Battle on Peleliu

This is in regard to the Sept. 19 commentary by Del Stelck about the island landing on Peleliu. I was on an LCI (M), a mortar boat, supporting Marines in occupying the island. For two weeks we dropped thousands of rounds of mortars on the island and then without notice, broke off all fighting and went to a rear base to refuel, and resupply our mortars and ammo. After we had made the Leyte landing, Marines were still fighting on Peleliu and most of us knew someone had made a mistake.

In the latter part of 1945, we removed hundreds of Japanese soldiers. These were very well-behaved troops and we found out soon after, the top of the line.

Mistakes happen. Only history points that out, years later. At the time it seemed like a worthwhile project.



La Crescenta

* The headline of Stelck’s article suggests that Americans died in vain. He writes that “Japanese troops were still fighting (there) years later.” He says that “in a decision still difficult to understand, Nimitz ordered the convoy of Marines to take Peleliu anyway. Awaiting them were elite Japanese troops that could have been bypassed.”

But according to “U.S. Army in World War II,” compiled by Mary H. Williams, on Nov. 27, 1944, “hostilities on Peleliu end. Approximately 13,600 Japanese have been killed on Angaur, Peleliu and small islands off Peleliu . . . 81st (Army) Division and attacked units have suffered . . . 542 killed. Reinforced 1st Marine Division casualties total about 1,250 killed. . . .” If this is true, then more than seven times as many “elite” Japanese troops were killed than American troops were killed.

I question whether these Americans were “slaughtered . . . for no good reason.” I hope that come Nov. 11 we will also thank and remember all of those who fought in the Palaus and are still living.