Kirby, Larry

Larry Kirby was born June 21, 1924, in Brookline, Massachusetts.  He grew up against the backdrop of the Great Depression, dealing with the deprivation and circumstances that were part of the era.  Still, Larry doesn’t remember that time in a negative way; it was just the reality that all families in his neighbourhood encountered.  Larry’s childhood was a positive one, replete with good memories of family, school, and friends.  December 7, 1941 challenged that; Larry knew the Pearl Harbour attack would change his life.  Not long after, Larry was 18, and he enlisted in the Marine Corps.  He went to Parris Island for basic training, followed by a stint at Camp Pendleton before going overseas.  They headed to New Caledonia, and then onto Guadalcanal.  Larry would see his first combat on Bougainville, which he described as the “worst place I have been in my life”: the conditions in the jungle were terrible, and the wetness was inescapable, and the enemy was intractable.  Larry made it through that campaign, and was on to the Marianas and Guam next.  The Marines secured Guam and made it their base, all the while preparing for the next assault – Iwo Jima.  They started as a reserve force, but as the battle extended they were called into action, and Larry survived the hellish assault at Cushman’s Pocket.  The losses were terrible, but Larry credits this battle with giving him a direction and purpose and understanding in life.  He left Iwo Jima not too long after, to return to Guam.  There the men learned of the atomic bomb, and of the end of the war.  Larry returned back to the United States at this time.  He was treated for a time at the Bainbridge Naval Hospital, and from there he returned home, soon deciding to take advantage of the GI Bill and its offer of free college tuition.  It was at Emerson College that Larry met his future wife, and the two of them eloped to New York to wed, and Larry began his family and career there.  Mr. Masters’ American History class had the opportunity to meet Larry via zoom in March 2021.