This morning, the DPAA announced that PFC Paul David Gilman has been accounted for as of 17 May 2018.
Paul was born on 11 January 1924, one of seven children raised by Clarence and Sarah “Sadie” Gilman in Belen, New Mexico. He attended Belen Senior High School, where he and his older brother Earl played varsity football, and worked as a machinist’s helper.
In 1937, Earl joined the Navy and went to sea as a radioman. His term of service was set to expire in 1941, but the threat of war prevented his release. Trapped in the Philippines when the Japanese attacked, Earl would fight in the long retreat back to Corregidor, and was captured when the island fortress fell in May 1942.
Seventeen-year-old Paul joined the Marine Corps on 5 January 1942. Sadie was already worried about one son overseas, but Paul told her “Mother, it’s our job to go. You just take it on the chin and smile.” He fought in the battle of Guadalcanal as a member of M/3/8th Marines, survived, and traveled to Wellington, New Zealand.
While at Camp Paekakariki in the summer of 1943, Paul probably received a letter with news about his brother. Earl Gilman had died at a prison camp in the Philippines in November 1942, and word had only just reached his family.
On 20 November 1943, PFC Paul Gilman’s battalion was designated as a support wave to land on Beach Red 3, Betio. The flat-bottomed boats that carried the men could not cross the island’s barrier reef, and became sitting targets for Japanese gunners. When the ramps went down, Marines jumped into deep water and tried to wade several hundred yards to the shore. Burdened by their heavy weapons, M/3/8 suffered many casualties on their way to the safety of the Red 3 sea wall.
One of them was Paul Gilman, who was trying to help a wounded buddy to safety. He lived for only a few minutes after being hit. His buddies wrote to Sadie Gilman that, although he knew what was to come, Paul died with a smile on his face.
Paul Gilman was buried just a few yards off Red Beach 3, in what would become known as Cemetery 27. His remains were among those found by History Flight and turned over to the DPAA for official identification.
Welcome home, PFC Paul Gilman. Semper Fi.