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Commentary & Opinion
Tue May 21, 2013
Paul Elisha: A Tragic But True American War Story
In the wake of the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander of U.S. Central Pacific Forces, was determined to learn where and how the enemy was preparing to strike again. To find out, he sent a roving, hand-picked strike force – a raider battalion of Marines commanded by Col. Evan Carlson and Lt. Col. James Roosevelt, aboard two submarines, to find out. A small strike force, headed by Roosevelt, landed on Makin Atoll in the Gilbert Islands, to probe. They met strong Japanese resistance, did much damage and under overwhelming fire, were forced to withdraw, leaving 17 wounded in the process.
What Roosevelt learned became the basis for a report to Nimitz, that changed the concept of Amphibious Warfare from then on. Roosevelt envisioned a unit of diverse capabilities, that would land with the first assault wave and communicate all facets and needs back to the commander and staff. They would maintain this contact through all attack phases, until all initial and key objectives were reached and overcome. The result? An order from Nimitz to organize and prepare such a unit for action. In response Roosevelt created the 75th Joint Assault Signal Company.
It was trained and toughened in amphibious assaults on Attu and Kiska, in the Aleutians, became competent and courageous at Makin in the Gilbert Islands and Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshalls, was preparing for more important and more demanding objectives, when intra-service rivalry and political treachery subverted and eventually destroyed it. The result, oblivion for some three hundred brave and proud combat unit officers, non-coms and technical specialists.
After further; more demanding and dangerous service at Aitpe, New Gunea; Leyte and Luzon, in the Philippines and the longest, most dangerous and costliest of all Pacific battles: Okinawa, the entire complement of the 75th JASCO was erased from the official military records. Erased by subversive military chicanery of a single, subversive general, who envisioned himself as the ‘Patton of the Pacific:’ Marine Lt. General Holland M. Smith. To his earned discredit, he was deposed from command and forced into retirement. But alas, to ease public morale in war-time, the record has remained uncorrected to this very day. The unrecognized heroes of the 75th, deserve this correction.
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