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First Marine Division Association
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Jim "Doc" Gleason

 

Jim Gleason
Jim "Doc" Gleason

 

Jim "Doc" Gleason was only seventeen when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a corpsman. Photo provided by Raider Publishing via Facebook.
Published: April 25, 2016
Updated: April 25, 2016 at 07:07 PM
 
TAMPA - In the summer of 1925, a woman put her 2-week old son in a shoebox and dropped him off with a neighbor because she couldn't take care of him.
James Gleason has been born prematurely, said his daughter, Barbara Korchak.
"He wasn't expected to live," Korchak said.
But he did, and in summer 1943, he turned 18 during a bloody World War II battle on the island of New Georgia, where he was saving lives as a Navy combat corpsman assigned to a secret unit called the Marine Raiders.
 
Gleason earned the nickname "Doc" during his time with the Raiders. The first U.S. special operations forces, the Raiders were about 8,000 strong, hopping from island to island in the South Pacific, giving the vaunted forces of the Japanese empire their first taste of defeat on the ground.
 
Gleason, who moved to Clearwater in 1974, was believed to be the youngest of the Raiders, having joined them when he was 17. The things Gleason saw caused him lasting mental anguish. And it would be decades before his family knew the extent of what he experienced, after he wrote his account of the Raiders, "Real Blood! Real Guts!"
His legacy was so enduring that Marine Gen. Robert Neller invited Gleason to his change of command ceremony when he took over as commandant of the corps last year. As Gleason's life drew to a close, Neller and Mark Clark, a retired major general who ran Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, were among many who stopped to pay their respects.
 
On Friday, Gleason died.
He was 90.

 

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