The Night before Christmas

This piece is from a Dec. 1944 issue of The Leatherneck which was a Marine magazine that ran from July 1944 to Dec. 1945. Article submitted by resident Wanda Kershner.

Verse by PFC Duane Decker

Art by Corp Fred Lasswell

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through SoPac,
Not a creature was stirring – too damn much ack-ack:
The dungarees hung by the M-1’s with care,
In case that the Shambos quite soon would be there:
Each private was nestled all snug in his sack,
Expecting not Santa but Japs on SoPac
The sergeant in scivvies. Machete in his lap
Had settled himself for a tropical nap.
The rats and the lizards were out on patrol,
For Christmas Eve visits to every foxhole.
No candy canes hung from the waving palm fronds,
Instead were signs saying: “Have you bought war bonds?”

This private named Jones who had corked off at last,
Was dreaming sweet dreams of a blonde from the past.
When out on the beach there arose such a clatter,
He sprang from his sack to see what was the matter.
Away to a pillbox he flew like a flash,
Fast loading his rifle while making the dash.
The moon on the breast of the white coral sand
Cave luster of midday to objects at hand;
When what to his wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.

“My God!” he exclaimed, and his face turned quite pale,
“Poor Santa got stuck with the SoPac detail!”
More rapid than Zeros his coursers they came
And he whistled and called them (in cadence) by name:
“Yo Dasher! Yo Dancer!” –and so on to each-
“It’s H-Hour now, and we’re hitting the beach!”
And then in a flash before Jones knew the score,
Old Santa was standing right there on the shore.

His clothing was G.I., of plain Forest Green,
He looked like a very fat U.S. Marine.
Instead of a big sack of toys, for a gag,
He’d slung on his shoulder a large lister bag.
He spoke not a word, but went straight on his way,
And filled all the foxholes with stuff from his sleigh:
Machine guns and mortars and plenty of rifles,
Bolo knives, flamethrowers, other such trifles.

But Jones’ deep emotions were not greatly stirred-
He felt it was time that St. Nick got the word.
Jones stepped into view and said, “Sir lookit here,
A Marine would prefer a cold bottle of beer,
Some French fried potatoes, some pie a la mode-
And really that stuff wouldn’t make such a load.
It’d still leave you room to bring pin-ups with zing,
And a portable vic with the latest by Bing.
A pinochle deck, a harmonica, too,
The scoop on the folks back in Kalamazoo-“
“Now hold it my boy,” said St. Nick with a frown,
“A lot of these items I’d gladly mark down,

But what with priorities, red points and blue,
Paper curtailments and shortages too,
Marines must give up, as a pal to a pal,
These things that maintain our civilian morale.
This isn’t too much to be asked of the Corps,
Or, don’t you guys know that we’re fighting a war?”
Then he sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle;
But Jones heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
“Merry Christmas, Marines, and to all a good-night.”

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