By Col. Joseph H. Alexander USMC-R
This booklet, one in a sequence dedicated to U.S. Marines on the earth warfare II period, is released for the schooling and coaching of Marines via the heritage and Museums department, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, Washington, D.C., as part of the U.S. division of safeguard observance of the fiftieth anniversary of victory in that war."
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Extra info for Across the Reef: The Marine Assault of Tarawa
Most progres s came from the combined efforts o f Lieutenant Colonel Chester J . Sala zar, commanding the shore party ; Captain John B . McGovern, USN , acting as primary control officer o n board the minesweeper Pursuit (AM 108) ; Major Ben K . Weatherwax, as sistant division D-4 ; and Major Ge orge L . H . Cooper, operations officer of 2d Battalion, 18th Marines . Among them, these officers gradual ly brought some order out of chaos . They assumed strict control of sup plies unloaded and used the surviv ing LVTs judiciously to keep the shuttle of casualties moving seawar d and critical items from the pierhea d to the beach .
Guided by the rafts , one of the LVTs made it ashore, bu t the second drifted into a mine whic h blew the heavy vehicle 10 feet int o the air, killing most of the crew and destroying the supplies . It was a seri ous loss, but not critical . Well co vered by Ryan's men, the landin g force suffered no other casualtie s coming ashore . Jones' battalion be came the first to land on Betio essentially intact . It was after dark by the time Jones' troops assumed defensive position s behind Ryan's lines .
The changing tide s had swept many bodies of the assaul t troops out to sea . The first pilot ashore reported seeing scores of float - Shortly before General Julia n Smith's announcement of victory a t Betio, his Army counterpart, Genera l Ralph Smith, signalled "Maki n ing corpses, miles away, over th e Smith over the conduct of this operation which would have unfortunat e consequences in a later amphibiou s horizon . The Japanese garrison was nearl y annihilated in the fighting . The Marines, supported by naval gunfire , carrier aviation, and Army Air Forc e units, killed 97 percent of the 4,83 6 troops estimated to be on Betio dur ing the assault .
Across the Reef: The Marine Assault of Tarawa by Col. Joseph H. Alexander USMC-R