1/1 commemorates 59th anniversary of Peleliu Battle

15 Sep 2003 | Sgt. Mark P. Ledesma

As the sun beamed down on a seemingly ordinary day on the USS Peleliu Sept. 15, an announcement came over the ship's loud speakers commemorating the 59th anniversary of the D-Day assault on Peleliu island.According to Navy Ensign Marc A. Vanorden, C4I division officer, USS Peleliu, and narrator of the brief history of the Battle of Peleliu, the commemoration was even more special because he was aboard the vessel named after the battle. The night prior to the commemoration, the ship passed approximately 59 miles north of the island.The capture of the six-mile by two-mile island was a stepping-stone in Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur's plan to invade the Philippines. The battle for the heavily fortified island resulted in high Marine casualties - when the island was finally declared secured Oct. 20, 1944, by Maj. Gen. Roy S. Geiger, commanding officer, 3rd Amphibious Corps, the total Marines Killed In Action was 1,336.The commemoration was a significant event for the Marines of Battalion Landing Team 1/1. It gave the Marines of 1/1 a chance to pay tribute to those Marines of the 1st Marines who bravely fought on the small islet.According to Vanorden, 1st Marines, commanded by Col. Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, was charged with the mission of assaulting the beaches to the left and pushing the Japanese forces toward the northwestern peninsula of the island.30-year-old Sgt. Kirk C. Linder, training noncommissioned officer, Headquarters Platoon, Company C, BLT 1/1, narrated Capt. Everett P. Pope's Medal of Honor citation during commemoration reading. According to Linder, Pope, who was the commanding officer of Company C, 1/1 during the battle was awarded the Medal of Honor for rallying what few men he had left during an assault on a steep coral hill. Low on water and ammunition, Pope and his men held their ground for two days until they were ordered to withdraw.Reading Pope's citation was inspiring, said Linder."They inspire us all to do our best in whatever (job we do)," said Linder, who was chosen for Pope's citation reading due to his and Pope's ties with 1st Marines and Company C. "I'm glad I actually got to do the reading, I was pretty nervous when they told me I was doing the narration, but I'm glad I did it."As the Marines and Sailors of the 13th MEU continue to push forward on their Western Pacific deployment and pass historical battle sites, they are constantly reminded of sacrifices the men and women who came before them made. For many aboard the ship, it is also a reminder of their commitment to their country.
13th Marine Expeditionary Unit