Captain Dye's Blog
Friday, 25 January 2008
Week 28: Pounding on Peleliu as 5th MarDiv Forms for Iwo Ji
With plenty of fanatical Japanese defenders still holding out in the ridges and caves of Peleliu's central spine, PFC Eugene Sledge and his buddies in K-3-5 are stuck in a line of coral outcroppings watching air and artillery pound the high ground to their front. It's been going on for days now with batteries from the 11th Marines and Corsairs from the newly reclaimed airfield delivering tons of high explosive on the cliffs overlooking Death Valley. It just never seems to be enough or sufficiently effective. King Company continues to be pelted by plunging fire and depleted by casualties that must be hauled down through the ankle-breaking terrain by stretcher-bearers under Japanese mortar and small arms fire all the way back to the Battalion Aid Station. Attached Navy Hospital Corpsmen are doing superlative work in combat life-saving but there's never enough of them and they are always prime sniper bait, so Sledge and some of his fellow mortarmen have been pressed into service as litter-bearers. When the call comes, as it does with numbing regularity, they fight their way forward under intense incoming barrages to pick up a wounded buddy and haul him out of harm's way. Sometimes the wounded Marine makes it to the rear but too often he doesn't live through the trek toward medical help. That has taken a psychological toll on everyone. It's only about fifty bloody yards from their lines into the cliffs but it might be miles from the look in everyone's eyes when the order comes to advance. And those orders just keep coming, an inevitable reality that's causing frustration in the ranks and a gnawing fear that no one will leave bloody Peleliu alive. Meanwhile, back at Camp Pendleton Manila John Basilone has been promoted to Gunnery Sergeant and is busy helping to form the new 5th Marine Division for combat in the Pacific. He's finally volunteered his way out of the war bond drive business, tucked away his Medal Of Honor, and joined Baker Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Marines as the weapons platoon sergeant. He's got a lot of first-hand combat experience to share with boot Marines and a big organizational job to do in a hurry as the division has been alerted for imminent deployment. We continue the attack out here in the South Pacific but will be taking a breather next week to welcome a group of veterans from WW II campaigns in the Pacific theater who are coming to visit some old battlefields and check what we've been doing to tell their story. It's an honor to have these gentlemen sponsored by The Greatest Generation Foundation and we look forward to meeting some of the men we are portraying. Semper Fidelis.
Posted By Captain Dale A. Dye at 10:55 PM in Category:The Pacific War
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