DeLanoit said his brother was flying a C-47 Skytrain near the border of India and Burma on Jan. 18, 1945, when the Japanese hit the plane with a mortar round.

''There's nothing to weep about because he loved what he was doing,'' he said.

Fact Box

This is part of a continuing series that will appear daily in The Messenger through Veterans Day, Nov. 11.

DeLanoit enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1947. He had to rely on a little bit of trickery to do so because he was 16 years old at the time. He said he picked the Marine Corps because his brothers were in the Army and he wanted to do something he believed would set him apart from them.

''The Corps is my whole life because they gave me a home, and they taught me a lot of things,'' he said.

He went to Des Moines to be inducted into the service. There, he met a sergeant who told him, ''Son, if you keep your mouth shut and your ears open, you'll go somewhere in the Marine Corps.''

Boot camp at the Marine Corps base in San Diego, Calif., followed. He subsequently went to Camp Pendleton, Calif., where he was assigned to a reconnaissance unit of the 1st Marine Division.

That unit's job included checking out beaches where Marines might have to come ashore during a war. Marines in DeLanoit's outfit traveled in submarines until they were about 10 miles from the designated beach. There, the submarine would surface and the Marines would climb into small boats for the trip to the beach. After scouting the beach, they then returned to the submarine.

DeLanoit traveled in two different submarines, the USS Perch and the USS Sea Lion. He enjoyed his underwater journeys.

''It's quiet,'' he said of a submarine. ''It rides like a cigar. And when you hear them call 'dive, dive, dive' you jump in the nearest bunk because the whole crew is coming through on the run.''

He said he still doesn't know the names of most of the islands where his unit sneaked ashore.

Occasionally, the sub would surface during the day so that the sailors and Marines could go swimming. DeLanoit usually circled the swimmers in a boat, keeping an eye out for sharks.

He was discharged from the Marine Corps in May 1950.

The following month, North Korea invaded South Korea, launching the Korean War. That resulted in DeLanoit being recalled to duty in October 1950.

He said he was prohibited from going into combat because of his brother's World War II death. So when he returned to active duty, he was sent back to Camp Pendleton and became a firearms instructor. He was discharged for the final time in December 1951.

DeLanoit returned to Webster County and began farming near Badger. He also operated a security guard company.

Later generations continued the Delanoit family tradition of military service. One of his sons, the late Doug DeLanoit, was a security police officer in the Air Force. Two other sons, Dan and Michael, were Marines. A grandson, Steve DeLanoit, served in the Navy.

 
 
 

 

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