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Martin Apostolico

Submitted by: Steven Apostolico {Grandson}

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Martin Apostolico was born December 3, 1900 in Philadelphia, PA. Martin Apostolico served in World War I with 82nd Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Regiment of the United States Marines. The enlistment was June 8, 1917 and the service was completed May 21, 1919.

Story of Service

My grandfather, Martin Apostolico, enlisted at the tender age of 16. He lied about both his age and name so that he would be accepted. He enlisted as Martin Woods, so that his parents would not know. He originally had his training at Parris Island, South Carolina where he was sent to Cook School. He had a scar on his arm where he cut himself learning to sharpen knifes.

It did not take long however for his parents to learn of his enlistment. His name was corrected, and he was sent to Quantico, Virginia as Martin Apostolico, where he joined a rifle company (he qualified as a sharpshooter) of the Sixth Regiment.

He arrived “Over There” on May 9, 1918. He served at Belleau Wood, Chateau-Thierry, Aisne-Marne Offensive, St Mihiel Offensive, Champagne Offensive (Blanc Mont Ridge), and the Meuse Argonne Offensive.

He served in the same battalion as highly decorated sergeant Daniel Daly. It is not known, as is popularly attributed in Marine Corps lore, if he heard him yell "Come on, you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?" as the 3rd Battalion 6th Marines led the charge on June 6, 1918 across the famous wheat field at Belleau Wood. He was, however, proud to learn of the story that German officers, in their battle reports, referred to the Marines as "Teufel Hunden" (German for "Devil Dogs") as a result of the ferocity with which the Marines fought for three weeks before clearing the Germans from Belleau Wood.

Martin Apostolico was wounded on July 19, 1918 when the 6th Regiment led an attack at Soissons near Vierzy. The attack was across open ground. The German artillery together with machine gun fire slaughtered the lead first and second battalions such that the 3rd battalion, which was initially in reserve, melded into the lead battalions. Casualties averaged more than 50 percent. His wound was from artillery fire, he was struck in the back of the head. He did not realize he was wounded till his gas mask began to fill with blood. He passed out shortly after. Credit his helmet for saving his life, as well as the medical litter bearers of the day for helping to get him to camp hospital #4 and subsequently base hospital #17.

Upon release from the hospital he went to a train station to return to his unit. There he met some friends who were Marine Corps Police. He told them he would like to see Paris before he was killed in action – which at this point he felt sure of given the fierce fighting he had already taken part in. They helped by giving him money and advise on what to see and do. He returned to the front just in time to join his unit to “Go over the Top”. He never missed an offensive.

He recalled an evening when the captain made him a runner because of his young age. He made his way in pitch darkness over unknown terrain to find the trail, only to trip to over the dead body of the guy he replaced.

Other recollections include:

  • Eating horsemeat.
  • Fishing by throwing hand grenades into rivers.
  • Arriving in small French Towns and going to the center to pump water. The French would always come out and say “No! No! No!” and bring out their good wine.

Martin Apostolico was in a Paris hospital recovering from reactions from a gas attack when the war ended. He was awarded the following for his service:

  • Marksmanship Qualification Sharpshooter
  • Verdun Medal
  • Victory Medal
  • Aisne-Marne Battle Clasp
  • St, Mihiel Battle Clasp 9/12-9/15 1918
  • Meuse-Argonne Battle Clasp 11/1-11/11 1918
  • Purple Heart
  • Croix de Guerre with 2 palm and one star
  • Fourragere de Crois de Guerre (as a result of the Regiment being awarded the French Croix de Guerre three times).

 Martin Apostolico full

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