Captain Dye's Blog
These are all the Blogs posted in March, 2008.
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Saturday, 29
Week 37: Rain, Misery and Mud on The Rock
King Company 3/5 has been plugged into the action around the imposing Japanese defenses of the Shuri Line in southern Okinawa. Just as most of the 1st MarDiv Marines expected, they were ordered south to relieve battered Army units of the 27th Infantry Division. Now they're facing the most formidable obstacles that General Ushijima could devise for his Thirty-Second Army to hold off the American push to conquer the Ryukyu Islands. The Marines are dug in along a section of the line facing the infamous Wana Draw with the 6th Marine Division on their right flank and what seems like every Japanese artillery battery in the world pounding them day and night. And to top it all off, the monsoons have hit bringing pelting rains that have turned the area into a stinking, muddy swamp. Morale is melting with the rain and with unfortunate incidents like the rounds from an abortive artillery fire support mission that landed short and right on King Company. No one knows for sure whether it was bad dope called in by a Forward Observer or a miscalculation back at the battery that fired for them as they went over into the assault on a nearby ridgeline, but the effect was devastating. Sledge and some of his fellow mortarmen had been drafted into the assault as back-up riflemen and they were right up front when the friendly arty landed on them. King Company's new commander, Capt. "Stumpy" Stanley, was forced to withdraw and call off the assault until the fire support situation could be rectified. Meanwhile, the Wana Draw and similar bastions along the Shuri Line still must be taken by straight-ahead infantry assaults, so Sledge and his buddies know what lies ahead for them as the battle for Okinawa continues. There's good news from the Home Front for some of our Marines. PFC Robert Leckie, formerly of H-2-1, has reached Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego. If the Docs give him the OK, he's due for some leave with his family back on the east coast. Meanwhile, we continue the attack in the Western Pacific. Semper Fidelis.
Posted By Captain Dale A. Dye at 12:04 AM / Category:The Pacific War
Sunday, 23
Week 36: Palaus Recede; Action in The Ryukyus
It was a close run thing for line Marines like PFC Eugene Sledge (K-3-5) and PFC Robert Leckie (H-2-1) but they survived Peleliu. Leckie was rocked by so many close arty and mortar rounds that he had to be evacuated before the battle ended. He's now on his way Stateside where we'll join him later. Sledge made it all the way through the eighty-day campaign on that bloody island that was supposed to be secured in a week. He went along on the shore-to-shore assault on Ngesebus just north of Peleliu in the final stages of the battle and lived to see the U.S. Army's 81st Infantry Division come in from Angaur Island to relieve battered Marine elements and put the finishing touches to that controversial campaign. Sledge and his surviving buddies would most definitely like to be heading home also, but that's not to be. Not while the Japanese hold Okinawa in the Ryukyu Islands chain just south of their mainland. With the war in Europe coming to an end, the Allied powers are bringing everything to bear on defeating the Japanese in the Pacific. Given Japanese tenacity, that likely means a costly invasion of the home islands and the launching point for that operation would be deep-water ports and major airfields of Okinawa so the island has to be taken. To get that formidable task accomplished, General S. B. Buckner has assembled the U.S. Tenth Army consisting of the XXIV Corps (7th, 27th, 77th and 96th Infantry Divisions) and the III Amphibious Corps (1st, 2nd and 6th Marine Divisions). It's the largest amphibious operation ever staged in World War II and everyone involved expects it to be a bloody, brutal fight against the well-entrenched Japanese Thirty-Second Army guarding a province of the home islands. It's already looking that way for the Army elements that have turned south after landing to push at the enemy's bristling Shuri defensive line. For the Marines in the north so far, it's been a relative cakewalk. They went in standing up and pushed rapidly inland against light resistance. The Marines have taken two major airfields to date including Yomitan and Kadena with light casualties. The Army, however, is stuck in the cloying Okinawan mud down south with the monsoons making conditions difficult for units on the offensive. Rumors are rife among the Marines that they'll soon be heading south to relieve some Army units on the Shuri Line. Everyone is looking in that direction and no one likes what they see. We continue the attack. Semper Fidelis.
Posted By Captain Dale A. Dye at 1:36 AM / Category:The Pacific War
Friday, 14
Week 35: Surviving the surviving on Peleliu
It's all uphill from where K-3-5 sits on Peleliu. The outfit made it across that treacherous airfield expanse and is dug in for reorganization in an old Japanese administration building at the base of the Umurbrogols. They've climbed, fought and bled in those hills in previous incarnations so the Palaus campaign is nearly at an end for them. Despite the most determined efforts of Japanese gunners, King Company's 60mm mortars only lost one man. PFC Bill Oswalt, first ammo-humper and reliable swingman in Snafu Shelton and Eugene Sledge's squad, died of multiple shrapnel wounds during the crossing. He'll be sorely missed when the outfit lands on Okinawa in the next scheduled operation. Sledge doesn't know how much of an enemy foul weather and mud can be as he was still in training when the outfit suffered through the Cape Gloucester operations on New Britain, but he's about to become intimately familiar with the concept. Planners have scheduled 1 April 1945 for the Ryukyus landings and May is when the monsoons begin in that region of the western Pacific. PFC Robert Leckie is out of the fight and aboard the hospital ship Hope steaming for unknown ports along with his buddy Runner from the H-2-1 Scout Section. They don't know it quite yet but they've seen the last of active combat in the Pacific. While the rest of the 1st Marine Division rests and re-trains for the Okinawa campaign, Leckie and Runner will wend their way through the evacuation pipeline and reach the States, alive and relatively whole after their ordeals on Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester and Peleliu. We'll spend a little time with them later and look in on how they are making the adjustment to civilian life. It won't be easy or very comfortable, but after what they've been through in the Pacific it's likely they'll survive that too. Semper Fidelis.
Posted By Captain Dale A. Dye at 10:44 PM / Category:The Pacific War
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