On September 15, 1944, some 6,000 men of the First Marine Division landed on a hot chunk of coral in the South Pacific called Peleliu.
The tiny island, a mere six miles long and two miles wide, held 10,000 Japanese defenders who had changed their battle strategy and literally went underground. There, deep inside the heavily fortified island were some 500 caves, pillboxes and tunnels. And our troops mistakenly believed the Navy's massive pre-invasion bombardment had thoroughly "softened up the enemy."
In this harrowing episode of "War Stories With Oliver North," you'll hear from extraordinary veterans like Everett Pope, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for storming the steep, razor-sharp, hills known as "Bloody Nose Ridge." And you'll hear the chilling account from retired four-star General Raymond Davis, whose battalion suffered an unprecedented 70 percent casualty rate in less than a week. Davis, who would go on to receive the Medal of Honor in the Korean War, sat down with Oliver North for an exclusive interview shortly before his death.
More than 9,500 Americans paid the ultimate sacrifice on this tiny island and decades after the so-called "forgotten battle" for Peleliu, the debate continues over whether taking the island was actually necessary. But no one questions the courage and determination of those soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who seized this Japanese fortress.
Staff for this episode:
Senior producer: Pamela K. Browne
Produced and written by: Cyd Upson and Jason Kopp
Production associate: Michael Weiss
Editor: Todd Zelin