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The islet group of Tarawa, about 2,400 miles southwest of Hawaii, was held by the Japanese from 1941 to 1943 during World War II, and it fell to U.S. Marines of the Second Division after a bloody 76-hour battle. push through the central Pacific to the Philippine Islands.The Battle of Tarawa was partly a product of poor U.S. planning, a battle in which marines waded endlessly to shore — at low tide — over razor-sharp coral under withering firepower. Marines also tried to avoid Japanese sniper fire by disembarking from assault boats farther from shore, and some drowned in the deeper water from the weight of their ammunition belts.On November 20, U.S. The islet was a tough Japanese fortification of pillboxes, bunkers, and Barbed Wire protecting an airfield, occupied by the main concentration of their forces, numbering 4,700 soldiers and construction workers.Just after 5 a.m., the first shot at the Betio coast was fired from the American ships. There was so much rapid firepower from the ships that it looked to some like a machine-gun burst.After the marines witnessed the hail of fire, many concluded that little could be left of the enemy. Next, they heard a roar in the air and saw dozens of torpedo bombers, dive bombers, and fighters called in to stage another attack, which drew no discernible resistance from the ground.As the Higgens landing craft made their way in, they came to an abrupt halt on a reef. As the first wave of marines waded through the water to the beach, only a few managed to get to the shore.After realizing that the Japanese had a larger force than anticipated, the Americans sent out more and more men in an effort to establish a beachhead. With those reinforcements, they managed to secure part of the beach only 100 yards long and 20 feet in from the water`s edge.Meanwhile, the Japanese had lost their communications, but they were indoctrinated to either fight in place to the death, or commit suicide. With that determination, they fought fiercely against the Americans.The Japanese dispatched a seaplane, equipped with bombs under the wings, to attack the assaught craft caught on the reef. That single aircraft became a great asset to the Japanese as it easily dropped bombs on the sitting ducks below, causing most of the damage.At 6 a.m. Those 450 men fought their way inland to the airbase, which they took over and from which they continued to fight.As the morning tide began to rise, landing craft were able to pass over the reef and bring in many tanks. He decided on a major assault against the Japanese.The next day the major`s First Battalion and the Sixth Marines fought hard from the southern shore. The main attacks for the remainder of the day were the enemy snipers and the remaining pill boxes that had given them so much trouble the day before.That night the Japanese troops made one final attack on the Sixth Marines, Company B — a Banzai suicide charge. The brave men were barely able to hold their positions against the charging waves of soldiers.The counterattack on the night of the 22nd was the last-gasp effort of the Japanese on Betio island. The battle was over after more than three days of hellish fighting.The marines sustained nearly 3,000 casualties. Their willingness to fight to the last man augured the nature of other battles to come.