An article of military clothing which is, without question, not only one of the rarest pieces of U.S. Marine Corps history but which, beyond that, constitutes one of the rarest articles of American Airborne history: the first pattern paratrooper jump smock of a World War II Paramarine. More significantly, this jump smock was worn and used by Private First Class Howard Joseph Cahill, a young Marine paratrooper who fought as a Paramarine in the Pacific and who, after the dissolution of the unit, fought with the 5th Marine Division on Iwo Jima, where he was killed in action in March of 1945.
This first pattern smock is in exceptional condition, showing genuine use but no abuse. It is constructed of the same green cotton HBT material used by the Marine Corps for its fatigue uniforms. The left pocket flap and the interior neck both bear the names stamp "HJ Cahill". The smock has a few spots, as would be expected for a uniform article that saw actual service, but there are no tears, holes, or distracting stains. The "Talon" zippers on the front and the two large leg pockets function perfectly, and all pocket snaps are in place and functional.
The smock is accompanied by a complete copy of the Marine Corps personnel file of Howard Cahill. The file reflects that Cahill, then 23 years old, enlisted in the Marine Corps in October of 1941, six weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbor, and he joined "For the Duration of the National Emergency". He underwent Paramarine training in early 1942, ultimately being assigned to the 1st Marine Parachute Regiment of the 2nd Parachute Battalion, and arriving on Guadalcanal in September of 1943 while the battle for that island was underway. He then participated in the combat actions of the Paramarines on Choiseul Island in October and November of 1943 which led to a Letter of Commendation being given to the 2nd Parachute Battalion by General Vandergrift, Commander of the First Marine Amphibious Corps. Ultimately the Paramarine units were absorbed by other formations later in the war, and Cahill was assigned to the 5th Marine Division. It was as a member of that unit that Howard Cahill gave his life for his country when, on March 5 of 1945, he was killed in action by a gunshot wound to the chest during combat on Iwo Jima. The personnel file which accompanies this jump smock even includes a letter written to Cahill's mother from an officer on Iwo Jima, briefly relating the circumstances of her son's death, telling her that during combat operations which involved "a last push for the northern beaches", her son "was hit by Jap bullets and lost his life". Private Cahill was buried in the 5th Marine Division Cemetery on Iwo Jima until, after the war, he was returned to New Jersey.
The jump smock is, quite simply, an extraordinary piece of history that was worn by a young Marine Corps paratrooper who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country in one of the pivotal battles of the Second World War.