79 years ago

1,367 Views | 5 Replies | Last: 2 mo ago by JABQ04
one safe place
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79 years ago, my dad and those in the Second Marine Division tried to sleep as best they could. I suspect the heat inside of the troop ships and the anxiety of what the next day was going to be like afforded them very little sleep. Up early for a breakfast of steak and eggs, a breakfast dish they had picked up from the Kiwi families that had all but adopted our Marines prior to this battle. He was 23, a bit older than most, but he, nor many of the others, had any experience at killing people or being shot at. Holy hell that was about to change.

He climbed into the LVT and eventually headed to the beach and their thoughts that there couldn't possibly be a single Japanese still alive on Tarawa (Betio) soon were proven wrong. They had put cosmoline on their weapons the night before and that simple act nearly caused him to get killed because sand stuck to it and his BAR jammed as soon as they hit the beach.

There were so many mistakes made and there was a price paid for those mistakes.

I have been there twice, waded in on Red Beach 1, the beach where he landed. Walked the entire length of it as well as Red Beach 2, so that I was positive that my footsteps crossed where his footsteps came ashore. I waded in wearing shorts and flip flops and a fishing shirt. He (at 145 pounds) had his BAR, 10 or 12 magazines of 20 rounds each, Ka-Bar, trenching tool, canteens, a uniform made of material that did not breathe in the tropical heat of summer near the equator, helmet, boots, etc. I still do not see how a single Marine ever made it to the beach. The Japanese commander, Keiji Shibasaki, had said that Tarawa could not be taken by a million men in one hundred years. He underestimated our Marines. They took it in 76 hours.

There are still just over 400 Marines whose remains have not been recovered, but the search goes on. It has taken awhile, but our promise of "No Man Left Behind" are not hollow words. Hopefully, they will find all of them and bring them home.
$240 Worth of Pudding
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AG
God bless your old man and the rest of those heroes. They are not forgotten.
YZ250
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one safe place
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$240 Worth of Pudding said:

God bless your old man and the rest of those heroes. They are not forgotten.
Thanks.
one safe place
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YZ250 said:


The red shaded area furthest west (left side of the map) was called the pocket and was the last or next to last area secured. The Marines had advanced past it but had to go back and clear out some Japanese. Most of the Japanese on Tarawa were in bunkers or san-covered pillboxes and not on the surface like we were. Dad was in K/3/2 and they suffered something like 50% casualties. The resistance at the pocket was so intense the Marines veered left and right, many of them joining up with Major Ryan's L/3/2. Major Ryan had so many Marines that were not part of his company, they became known as "Ryan's orphans" while under his command.
JABQ04
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AG
True heroes all.
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