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The Battle of Peleliu

The fall of Japan’s first line of defense in New Guinea, the Marshalls and the Marianas allowed the Allies to move on to strongholds in Japan’s second defensive line. The Palau Islands were stepping stones in Army General Douglas MacArthur’s plan to invade the Philippines. While it is still debated whether the capture of the Palaus was necessary to protect Gen MacArthur’s flank, the battle of Peleliu was one of the toughest to be fought during the entire Pacific war.

The Commanders

On 10 May 1944, the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet/Pacific Ocean Areas, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, issued the first planning orders for the assault on the Palau Islands of Peleliu and Angaur. Peleliu would be the primary target of the operation, which was code-named Stalemate II. The U.S. commanders of the campaign were assigned as follows:

–Vice Admiral Theodore S. Wilkinson, USN, commanded the Third Amphibious Force.

–Major General Roy S. Geiger, USMC, commanded the III Amphibious Corps, comprised of ground troops from the 1st Marine Division (Peleliu) and the Army’s 81st Infantry Division (Angaur).

–Major General William H. Rupertus, USMC, commanded the 1st Marine Division. Under his command were 1st Marines commander Col Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller, 5th Marines commander Col Harold D. Harris, 7th Marines commander Col Herman H. Hanneken and 11th Marines commander Col William H. Harrison.

–Major General Paul J. Mueller, USA, commanded the 81st Infantry Division.

D-Day

D-Day on Peleliu was set for 15 September 1944. On that day, the 1st Marine Division planned to land on the western beaches of Peleliu three regiments abreast. The 1st Marines were to assault the beaches on the left, which were designated White 1 and White 2, and push through the enemy toward the northwestern peninsula of the island. In the center, the 5th Marines were to land on Orange Beaches 1 and 2 and drive across to the island’s eastern shore. They would be responsible for securing the island’s airfield before moving to seize the northeastern part of the island.

The 7th Marines on the right were to assault Orange Beach 3 and move to take the southern tip of the island.

The U.S. Navy demonstrated the value of sea power by blocking the Japanese access to sea lanes that would have enabled them to reinforce and resupply their men on Peleliu.

Three days of naval gunfire preceded the Marines’ landing, but it proved inadequate against the type of Japanese defenses created on the island. The Japanese took advantage of the rugged, ridged terrain around Umurbrogol Mountain (unreported by American reconnaissance units) to construct a series of interlocking underground shelters and well-concealed concrete bunkers. As U.S. troops came ashore, they faced enfilading fire from these bunkers and from the high ground above the beaches.

The enemy fought tenaciously to prevent the Marines from securing a beachhead. The first night ashore was grueling; small infiltration parties hit the Marine lines repeatedly. The cruiser Honolulu and three destroyers provided star shell illumination to help the Marines turn the infiltrators back, but the rest of the fleet withdrew to avoid enemy submarines. The Marines fought throughout the night, well dug in their foxholes. Water was in short supply as there were no natural sources the Marines could tap. According to one observer, by the morning 16th September, the Marines were “mean and thirsty.” That day, the 5th and 7th Marines advanced relentlessly; the 1st Marines more slowly, encountering fierce resistance from the northern ridges they were assigned to take.

Temperatures on Peleliu rose as high as 115 degrees, and drinking water was scarce during the initial combat. Marines on the front lines were parched, pleading for water. Hearing this, the crews of some of the ships offshore, to the surprise and delight of many Marines, sent cases of fruit and tomato juices ashore for the front line troops.

Brigadier General Oliver P. Smith, assistant 1st Marine Division commander, said of the first week of fighting, “Seven days after the landing, all of the southern end of Peleliu was in our possession, as well as the high ground immediately dominating the airfield. All the beaches that were ever used were in use. There was room for the proper deployment of all the artillery, including the Corps’ artillery. Unloading was unhampered except by the weather and hydrographic conditions. The airfield was available and essential base development work was underway.”

The battle for Peleliu provided an opportunity for Marines to practice and perfect their skills in close air support. Marine aviators demonstrated ingenuity and courage, but their efforts would have little effect on the underground fortresses built by the Japanese. Following the fighting, one report estimated the existence of more than 500 caves. Long-range flame throwers mounted on amphibian tractors, employed for the first time on Peleliu, proved to be the most effective weapon against these well-fortified caves.

In later phases of the operation, the seizure of Umurbrogol Mountain and the northern area of Peleliu were among the most difficult assignments faced by the Marines. This move was tactically important as a means to bypass and isolate enemy pockets of resistance. The northern ground was also to be used as a platform to attack the neighboring small island of Ngesebus. Ngesebus, connected to Peleliu by causeway, was an objective because of its unfinished fighter air strip.

The seizure of Umurbrogol Mountain took five regiments close to two months of battle to accomplish. Indeed, the 1st Marines suffered so many casualties as it fought to achieve its objectives that the Army’s 81st Infantry Division, known as the “Wildcats,” was called in to relieve them. The Wildcats’ initial mission to seize Angaur had been accomplished on 21 October when the division overran Angaur’s remaining resistance and the island was declared secure.

The Wildcats then began the tough job of relieving the 1st Marines and isolating the enemy pockets of resistance on Umurbrogol Mountain. Over the next weeks, the Wildcats would advance slowly around the Umurbrogol pocket, gradually eliminating all enemy resistance. Unlike earlier battles, the Japanese defenders did not attempt banzai (suicide) charges but continued to fight to the bitter end, hoping to inflict the greatest amount of damage to the American forces.

On 27 September, MajGen Geiger declared the island secure and ordered the American flag to be raised over the battlefield. Operation Stalemate II had become the Pacific’s largest amphibious operation thus far, involving more than 800 vessels and 1,600 aircraft.

Campaign Results

Throughout the battle, U.S. naval forces had prevented the Japanese from reinforcing their troops on Peleliu, which assisted U.S. ground troops to gain a victory over the well-entrenched enemy force. Victory on Peleliu denied the Japanese a staging area for attacks on the U.S. fleet in the South Pacific and denied them as well the ability to communicate with their forces in the Philippines. The cost of taking the island, however, was high. On Peleliu, Marine casualties were 1,336 killed and 5,450 wounded while the 81st Infantry Division suffered 1,393 casualties including 208 killed in action. On Angaur, the 81st Infantry Division had 1,676 casualties, including 196 killed in action. The Japanese lost an estimated 10,695 men, with an additional 301 taken as prisoners of war.

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Marine Corps Moto Posters

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Marine Corps History: Special Trust and Confidence

Special Trust and Confidence
Marine Corps Manual
Major General John A Lejeune, USMC
Commandant of the Marine Corps
1920


The special trust and confidence which is expressly reposed in each officer by his commission is the distinguishing privilege of the officer corps. It is the policy of the Marine Corps that this privilege be tangible and real; it is the corresponding obligation of the officer corps that it be wholly deserved.

Commanders will ensure that local policies, directives, and procedures reflect the special trust and confidence reposed in each member of the officer corps. Full credit will be given to his statements and certificates, he will be allowed maximum discretion in the exercise of authority vested in him, and he and his dependents will be accorded all prerogatives and perquisites which are traditional and otherwise appropriate. Except where the security of classified material and installations impose more stringent demands, an officer’s uniform will amply attest his status as an officer, and his oral statement will serve to identify him and his dependents.

As a concomitant, commanders will impress upon all subordinate officers the fact that the presumption of integrity, good manners, sound judgment, and discretion, which is the basis for the special trust and confidence reposed in each officer, is jeopardized by the slightest transgression on the part of any member of the officer corps. Any offense, however minor, will be dealt with promptly, and with sufficient severity to impress on the officer at fault, and on his fellow officers, the effects of the offense on the stature and reputation of the officer corps. It is an obligation to the officer corps as a whole, and transcends the bonds of personal friendship.

As a further and continuing action, commanders are enjoined to bring to the attention of higher authority, referencing this paragraph, any situation, policy, directive, or procedure which contravenes the spirit of this paragraph, and which is not susceptible to local correction.

Although this policy is expressly concerned with commissioned officers, its provisions and spirit will, where applicable, be extended to noncommissioned officers, especially staff noncommissioned officers.

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Marine Corps Photos: Marines Move Across Peleliu, 1944

Marine Corps Moto Photo 63

Rugged Terrain

Picking their way through the rocky terrain on Peleliu, a column of Marines moves up to the front lines. This is the type of terrain on which the Leathernecks battled the remnants of the Japanese forces on the island.

Photo is property of Marine Corps Archives & Special Collections.

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The Battle Of Iwo Jima

The battle for control of the island of Iwo Jima began on Feb. 19th, 1945.

Iwo Jima had tactical importance because of two Japanese airfields located on the island.

On the first day of the battle, roughly 2,500 Marines were killed.

There were over 26,000 Marine casualties resulting from the battle, and more than 5,900 Marines lost their lives.

There were more Congressional Medals of Honor bestowed at the Battle of Iwo Jima than any other battle in American history.
A total of 27 CMOH’s were awarded, 13 posthumously.
22 of these were ome by Marines.

This is a colorized version of a film clip of the actual flag raising on Mt. Suribachi:

The flag was raised, not at the end of the battle, as many believe, but on either the 3rd or 4th day (accounts and reports differ) of a battle that lasted 36 days.

Os the six men who raised the American flag on Mount Suribachi, only three left the island alive.

Joe Rosenthal of the Associated Press won a Pulitzer Prize for his photograph of the
flag-raising.

One of the things we made sure of when we went to see our daughter graduate from Marine Corps Boot Camp was to get a picture of her in front of the Iwo Jima memorial at Parris Island.

Parris Island Pictures   Iwo Jima Memorial

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Marine Corps News From World War Two: Air Victories Told By Knox

WASHINGTON

With 600 Jap aircraft downed since last November to a loss of only 42 U.S. planes, American airmen continue to destroy enemy planes at a ratio of more than 13 to 1, Secy, of Navy Frank Knox announced in a press conference this week.
More than 1150 Jap transports and invasion barges have been sunk since the beginning of the war, Knox said. Attacks by the Japs on American positions at Empress Augusta Bay, Bougainville, are a last desperate drive to push Yanks off the island, he said.


From the 25March1944 issue of the Marine Corps Chevron

Public Domain

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Noble Is Our Cause

The boys are gone
As we all know
To fight a war
For some Joe
We have never seen
Nor heard
Who speaks to us
In foreign words
And swears to god
To kill us all
lest we defile the planet.

We do not understand them
Nor do they we,
Our worlds are oh
So far apart.
We know they have
Murderous hearts,
They seek to make
The world their own
Sans freedoms
As are known
By nations free
As are we.

To change a mind
Is more than challenge
Yet undaunted all are we
Who hold the
Banner of freedom
From sea to shining sea.
We pray they
Will take our offer
Of sweet, sweet liberty
For it is the greatest gift
From you and you and me.

Robert L Cook

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US Marines Clearing Vietcong in Vietnam War

All clearing or search and destroy operations labeled as “County Fair” appear to have taken place in Quang Nam province of Viet Nam.

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Marine Corps Recruiting Poster

Marine Corps Recruiting Posters 22

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Dunford Becomes 36th Commandant Of The Marine Corps

WASHINGTON — WASHINGTON, D.C. — Gen. James F. Amos, the 35th Commandant of the Marine Corps, relinquished command of the Marine Corps to Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., Oct. 17 at Marine Barracks Washington, D.C.

The ceremony started with musical performances from “The Commandant’s Own,” The United States Marine Drum & Bugle Corps and “The President’s Own,” United States Marine Band. The ceremonial companies of the Barracks marched onto the parade deck and fixed their bayonets.

Amos and Dunford were then called to their positions on the parade deck. The battle colors were passed from Amos to Dunford signifying the passing of command and responsibility.

“My focus in the coming years will be to take care of our Marines and their families, and to ensure our Corps remains an expeditionary force of readiness our nation has come to expect,” said Dunford.

Dunford received his commission as an infantry officer in 1977, a career leading to billets such as company and regimental commander, senior aide to the commandant and assistant commandant of the Marine Corps.

“I got to know Joe Dunford quite well the last 20 months,” Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said. “I have come to rely on his wise judgment—The President of the United States trusts his judgment.”

Amos is retiring after 44 years of service across two branches. Starting as a naval aviator, he crossed the flight deck to fly for the Marines. He served as the II Marine Expeditionary Force commanding general, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps and served as the 35th Commandant of the Marine Corps for four years.

“(Amos’) lasting legacy will be the Marine Corps new traditions firmly rooted, leaving behind a Corps that is stronger than ever before,” said Hagel.

Some of the attendants of the event included the Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, previous commandants and military leaders from all U.S. military branches and allied nations.

“This morning I’m not as proud to be the commandant as I am simply to wear the cloth of a Untied States Marine,” Dunford said. “I can say all of this, in large part, is due to the leadership of our 35th commandant.”

 Gen. James F. Amos, the 35th Commandant of the Marine Corps, passes the colors to Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., during the change of command and subsequent retirement ceremony Oct. 17, 2014 at Marine Barracks Washington, D.C. After more than 44 years of military service, Amos passed the duties as senior-ranking officer of the Marine Corps to Dunford, who has now become the 36th Commandant of the Marine Corps.

Gen. James F. Amos, the 35th Commandant of the Marine Corps, passes the colors to Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., during the change of command and subsequent retirement ceremony Oct. 17, 2014 at Marine Barracks Washington, D.C. After more than 44 years of military service, Amos passed the duties as senior-ranking officer of the Marine Corps to Dunford, who has now become the 36th Commandant of the Marine Corps.

By Cpl. Dylan Bowyer, Defense Media Activity

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Traditions Of The United States Marine Corps

Marines take the right of the line or head of the column when in formation with elements of the other sea services (i.e., the Navy and the Coast Guard, not to mention NOAA).

All Marine posts have a bell, usually from a decommissioned ship of the Navy.

In the US Navy, when “Abandon Ship” is ordered, the last person to leave the vessel before the captain is his Marines orderly.

On a warship Marines do not man the rail.

Whatever the regulations say, Marines do not use umbrellas.

The Marine Hymn is the oldest official anthem of any U.S. military service.

The crowns of Marine officer’s service caps are decorated with an embroidered quatre foil, a heritage of the days when such designs helped Marines in the rigging identify their officers on deck below.

Since 1850 Marine sergeants have been the only NCOs in the U.S. Armed Forces to have the privilege of carrying swords on ceremonial occasions, a weapon of a pattern that makes it the second oldest weapon.

Officers and NCOs of the Marine Corps wear scarlet piping on their trousers, said to honor the blood shed by the Marines who stormed Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City on 13 September 1847, and traditionally called the “Blood Stripe”.

The Marines always stand at attention during the playing of the Marine Hymn.

The Marine Corps March, “Semper Fidelis” by J.P. Sousa, is the only march authorized by Congress for a particular service.

The “Mameluke” Sword, first adopted in 1826, is the weapon with the longest continual service in the U.S. Armed Forces.

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PGR Mission Alert: Richard J Anthony, USA, Korean War Vet

Richard J Anthony
Korean War Army Veteran
18, 19 & 20 OCT 2014
Erie / McKean, PA

The family of Korean War Army Veteran Richard J Anthony has requested the Patriot Guard Riders stand to honor his service to our nation at his viewings and funeral service October 18, 19 and 20. Richard was a corporal in the Army Corps of Engineers during the Korean War. Richard Anthony is a patriot who served our country with honor and now it’s our turn to stand and honor him.

VIEWINGS: Saturday 18 OCT 14, 1900 – 2100 HRS

Sunday, 19 OCT 14, 1400 – 1700, and 1900 – 2100 HRS

Brugger Funeral Home

845 East 38th Street

Erie, PA 16504

Staging: Saturday: 1800 HRS

Sunday: 1300 & 1800 HRS

At the Funeral Home parking lot on the south end of the parking lot off of Rt. 8

Please bring 3 x 5 flags

FUNERAL SERVICE, Monday 20 OCT 14, 1000 HRS

St. Francis Xavier Church

8880 Main Street

McKean, PA 16426

Staging: 0900 HRS at the church

Watch the weather; cages are welcome. If you can make any part of this mission, even for an hour, it would be appreciated.

RCIC: Richard Thomas, SRC, Region 1

PGR

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