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I caught a piece on the 6:30 ABC world new tonight. A veterean of the Tarawa Campaign went back to see the island where he fought. What he saw was dump. He was disgusted and could not believe his eyes. He's now pushing members of the US government to help out in the clean up of this "hallowed" ground where US Marines and Japanese soldiers fought and died. They did show some of the many piles of rubish dumped by the waters edge waiting for the tide to comes in and flush the toilet so to speak. I post this because several board members was planning a trip there.
 

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Yeah, we "flushed" the trip when we found out what a cesspool the place has become. I've wanted to visit it for most on my life & was appalled at it's present condition.
 

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Tarawa

It was always what it was, and it is what it is, a small pos Pacific Island.
In hindsight, we should have just bypassed it, left it there and let the Japanese forces manning it starve.
Nevertheless, 1,000 Marines, more or less, lost their lives on that sand spit, and because they bought it fair and square, paying in full, Tarawa is sacred ground.
The gentleman's name is Leon Cooper, a Lt. J.G at the time, and now he's an older fellow, but no less the hero. And, he's totally abashed at what we've let become of hallowed ground.
It would not be inappropriate to help him, meanwhile honoring our troops--any ideas?

"26 May 2008 (CBS)
At 88, Leon Cooper is fighting another battle of Tarawa.

"I walked along the beach and frankly I couldn't stop - I was crying," Cooper said.

The first battle of Tarawa was in 1943 -- one of the bloodiest of World War II: 1,001 Marines and sailors killed and 2,296 wounded; 4,600 Japanese died there. Leon Cooper's job was to ferry Marines to Red Beach in a landing craft.

"What will stay with me the rest of my life is watching guys being cut to pieces by gunfire. I could hear the bullets whizzing around me. I could see the mortars splashing in the water near me. You can't be careful in a battle. You're lucky or you're not," Cooper said. "I was lucky."

But now he's angry at what he saw when he returned to the South Pacific atoll last February for the first time since the war. What to Cooper was hallowed ground, to the citizens of Tarawa is just the local dump.

"This is an unsanitary desecration of hallowed ground," he said. "The remains of 200 Americans are still on the island."

So this old sailor geared up for battle one more time - on a mission to remove the tons of garbage from the beach and erect a proper memorial to those who died. He met with the president of the island nation of Kiribati.

"I'm determined to make this a success," Cooper said.

But he says this is a job for the U.S. government. He says the U.S. needs to pay respect to the fallen by paying for the clean up.

"It's a symbol of our country's neglect of guys who gave their lives for our country," Cooper said.

He contacted everybody - from the White House to the Pentagon to members of Congress.

And what happened?

"I got nothing except a few routine acknowledgments, one saying, 'we thank you for your interest in this subject'," he recalled.

Cooper says this might be his last hurrah, but he's determined that this battle of Tarawa will end like the first - with sailors and Marines victorious.

"I owe it to the guys that I saw being killed in defense of our country," he said. "It's as simple as that."
 

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My grandfather was a SeaBee on Tarawa. He recalled that one of the big gun emplacements (he said there was only one, on the north side, I think). He found a helmet under the gun emplacement, but the Japanese head was still strapped in. He said he could smell the island well before they landed ashore.
 

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It has always been an over-populated, garbage pit. I recall many years ago about Red Beach used as a dump.

-eric
I was there in 1984 and it was just as pathetic then. I don't know if there is an answer to "what can we do". It's a tiny backwater of a place, and holds no value outside of the memories of the veterans who served there. My guess is that within the next decade it will "go away" from our collective memory as have so may Civil War and World War One sites.

John in Charlotte, NC
 

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My guess is that within the next decade it will "go away" from our collective memory as have so may Civil War and World War One sites.
I don't know about that. Programs like the history channel and military channel have done a lot to teach people about our military history. I think, if anything, there is a renewed interest among many people.

At the least, I hope you're not right, JWMWITZ. ;)
 

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Perhaps so. My Active Duty regiment was 1/8. I recall the Tarawa battle streamers while on parades, etc. It is one of the reasons I went there twenty five years ago. If there was ever an opportunity to clean the place up, I'd be on it.

John in Charlotte, NC
 

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I can see why he'd be "appalled", but its not US property, so unsure what he wants the US gov't to do. We could volunteer to send over a group to clean the beaches, but if the folks who live there don't care, then it will stay a cesspool.

They did say that supposedly a 100 marines are still buried there (although the US military said that was not "proven" or some such.....) That would be an excuse to go in and clean up, with the Republic of Kiribati, South Tarawa, permission of course.


Ed
 

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The answer could also be as simple as capitalism: frankly speaking, if there are enough tourists who would be drawn to Tarawa to see the battlefield, they might be convinced to clean things up to draw them in. But what would the market really be? Maybe a few hundred hard core enthusiasts a year? That's not enough.
I'd go
 
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