You may be aware that Peleliu was a bloody slugfest for the 1st Marine Division, ranking with Tarawa, Iwo Jima and Okinawa in ferocity but little known outside the normal history buffs' interest. Anyway, I wanted to walk the ground, so to speak, to learn more about the fight.
Upon reaching the island, which ain't easy--flight to Guam and Koror, followed by a boat to Peleliu--I hotfooted it to "The Point," which Kilo company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines captured after a horrific fight. Their objective was located on the extreme left flank of the regiment's landing beach. It was defended by several heavy machine gun and anti-boat guns in reinforced concrete pillboxes. At one point, the company was cut off and down to 90 men out of the original 250 men that landed. Personal accounts noted that the Japanese were able to fire all along the flank of the beach, which was concave. Another piece of ground on the right flank gave the Japanese a perfect crossfire, enabling them to knock out several amtracs,,,accounts mention up to 26 vehicles.
In any event, I wanted to walk the ground. Today, the island is covered with heavy jungle-like growth...thick stuff that's difficult to push through...vines, saw grass, low growing plants, as well as towering trees 60 feet high. The Point is also crawling with land crabs...ugly creatures that scuttle along the ground making a particularly tell-tale noise. The ground is uneven, covered with coral stone, which tears hell out boots...and could but the hell out of anyone that fell on it. Needless to say footing is treacherous.
I walked in from the water...low tide...and came across a pile of copper bullet point...the metal cartridges had rusted away. It was obvious that someone had dumped a box of .30 caliber in the water and it has remained there all these years. Just at the water's edge I spotted one of the concrete emplacements...although it was difficult. The Japanese had placed coral rock along its face, which made it blend in with the rest of the ground. It had not been hit by naval gunfire and had to be taken out by Kilo Company's infantrymen. I climbed inside through an opening in the rear and found the rusted remains of the boat gun still pointing toward the beach. Alongside the position was the remains of a coral trench, where Japanese infantry protected it from a flanking attack. Further along I found another identical emplacement, as well as the remnants of other fighting positions. Scattered about were expended .30 cartridges...U.S. M-1.
One of the highlights was a buddy brought along a Marine small Marine flag that he place on the beach in honor of his father, who had been killed during the assault...a very solemn occasion.
I will close for now, stay tuned for other accounts of what I did on my summer vacation. Semper Fi, Dick
About the AuthorColonel Richard D. Camp, USMC), “retired from the Marine Corps in 1988 after completing 26 years of service. During his career he served in a variety of command and staff assignments, including the Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., Instructor, The Basic School, CO, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, MCRD San Diego, CO, Recruiting Station, Milwaukee, WI, CO, 12th Marine Corps District, San Francisco, CA, and Aide de Camp, CG Marine Corps Education Center. He served one tour in Vietnam as CO, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 26th Marine Regiment. You can find out more about Colonel Camp and his books at: