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#3400437 - 09/29/11 07:58 PM Peleliu (Pt 4)
BBall Offline
Member

Registered: 11/12/99
Posts: 203
Loc: Dresser, WI, USA
Last installment (thanks for hanging with me this long)...

==========



After leaving Bloody Nose Ridge, we drove to a trail that was as moving as it was disturbing. As you can see by the sign, this part of the jungle has only been cleared ON THE PATH THAT'S MARKED. The guide told us that of the 600 or so residents of Peleliu, every few months someone is injured from ordnance still on the island.

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You can clearly see the markers for the path. White means "you probably won't lose a foot", red means "good luck...we're all counting on you!"

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Occasionally you would see colored sticks off of the trail. The guide said that the colored sticks are where live ordnance has been detected but not dug up...we came over a rise and saw this.

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Many times along the trail, you would see something like this. This is a magazine from a BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle....my Dad carried one in Korea) with the rounds still in the mag! At one point, one of my companions looked down by my feet (we were squarely ON the trail) and said, "Bill, what's that?" I reached down and picked up an unknown object and began to clean the mud off of it. She asked, "Is it part of a Jeep or something?" I said "no...hang on...", then it hit me like ton of bricks. I was holding the top part of a "pineapple" hand grenade (where the spoon and pin are attached)! It was merely the top (with some sort of object protruding down from it....the detonator?), but I got rid of it post haste!

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The top to a pick axe.

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The remains of a canteen cup and a helmet.

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The F/O reached down and found this on the trail. It looks to me like a bayonet scabbard. We laid it on a rock and kept walking...

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The remains of a helmet, some motor rounds (60mm it looks to me), and a canteen cup. These were placed just off of the trail, and I'm guessing it was done by the locales.

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At the end of the trail, we came upon this Japanese gun emplacement (20mm?). It was a "interesting" walk through the jungle....alternately harrowing and fascinating all at the same time.

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Riding back to Babelthuap Island with us was this gentleman. Tsuchida Kitokaze...one of the VERY few Japanese POWs from the battle. He's 94 years young, and when I shook his hand, the first thing he did was whip off his USMC cap and show it to me. It was signed by many Marines (most of which he's outlived I would guess), and he seemed genuinely very proud of it. I bowed to him as a sign of respect and asked the young lady to ask him if he would allow me to take his picture. He obviously consented. He was there as it was the 67th anniversary of the invasion (there was no fan-fare at all that I could see), and he seemed to have a general sense of profound sadness to him....

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No words are necessary.

==========

And finally...


As we rode north on the boat in the on-again, off-again rain, I tried to reflect on what I had just done. It was almost overwhelming, and would take more than a few days to sink in.

I found myself tired in a way that I had not been in a very long time...and I snapped this pic hoping the sun peeking through the clouds would somehow help it all make sense...







It failed.

==========



Thanks for sharing this journey with me.


Have a great day,

BBall


Edited by BBall (09/29/11 08:02 PM)

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#3400451 - 09/29/11 08:24 PM Re: Peleliu (Pt 4) [Re: BBall]
Jaz Offline
Member

Registered: 01/05/07
Posts: 652
Loc: Dordrecht, the Netherlands
Very impressive. Peleliu is a bit of a forgotten battle of WWII, despite the cost in lives. I had never heard of it until I saw The Pacific. I never imagined there would be so much left on the surface.

Thanks for sharing.

Jaz
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#3400575 - 09/30/11 12:55 AM Re: Peleliu (Pt 4) [Re: BBall]
wheelsup_cavu Offline
Lifer

Registered: 12/03/08
Posts: 21612
Loc: Corona, California
Amazing pictures BBall. Thanks for sharing them.


Wheels
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#3400577 - 09/30/11 01:11 AM Re: Peleliu (Pt 4) [Re: BBall]
AWL_Spinner Offline
Member

Registered: 05/05/05
Posts: 609
Loc: Vancouver, Canada
Thanks so much for posting these, a great read and very interesting photographs.

I've just finished reading "With the Old Breed".

Cheers, Spinner
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#3400668 - 09/30/11 06:44 AM Re: Peleliu (Pt 4) [Re: BBall]
LukeFF Offline
Lab Rat
Veteran

Registered: 06/11/01
Posts: 10572
Loc: Riverside, California
Great set of pics. Thanks for sharing them with us.

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#3400674 - 09/30/11 07:08 AM Re: Peleliu (Pt 4) [Re: BBall]
EAF331 MadDog Online   tunes
XBL: LanceHawkins
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Registered: 12/07/99
Posts: 5581
Loc: Oslo, Norway
Great pictures and story.

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#3400758 - 09/30/11 10:08 AM Re: Peleliu (Pt 4) [Re: BBall]
BBall Offline
Member

Registered: 11/12/99
Posts: 203
Loc: Dresser, WI, USA
Thanks guys for the kind words.

AFA Wheel's comment about all the paraphernalia still littering these battlefields, let me just say that this is the only place I've seen this. Again, I've toured Saipan high and low, and it's all been sterilized in terms of that. The only other place I've seen with warning signs was on Tinian. As I rode my scooter up the eastern road headed toward the old "North Field" B-29 base (btw, I once read that in the summer of 1945, the airbase on Tinian was the BUSIEST AIRPORT IN THE WORLD!....amazing), I noticed a chain link fence walling off the beach. It read "Warning Unexploded Ordnance...Do Not Cross".

Side note. When I was a 10 year old "Army brat", living in Munich in 1966, I remember a wooded area behind our housing complex. There were large fences around these woods and we were told to stay out of them due to the fact that they had not been totally cleared since the war. This, of course, was the same as challenging my brother and myself to jump said fence and go exploring. We did, and I remember finding some broken dinner china (in a ruined farmhouse) that had the Nazi eagle and swastika stamped on the bottom. That's all we found, but we didn't make many sorties over that fence.

Again, thanks for the kind words. After (re)reading "Helmet For My Pillow", and "With The Old Breed" (both incredible), and watching the HBO series "The Pacific", this opportunity was not to be missed. Also knowing that history paints this battle with a controversial brush (Halsey said to by-pass the island and let it "die on the vine", but MacArthur and Nimitz wanted it taken to protect the right flank of the Philippine invasion force), meant that this "island of death" was probably even more of a waste of young lives than normal in war time. Almost 30,000 casualties. Young men whose lives either ended here, or were forever changed by those days...

Hallowed ground to be sure.

Thanks again for coming with me.

BBall


Edited by BBall (09/30/11 10:12 AM)

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#3400844 - 09/30/11 12:38 PM Re: Peleliu (Pt 4) [Re: BBall]
2Lt_Joch Offline
Member

Registered: 07/13/01
Posts: 419
Loc: Montreal, Canada.
amazing photos, thanks for sharing.
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#3400867 - 09/30/11 01:20 PM Re: Peleliu (Pt 4) [Re: BBall]
JAMF Offline
Frugalite & P-38 fan
Senior Member

Registered: 05/29/10
Posts: 3809
Loc: The Netherlands
Thank you, BBall, for taking us on that interesting tour.

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#3400908 - 09/30/11 02:13 PM Re: Peleliu (Pt 4) [Re: BBall]
U-96 Offline
Data? Rewind tape...
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Registered: 05/15/00
Posts: 8034
Loc: Cambridge, United Kingdom
great series BBall, thanks for taking the time to post it all.

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