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Al Guerrero
Re: The tipping point
Thu Dec 22, 2011 22:46

This is the question that history always wants answered.

I believe at TARAWA it was the AMPHIBIOUS TRACTOR, better known as the LVT.
Without the LVTs, the first three waves would not have made it over the reef, a beachhead would not have been established and large amounts of supplies, especially ammo, would not have gotten to the Marines on the beach.

The Japanese believed the reef would have stopped all landing boats, and it did. Without the LVTs the first three waves of Marines would have been devastated on the reef, follow-up waves in landing craft were. The momentum of the assault would have completely stopped, which it almost did except for the repeated runs into the beaches by the LVTs and thier crews.

Even though the momentum of the assault came to a crawl, the LVTs continued to bring in Marines and supplies to the beaches. They saved many Marines by taking the wounded out to the waiting landing boats just off the reef.

Out of 73 LVT-1's committed to the battle (2 LVT-1's were never unloaded) 56 of them were destroyed.

There were 50 LVT-2's committed- 34 were destroyed.

That makes 90 LVTs out of the 125 destroyed. Many of these LVTs operated after the initial landings before being destroyed by enemy gunfire, sank in the lagoon, mechanical failure or beach mines.

The fighting spirit of the individual marine won the battle, but it took the LVT to get them close enough to the fight.

That's my two cents, I am a little bias.

Happy Holidays!!

  • The tipping pointED. Bale, Thu Dec 22 12:46
    To All who participate in this forum: In furthurance of a discussion Ed. Gilbert and I had recently while riding down a Houston freeway, I would like to invite each of you to give consideration to... more
    • Re: The tipping pointjack whipple, Mon Dec 26 16:24
      Hi all, good question and one my dad answered to me as a kid, teen and young adult. He was a Lt. in I/3/6 and caught the last couple of days in the epic point blank gunfight, also a close friend of... more
      • Your father and Homer AikenEd, Bale, Tue Dec 27 10:39
        Was your father Warren Whipple? There have been several Homer Aiken in USMC. Is this the one that was in my tank company on Tarawa? Ed. Bale
        • Re: Your father and Homer Aikenjack whipple, Tue Dec 27 10:49
          He was in the China Gal, my dad's name is kind of odd, Burb. He and Homer had a battlefield reunion on Tarawa which made the papers of the day as a human interest deal, I've got a couple of pretty... more
          • Re: Your father and Homer AikenEd, Bale, Tue Dec 27 11:00
            I remember your father but did not really know him. I had a number of friends in 1/6; all are now deceased. Did not know of Homer's relationship ith your father. Homer, "Pappy", was a great Marine... more
            • Re: Your father and Homer Aikenjack whipple, Tue Dec 27 11:31
              He was pretty much estranged from his family. A hard price, but part of the bargain I suppose when you are a career Marine. The nurse that he was close to at the hospice said a niece would visit... more
              • Pappy Aiken and your fatherED. Bale, Wed Dec 28 09:56
                Would love to have any and all you can release on both. E mail to Snail mail to 1321 Park Bayou Dr C219, Houston, Texas 77077-1597. The son contacted me when Pappy was having so ... more
                • Re: Pappy Aiken and your fatherjack whipple, Wed Dec 28 12:47
                  Col Bale, after I thought of it for awhile my gut feeling is that it might be more appropriate given your professional relationship with Homer to contact you personally, although the folks who visit... more
    • Re: The tipping pointJohn Rowland , Sun Dec 25 15:00
      Many good reasons given for the Marine tipping point at Tarawa all valid. I would attribute their success due to their ability to engage in small unit action uncomplicated like the Army losing attack ... more
      When we blew them out of their concrete bunkers and ground holes,they were completely disorganized. Never a Banzai attack like in Saipan. I thank the air spotters, our navy gunfire,courageous flame... more
    • Tipping PointDurk Steed, Sat Dec 24 10:54
      Col Bale, Thanks for starting this discussion. Merry Christmas to all! Tipping point? the assigning of the Second Marine Division and its attached outfits to carry out the assault on Betio. What... more
    • The Tipping Pointmark noah, Fri Dec 23 19:37
      Great Question Col Bale, I think that there is no question that without the LVT and your tanks the battle would have ended up like Dieppe. And the fact that the fighting spirit and skills of the US... more
      • Posting PhotosJim Hildebrand, Tue Jan 3 13:04
        Mark, If you can email high-resolution copies to me, I will be happy to resize and post them for you. -Jim (Thanks for the heads-up George, due to the holidays I'd missed this posting.)
      • Re: The Tipping PointGeorge Proulx, Mon Dec 26 19:05
        Mark, You may remember me from several postings as a frequent responder to questions and answers regarding the tanks at Tarawa. I was the original person who located the tanks CANNONBALL and CHARLIE... more
    • responseRon Angleton, Fri Dec 23 11:27
      In my opinion, the turning point to this entire battle, was the fact that the individual marine, from privates to generals, decided that they were going to do whatever was necessary to win this... more
      • MarinesJim Crue, Fri Dec 23 23:25
        as a note, there is newly released book by British historian Max Hastings titled "Inferno" about World War 2. He states that the finest fighting force in WW2 was the US Marines. My dad could have... more
        • marinesJohn Armstrong, Mon Dec 26 16:43
          1. Marines do not use rear view mirrors. 2. Their vehicle steering wheels cannot turn more than 10 degrees. They are a family that looks to the future by staying close together. As a corpsman they... more
          • MARINESS, Mon Dec 26 21:05
    • Re: The tipping pointBrian O'Grady, Fri Dec 23 10:56
      I agree with Dave. As a mere "outside observer," it seems to me that it was the Marine's ability to assess the situation and to improvise on the fly, rather than remain rigid and inflexible that made ... more
    • Tarawa Tipping PointDAVEPENA, Fri Dec 23 01:14
      Col. Bale....great question. I wasn't there as I was just baarely over a year old future Marine Tanker. As the old saying goes: "the deadliest weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle." while... more
    • Tipping PointPaul Dostie, Fri Dec 23 00:04
      I believe the tipping point was the failure of the Japanese to seize the initiative the first night when the surviving Marines were largely pinned down on the beach with limited supplies. The... more
      • Joe AlexanderEd Gilbert, Fri Dec 23 18:14
        also believes this was a factor. He believes the Japanese garrison commander was killed by a fluke shell hit on the first day, and that disrupted communications and lack of local initiative foiled... more
    • Re: The tipping pointAnonymous, Thu Dec 22 23:44
      According to my dad, the Japanese has no chance from the very beginning. The Marines concern was not winning but who and how many would die. The tipping point from the very beginning was the... more
      • Reason for tacticsEd Gilbert, Fri Dec 23 17:27
        The GALVANIC operation did not use pre-positioned fire support bases on nearby small islands for valid reasons. The Japanese still posed a significant naval threat, and indeed their plan was simply... more
        • Re: Reason for tacticsAnonymous, Sat Dec 24 08:46
          After Pearl Harbor the Navy was always afraid of another ambush. They repeatedly cut short bombardment and rushed the Marines in to take heavy casualties. Tarawa is one place a fire support base... more
        • Sorry, I forgotEd Gilbert, Fri Dec 23 17:32
          to note that the Gilberts had to be taken. US carrier forces were never strong enough to project enough power, nor did they have adequate staying power to achieve uncontested air superiority or... more
          • Re: Sorry, I forgotAnonymous, Sat Dec 24 08:44
            I believe that both the Gilberts and the Marshalls could have been bypassed for the Marianas. The Gilberts and Marshalls were not easily supplied. Fighter raids would have destroyed air power in the... more
    • Re: The tipping point — Al Guerrero, Thu Dec 22 22:46
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