Among the gyrenes who fought on Okinawa in the spring and summer of 1945 was Private William V. Niader (photo, right), Headquarters and Service Company, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division.
He was born in Pennsylvania, where his father was a coal miner. After Mr. Niader contracted black lung disease in 1942, the family moved to Clifton, New Jersey, to live near their relatives. William, nicknamed "Bill," worked as a welder, although he was only sixteen years old.
Like thousands of other young men, Bill joined the Marine Corps in August 1944 to serve the nation. Completing recruit training at Marine Barracks, Parris Island, Bill was trained as an infantry Marine. He was then sent to Camp Pendleton, California, for assignment to the 46th Replacement Draft. He joined the 1st Marine Division on 17 May 1945 during the campaign for Okinawa.
The 7th Marines attacked Kunishi Ridge on the night of 11-12 June 1945. The ridge was a sheer coral escarpment on southern Okinawa. About 1,500 yards long, it had been heavily fortified by the Japanese to protect the approaches to Kiyama.
During the battle, Private Niader was a stretcher bearer with the mission of evacuating wounded Marines from the battlefield. He was killed at about 1700 on 12 June 1945 by an enemy artillery round. When he died, Bill was nineteen years old, and had served ten months in the Marine Corps.
Bill left behind his mom and dad, sister and his little brother, Frank, who was thirteen years old. Frank remembers his big brother and honors his memory every day.
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The author: Frank Niader (Clifton, NJ) is the brother of Private William Niader (USMC), who was KIA on 12 June 1945, on Kunishi Ridge, Okinawa. Frank wrote the above poem in June 2000, in loving memory of his brother.