U.S. Marines Land on Tarawa
20 November 1943
by Robert SherrodThe successful assault on the Japanese defenses on Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands
cost the U.S. Marines 3300 in killed and wounded.
"'Somebody go get the son-of-a-bitch,' yelled Major Crowe. 'He's right back of us here, just waiting for somebody to pass by.' That Jap sniper, we knew from the crack of his rifle, was very close."
U.S. Marine Raiders, men with the bloody reputation of being skillful jungle fighters, gather in front of a Jap dugout on Cape Totkina on Bougainville, Solomon Islands in 1944.
Another young Marine walked briskly along the beach. He grinned at a pal who was sitting next to me. Again there was a shot. The Marine spun all the way around and fell to the ground, dead. From where he lay, a few feet away, he looked up at us. Because he had been shot squarely through the temple his eyes bulged out wide, as in horrible surprise at what had happened to him, though it was impossible that he could ever have known what hit him.
'Somebody go get the son-of-a-bitch,' yelled Major Crowe. 'He's right back of us here, just waiting for somebody to pass by.' That Jap sniper, we knew from the crack of his rifle, was very close.
A Marine jumped over the sea wall and began throwing blocks of fused TNT into a coconut-log pillbox about fifteen feet back of the sea wall against which we sat. Two more Marines scaled the sea wall, one of them carrying a twin-cylindered tank strapped to his shoulders, the other holding the nozzle of the flame-thrower. As another charge of TNT boomed inside the pillbox, causing smoke and dust to billow out, a khaki-clad figure ran out of the side entrance. The flame-thrower, waiting for him, caught him in its withering stream of intense fire. As soon as it touched him, the Jap flared up like a piece of celluloid. He was dead instantly but the bullets in his cartridge belt exploded for a full sixty seconds after had been charred almost to nothingness.