Archive for February 1st, 2011

The weather outside is frightful for us this evening.  It’s been a year since we’ve had a winter storm as nasty as this one, and here in the middle of Iowa, we’ve got it way better than many.  It’s a quickie tonight…

We’ve haven’t talked about Peleliu for some time, though we’ve visited it several times in the past.  As regulars know, history has viewed this engagement through the lens of controversy.  But more than that, this battle is seen as, pound-for-pound, the bloodiest and most vicious encounter of the war.  For many of the Marines who landed and launched the fight, and for the Army soldiers who followed up and mopped up, it was indescribably horrific.  I’ve quoted Marine PFC Arthur Jackson before, but it’s worthy of a reprise.  He said, “…only a Marine who was on the scene at Peleliu can understand what took place during that period of time.  It was a nightmare…

The island was declared “secure” as October ended, but that wasn’t even close to accurate.  The U.S. Navy made that call (and this is strictly my opinion, though others may share it) largely for two reasons.  One, General MacArthur’s coming ashore in the Philippines needed to the be the headline-du-jour.  Two, military leadership wanted to shield the public from the truth of just how terrible the fight was on Peleliu.  Marine General William Rupertus had predicted a 3-day battle, but no one could have guessed just how wrong that estimate would be.

It wasn’t until late November that fighting, and dying,  on this 13-square mile chunk of coral ended.  And even after that there was sporadic gunplay as Japanese soldiers, in ones and twos, picked their moment to die.  Handfuls of Japanese soldiers surrendered, but they were few and far between.  On February 1, 1945, more than two months later, five Japanese soldiers did the unthinkable (at least as far as their training was concerned) by dropping their weapons and raising their hands.  They were five of just a couple hundred that did so, and some of the very last.

But they would not be the last, and at some point, we’ll make mention of it.

Recommended Reading: Brotherhood of Heroes

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