Tarawa (3) Additional Information and Quotes

One of the cemeteries at Tarawa.

One of the cemeteries at Tarawa.

Japanese RAdmiral Keiji Shibasaki was commander of the 3rd Special Base Defense Force, the tokubetsu Konkyochitai, who was responsible for defending the Ocean, the Gilberts and the Nauru Islands.  During the US invasion, he gave his orders from a concrete bunker on Betio.  He should have stayed there.  He was killed when he moved his staff to a secondary headquarters.

In choppy seas and heavy winds, the LVTs (aka Amtraks) moved in.  Destroyers Ringgold and Dashiell followed the minesweepers Requiste and Pursuit who went into the shallow waters of the lagoon with Lt. Forbes Webster and Stanley Page (of the RNZ Navy), as their pilots.

When it was over.

When it was over.

Japanese Warrant Officer, Ota recalled, “We could see the American landing craft coming towards us like dozens of spiders over the surface of the water.  One of my men exclaimed, ‘The God of Death has come!'”  Every working weapon opened up.  Petty Officer Tadao Onuki said, “There we broke our silence.  Under roaring fires, enemy craft wrecked, American soldiers went down one after another, went falling into the sea.”

Wounded Marine sent for medical attention.

Wounded Marine sent for medical attention.

Seasickness became a problem aboard the ships where the men waited; 850 men of the LT 1/8 were in Higgins boats from the Sheridan. Lt. John Fletcher was being assisted by Lt. Eddie Albert who recalled, My job was to assist in controlling those 26 boats, plus support any boats needing repairs, refueling or rescue at sea.  My boat, number 13, was not a landing craft.  We had a 3-man crew, a coxswain, a gunner and myself… We felt terrible that so many were lost that second morning… I’ll never know how we lived through it.  I remember our crew stamping out small fires around the fuel drums.  But we kept firing back and pulling more wounded aboard… I don’t like to think about it.”

Kneeling in prayer before landing. From: "Tarawa - The Story of a Battle" by Robert Sherrod

Kneeling in prayer before landing.
From: “Tarawa – The Story of a Battle” by Robert Sherrod

Chaplain Wyeth Willard baptized 63 men on the LT 1/8.  He was one of 3 Navy chaplains, (F.W. Kelly & J.V.E. Loughlin), who went up and down the island wherever the men were fighting.

Many of the troops dropped due to heat prostration.  The sand was ”white as snow and as hot as red-white ashes,” said Sgt. Michelony of the 1/6.  Three steel pillboxes and a large “bomb-proof shelter remained at the pier.  After 2 hours of fighting – only the shelter remained operable and a tunnel was discovered.  Lt. Sandy Bonnyman, a combat engineer, received the Medal of Honor for his actions here.  He was one of 4 men who be issued the medal for this island.

Many combat photographers of Tarawa show one man with a red mustache, unlit cigar clenched in his teeth and a shotgun in his arms standing tall amid scores of troops against a seawall on Red Beach 3.  This was Major Henry  “Jim” Pierson Crowe, an officer worth learning more about.

Combat photographer in the midst of battle.

Combat photographer in the midst of battle.

These posts do not even barely cover the battles for Tarawa.  Ironically, or maybe even by design, the island is the exact size of the Pentagon and its parking lots.  This information was learned in “Utmost Savagery” by Col. Joseph H. Alexander, USMC (Ret.).  I chose this as a reference because the author cross-referenced new data with the old, personal papers and Japanese sources of the “Senshi Sosho”.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

Ole Sad Sack

Ole Sad Sack

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Farewell Salutes – 

Edwin Bisinger – Westchester, IL; US Army, WWII, 7th Division

Arthur Feinman – Englishtown, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 188th/11th Airborne

George Gould – Waikato, NZ; RNZ Army # 639114, J Force945925_391409037634955_1621483807_n

Lester Kluting – Peacock, TX; US Army, WWII, ETO

Herbert Maier – MA & FL; US Army, Korea

Cecil Runner – Parsons, WVA; US Navy, WWII, USS Bataan, mechanic

Eulis Pemberton – Claredon, AR; US Army Air Corps, WWII/USAF (Ret. 28 Yrs), Korea & Vietnam

Russell Steiner – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, Vietnam

Cyrus Thatcher – UK; British Military, Afghanistan, The 2nd Rifles, KIA

Tony Valencia – Wilmington, CA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Bronze Star

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on March 9, 2016, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 53 Comments.

  1. War photographers did an excellent job on reporting the various engagements and battles, whilst under fire, I wonder if any were awarded medal for conspicuous bravery, or similar.
    Good to see the images coming to life through your narrative, great post gp.

    Like

  2. Brave photographer. Thank you for all your wonderful posts!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I once spent a day with Eddie Albert, driving him around Sacramento for media engagements in the early 70s. I liked him immediately, warm, funny and human. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Can you imagine be a combat photographer? Intense.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This was a tough battle to tackle. Nice to see a little perspective from both sides here.

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  6. Wat een verschrikking en zoveel doden.

    Like

  7. A time for religious conversions

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Those landings must have been horrific. Whether D day or on the Pacific Islands, to have to fight in those conditions must have been incredible. They all deserve a medal of honour.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for the extra information. I too was wondering if it was the same Eddie Albert and see that it was answered above. Never knew that/

    Liked by 1 person

  10. When enemies become allies one wonders what on earth we do it for.

    Liked by 1 person

    • All this to eliminate the few in power that wanted to take everyone’s freedom away from them. And – remember – no matter what the question – the answer is always money and power.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. This has been such an interesting series – thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Always informative, but also sad to see what so many young people suffered through,for our freedom. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • So much is never taught in our school systems, I do hope the generations coming up will visit web sites such as this to learn their history and know why they have the freedoms that they do.

      Like

  13. The number of casualties – physical and mental – cannot be quantified. Even if one survived, they were likely haunted for the rest of their lives. The horror of being there…

    Eddie Albert is like all the rest. Flesh and bone with a soul that was scarred for life. As he said and just like Old Man Jack, he didn’t want to talk – or think – of it.

    If I were one of them, I would be crying realizing we aren’t even mentioned in our history books of today.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Heartbreaking …

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  15. Thanks. One of my high-school class mates Corporal Ray Bordleon, USMC, posthumously earned the medal of honor for his outstanding bravery on Tarawa. Though seriously wounded and partially blinded he guided Marine tanks to firing positions. He was eighteen-years old. A Navy destroyer was named after him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Some mighty fine people came out of you high school I see. I wanted to add the other men’s accomplishments, but as you know – there was way too much action here in 3 days!!
      Thank you for coming by today and taking the time to read.

      Like

  16. Thanks for the extra info, GP. Was that Eddie Albert the same man who was an actor, I wonder? (I just looked him up, and he was at Tarawa, so I answered my own question!)
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

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