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 Marine carried the day under extreme adversity.
But as far as tipping points go, I think there are two. The first was the Japanese strategic decision to employ their highly skilled Naval Air Force as land based forces in the attrition air battle over Rabaul which they lost decisively. Their loss in skilled naval aviators was so great that their carriers never sailed from Truk to counter attack at Tarawa which was the cornerstone of their defensive strategy. They lost the battle of Tarawa when they lost the cream of their Naval aviators in the battle of the Solomons and then Rabaul.
The tactical tipping point of the land battle was when Major Mike Ryan put the remnants of 3/2 back together and worked with you and your two tanks to roll up the Japanese defenses on Green Beach which enabled Gen Julian Smith to land the first intact combat units on Green Beach when they landed the 6th Marines. The 6th Marines then rolled up the Japanese defenses on Black beach and that is your tipping point in my opinion.
Way to go Col Bale! Its quite an honor to chat with veterans of the battle like yourself.
I've spent quite a bit of time on that island in the last few years and recently found a number of wrecked landing craft in the lagoon as well as a LCM with a Stuart tank still on the deck. If you'd like to see the photos I'll ask Jim Hildebrand to post some. I'd be interested to interview you some time if you are interested to discuss the 2nd Tank Company on Tarawa.
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
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
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
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
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
Would love to have any and all you can release on both. E mail to Sipapu5318@yahoo.com. Snail mail to 1321 Park Bayou Dr C219, Houston, Texas 77077-1597. The son contacted me when Pappy was having so ... more
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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... more