Born June 23, 1919, north of Muleshoe, Texas, Roy was the first
child of a pioneer Bailey County farming and ranching couple. His
father died when he was 4 years old and Roy was forced to grow up
fast, learning how to work hard at a very young age.
While attending Muleshoe High School, Roy first met and fell in love
with Malda Chandler. After graduating from high school, Roy attended
Texas A&M for 2 years. In 1940
he enlisted in the Marines.
A few years later his unit, the 8th Marine Regiment, went into
the fight at Guadalcanal, where he commanded a platoon of 37 mm
gunners. They endured Japanese attacks, malarial tropical weather,
and starvation rations. His combat leadership earned him a Silver
Star and a battlefield promotion.
On D-Day at Tarawa his platoon waded their 37 mm cannons ashore,
each weighing nearly 1,000 pounds, through half a mile of
bullet-laced surf to get to an island where the killing never
stopped. His was the only platoon to get its guns ashore and into
action that first day. At Saipan, Elrod commanded a platoon of 75 mm
halftracks, but he was riddled with shrapnel from an enemy artillery
shell that took him out of the war.
After that, he led a battalion of anti-tank guns ashore through
withering fire onto the beaches of Tarawa. All four of his guns made
it into action and played a pivotal roll in knocking out the command
His last, and final, combat was at Saipan, where he was severely
wounded by Japanese artillery fire. He was awarded the Purple Heart
for his action at Saipan, and on the 70th anniversary of the battle,
returned to the island, along with other Marines, to a hero’s
After recovering from his wounds, Roy made his way as quickly as he
could to Galveston, Texas, where Malda was working at the time. They
were married on December 21, 1944 and enjoyed 64 years of marriage,
making 3 trips around the world, before Malda passed away in 2008.
After the war, Roy went on to complete a storied career in the
Marines, retiring as a Lt. Colonel.
After his military service, Roy enjoyed a very successful
construction career, building numerous hospitals, schools and
developments throughout the D.C. area.
Lt. Col. Roy Holland Elrod, USMC (Ret.), 97 passed away peacefully on December 17, 2016 at his home
in Fredericksburg Texas.
Lt. Col. Elrod's account of his time with the marines at
Guadalcanal, Tarawa, and Saipan is on our list of "Books
about Bailey County People and Places"
We Were Going to
Win, Or Die There by Roy h. Elrod (Amazon)