12 April 2019
Project Recover honored the fallen at a wreath-laying ceremony for the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Peleliu. Cleared Ground Demining hosted the ceremony. The ceremony was held at the US Army 323d Infantry Monument and Lookout on Peleliu.
The Battle of Peleliu was a fierce battle between US forces covering for General MacArthur’s return to the Philippines and occupying Japanese forces defending their regional headquarters and homeland.
US Army 323d Infantry Monument and Lookout, Peleliu
We left Koror at 9 am and headed by boat for Peleliu. It was another beautiful day with clear skies and sunshine. April in Palau is generally thick with humidity. The breezy boat ride took us through the picturesque Rock Islands, a collection of ancient limestone uprisings surrounded by turquoise water in Palau’s Southern Lagoon.
Cassandra McKeown and Steve Ballinger, Directors of Cleared Ground Demining, met us at the dock. Cleared Ground Demining has devoted more than a decade to clearing unexploded ordnance (UXO) from Peleliu.
We loaded into their Land Cruisers and headed to the US Army 323d Infantry Monument and Lookout for the ceremony. The Lookout is on top of a coral ridge called Umurbrogol Mountain, nicknamed Bloody Nose Ridge by the US Marines. We climbed 100 steps to get to the top. From that vantage point, we looked over an area called Death Valley.
75th Anniversary of the Battle of Peleliu
Steve Ballinger laid a wreath with the banner ‘Lest We Forget’ beside the Monument. First, he remembered those who served and continue to serve to protect our freedom. Then, he prayed for the fallen at the Battle of Peleliu. Pat Scannon, Project Recover President, said a prayer as well. After taps, we poured beer for all and toasted the fallen at the Battle of Peleliu.
Project Recover folded a flag on Orange Beach in remembrance of USMC Sgt. Romus V. Burgin. Burgin fought with distinction during the Battle of Peleliu and visited the island as a civilian with Project Recover in 2014. We spent time on Orange Beach where RV first landed in 1944. He passed away on April 6th, 2019.
Battle of Peleliu History
Peleliu is a small volcanic island in Palau strategically located between the Marianas and the Philippines. It was vitally important to the Japanese since 1918 and served as their regional headquarters during World War II. The Japanese defended Peleliu with over 10,000 troops and held over 30,000 troops on the main islands of Babeldaob, expecting the main battle to be there.
The Battle of Peleliu was among the bloodiest battles in the Pacific Theater. Of approximately 28,000 US troops on Peleliu, 35% were either killed or wounded. In all, 1,800 US servicemen were killed and 8,000 wounded in the Battle of Peleliu. It is their courage and sacrifice we honored at the ceremony.
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