Today is September 15, 1944. The time is 0300, this is D-day for the 1st Marine Division’s attack on the Japanese occupied island of “Peleliu,” one of many small but well-fortified islands of the Palau group in the western Carolines. H-hour has been officially announced as 0830, which is but five and-one-half hours before us. The troops were awake most of the night and many stayed on deck to watch the first glimpses of the naval bombardment as we draw closer to the island. Reveille at 0300 was only a reminder to the men that there remained only a few hours before we would be moving to a hostile beach. The time is now 0315 and from where I am standing on the flag bridge, I can see the reddish-orange flashes of our big naval guns and hear the echoing report from miles across the slightly choppy sea. It is not yet light and the island of Peleliu cannot be seen except when it is occasionally silhouetted by a big explosion inland from the beach. It is 0330 now and the troops are at breakfast, eating their scrambled eggs, bacon, coffee, and fresh fruit in the mess hall down below decks. It is still darken ship on all weather decks. 0430 and the men have finished breakfast and returned to their respective compartments to finally arrange and check their battle equipment and add a finishing touch to their weapons with brush, oil, and ramrod. These weapons are going to mean life or death in a tight spot.
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