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    Makin Island (Butaritari) Makin Atoll Republic of Kiribati (Gilbert Islands)
Click For Enlargement
USN November 1943

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CILHI 1999
Makin Island is part of Makin Atoll in the Gilbert Islands. Known as "Butaritari Island" to locals. Borders Makin Lagoon (Butaritari Lagoon). Prewar and during the Pacific War located in the Gilbert Islands. Today located in Republic of Kiribati.

Wartime History
On December 9, 1941 Japanese forces occupied Makin Island.

Makin Raid
On August 17, 1942 at 3:30am two submarines USS Argonaut and USS Nautilus (SS-168) surfaced and deployed rubber rafts with outboard engines to land U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) 2nd Raider Battalion including Company A and Company B. This was the first U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) operation launched from submarines. The "Makin Raid" was to destroy installations, disrupt the enemy and divert reinforcements to Guadalcanal. After killing 83 Japanese and destroying installations, ships and two flying boats (Sgt Buck Stidham and Sgt Walter Carroll claimed two seaplanes destroyed using their Boys Anti-Tank rifle). After the battle, the Marines were forced to evacuate in the face of Japanese air attacks and reinforcements. Departing, the Marines were forced to leave their dead behind. Afterwards, their bodies were buried in a mass grave by the islanders under the direction of the Japanese.

On November 20, 1943 U.S. Marines made an amphibious landings on Makin and Tarawa. Three days later, the island was declared secure. Immediately, work began to develop Makin Airfield and develop the island into a base area.

Makin Raiders Mass Grave Site
In 1999 the US Army Central Identification Laboratory (CILHI) located the mass grave of USMC killed during the 'Makin Raid' and buried on the island. They exhumed the remains of 19 Marines, and ten months later all positively identified and reentered in the United States. Makin Recovery Details

Makin Seaplane Base
Japanese seaplane base bordering Makin Lagoon

Makin Lagoon (Butaritari Lagoon)
When the Japanese occupied the island, used the Makin Lagoon as a seaplane operating area for H6K Mavis and H8K Emily flying boats. During the war, at least four seaplanes were sunk in the lagoon. There are also several American planes, including two F4U's and a B-25 also.

Makin Airfield (Butaritari, Antakana, Starmann)
Built by Americans after recapturing the island, still in use today

USS Liscome Bay (CVE-56)
Sunk by November 24, 1943 by a torpedo from Japanese sub I-175 20 miles off Makin.

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Last Updated
April 27, 2021


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