During an intense firefight at the Tenaru River on Guadalcanal in August of 1942, Marine Private Al Schmid, a Philadelphia metal worker, shared a machine gun emplacement with two other young Marines: Johnny Rivers, a Native-American from rural Pennsylvania, and Lee Diamond, a Jew from Brooklyn. During many hours of night combat, as wave after wave of Japanese tried unsuccessfully to cross the Tenaru and overwhelm the thin line of American defenders, first Rivers was shot and instantly killed, and then Diamond was severely wounded. Furious over the death of his friend and fighting for his life, Schmid continued to try to ward off the enemy. Toward the end of the battle, which was to prove decisive for securing Guadalcanal, he was wounded by a grenade fragment. One of his eyes was immediately destroyed and the other was greatly damaged. Now sightless, Schmid continued, with what little aid the barely conscious Diamond could provide, to fire the machine gun. Eventually he was credited with killing two hundred Japanese before his position was relieved in the morning. Schmid spent much of the next two years in military hospitals, where unsuccessful efforts were made to save what little sight remained to him, and where he began the process of blind rehabilitation.