The end is near...

Monday, March 27th...We left Guam at 11:45 PM (Ugh) for a two hour flight to Koror (Palau) for our next destination which was the island of Peleliu.

To best understand what you are going to read and see in this next lengthy episode, you would be well prepared if you saw the HBO series The Pacific and/or read the book With the Old Breed by Eugene Sledge. 

Peleliu is approximately six miles long and two miles wide. Its current population is around 500; however, in 1944, that population swelled to over 40,000 between US Marine and Army units and the Japanese army. The casualties were staggering with the US sustaining over 8,000 and the Japanese having over 10,000 killed. When you see the playing field, you'll understand better. One important factor to remember when you look at the photos that I will include is the landscape. Back then it was barren due to continuous bombings by the US. Nearly 80 years later, the landscape is overgrown with lush jungle vegetation.


The second and last factoid I shall share is that this operation took 73 days to complete and is quite controversial. Please do your own research.

The two days we spent on Peleliu were packed with tracing the footsteps of this bloody campaign complete with many stops such as walking the invasion beaches, hikes, climbs over very rough terrain, steep hills and exploring caves, just to name a few. This is not a trip for the faint of heart and tested my endurance many times. On many occasions, I had to just imagine what it would have been like for a young Marine or Army soldier in this God forsaken place.


  Day One ... Each day started and ended with a one hour fast boat ride to Peleliu and back to Koror through "The Rocks". We made many stops along the way to observe Japanese caves and gun emplacements. 

Once on the island our very capable local guide, Dez, led the way. We explored the beaches with multiple gun emplacements, pill boxes and virtually impenetrable access to gaining ground. 

After a thorough investigation of the beaches, we were off to the site of the incredible battle to cross the airfield. This is extremely well depicted in the HBO series. The airfield was 5,500 feet long but is currently being expanded by the US Marines to 8,000 feet. 

We saw so much, it's hard to explain. Check out the wreck of the Japanese light tank...

and the multiple photos of the Japanese air ministry building.

We hiked up a steep hill to see a knocked-out Sherman tank with an interesting but tragic story. 

This isn't the end of Peleliu....Stay tuned for Day 2!