MONTVILLE, NJ -- Gerry Gemian recently spoke with TAPinto Montville and told us about his service with the 101st Signal Battalion in the Central Pacific during World War II. He was a Staff Sergeant Technician 3rd grade.
“When I enlisted in the Army in 1942, you had to take an aptitude test,” Gemian said. “They told me I had a ‘good ear’ and sent me to radio school. I didn’t like it though. I like working with my hands. So they sent me to wire school, where I learned to run cable and wire boards.”
Gemian became a radio operator. His team would land on shore and he would radio back to the ships for more firepower.
“We had a grid system,” Gemian said. “You would tell them where to fire the guns from the ship using the grid coordinates.”
Gemian fought in the Kwajalein and Eniwetok campaigns in the Marshall Islands, and throughout the central Pacific campaigns of the Mariana Islands and Palau Islands, against the Japanese.
“I was scared of snipers and booby traps,” he said. “It was so hot you were drained; it was 110° sometimes. I would carry a cartridge belt, two canteens of water, and two grenades on my bandolier.”
Gemian said his team’s job was to secure the island and set up a communications base, and report the firing ranges to the fleet and the field artillery on the island. The Navy construction battalion would build a landing strip in order to bring in reinforcements and supplies.
“We would remain in combat until the island was secured, then I would get on another task force and go on to the next island, until the end of the war,” he said.
Gemian was part of JASCO, the Joint Assault Signal Company, which collaborated with the Marines and Navy under U.S. Admiral Chester Nimitz. Nimitz was in command of the Central Pacific Theater of Operations.
Gemian was born in Connecticut in 1922, came out of the Army in 1945, and moved to Montville in 1977.
TAPinto Montville has profiled several of Montville’s veterans: