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USN March 30, 1944
USN March 31, 1944
USMC Sept 15, 1944
USN October 1946
Google Earth 2006
Reid Joyce 2009
Lat 7° 0' 0N 134° 13' 59E Peleliu Airfield is located in roughly the center of southern Peleliu Island in Palau (Republic of Palau, Belau, Pelew). Borders "White Beach" and "Orange Beach" to the west and south, the September 15, 1944 U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) landing beaches. Borders Umurbrogol (Bloody Nose Ridge) to the northeast.
Built by the Japanese, the airfield had a pair of intersecting runways with taxiways and revetments with a large concrete headquarters building.
Japanese units based at Peleliu
263 Kokutai (Zero) Matsuyama February 29,1944–March 24, 1944 Guam
Peleliu Airfield was used by the Japanese as a base for fighters and bomber aircraft. Attacked by American bombers and fighters during the middle of June 1944 until the Marines captured the airfield on September 17, 1944.
American missions against Peleliu
June 9, 1944–September 17, 1944
On September 15, 1944 the U. S. Marine Corps 1st Marine Division (1st Mar Div) landed on the southwest corner of Peleliu and by the end of the day had captured the southern portion of Peleliu Airfield. The Japanese attempted a counterattack by seventeen Type 95 Ha Go tanks from the 14th Division supported by infantry that advanced across the airfield, but were destroyed by the defending Marines with supporting fire from M4 Sherman tanks.
Don Huebner recalls:
"I remember most vividly one an F-4F Wildcat that bellied in on the Jap held airfield while we were landing. When I saw it a day or so later the American pilot was slumped over just as he died. The pilot had evidently done a dead stick landing and was shot in the temple as he slid to a stop. In those years it was vogue to wear aluminum watch bands or bracelets made from material torn off crashed aircraft, ours or theirs. Some of the guys, usually Seabees were very talented at etching pretty patterns into the shiny metal. Near that plane was a very strange sight also. On one of our stretchers there was a dead Jap, he was dressed in our Marine uniform and had a medical tag on a button telling of the frontline treatment I suppose. Evidently he had gotten on that pad during the night and hoped to be carried back inside our lines to "do his number" on unsuspecting medics. They had a pungent odor and he was recognized immediately and shot on the spot."
With The Old Breed by Eugene Sledge:
"At approximately 1650 I looked out across the open airfield toward the southern extremities of the coral ridges - collectively called Bloody Nose Ridge and saw vehicles of some sort moving amid swirling clouds of dust... Shell bursts appeared among the tanks. Some of our Sherman tanks had arrived at the edge of the airfield on our left and opened fire. Because of the clouds of dust and the shellfire, I couldn't see much and didn't see any enemy infantry, but the firing on our left was heavy... Rather than a banzai attack, the Japanese counter thrust turned out to be a well-coordinated tank-infantry attack. Approximately one company of infantry, together with about thirteen tanks, had moved carefully across the airfield until annihilated by the Marines on our left."
By September 17, 1944 on D+2 the Marines had captured all of the airfield and began advancing inland. At Peleliu Airfield, an number of wrecked Japanese aircraft were captured including a G4M1 Betty and A6M Zero Tail 63-192 plus wreckage of many other aircraft.
American units based at Peleliu (partial list)
Reid Joyce, BentProp adds:
95 Ha Go Medium Tank
Map Sept 16-23, 1944
View in Google Earth
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