Friends of Padre Steve’s World
November is one of those weird months where I spend a lot of time reflecting on history, especially military history. Part of that I am sure is the number of important events and battles that occurred in November as well as the annual observation of Veteran’s Day (Armistice Day or Remembrance Day) and President Lincoln’s oratory of the Gettysburg Address. It certainly is not because I am a fan of war. I have been to war. I have seen its devastation and the long term damage that it does to those that fight as well as the nations and peoples involved. General Robert E. Lee said “It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it.” Thus when I write an new article about a battle or re-publish an older article it is with this in mind. This week marks the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Tarawa. Next week the Marine Corps will mark that day at the Camp LeJeuene Headquarters of the 2nd Marine Division as well as other locations. Some of the ever dwindling number of survivors of the battle will attend these somber observances. It was a brutal affair and quite costly in terms of lives lost for the conquest of a tiny atoll of only one square mile. However it was a location that had to be taken and not just bypassed. The sacrifices of the Marines and Sailors who fought on the island and the sacrifice of their Japanese opponents who fought almost to the last man cannot be minimized. The Marines lost over 1000 dead and 2100 wounded while the Navy lost the Escort Carrier Liscombe Bay with the loss of nearly 700 sailors. The Japanese lost over 4600 troops. As you read it remember that sacrifice and pray that we will never again have to fight such a battle.
On November 20th 2009 the Marine Corps and especially the 2nd Marine Division will mark the 66th anniversary of the amphibious assault on the Tarawa Atoll and the island of Betio. It was fought at a great cost but would yield lessons that would be invaluable in future amphibious operations. The veterans of the landing are fewer every day. Please take time to remember their sacrifice that they made and Marines continue to make in Afghanistan and Iraq. I have served with the 1st and 3rd Battalions, 8th Marine Regiment the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion and HQ Battalion 2nd Marine Division. I have had the honor to meet some of the surviving Tarawa Veterans so this is not only history for me, but a way to pay tribute to the Marines who served at Tarawa and all Marines since. Especially those Marines that I served with at…
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