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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Vote/Voted off the Island (05/29/14)

TITLE: Marines attack Tarawa
By Robert Douglas Brown


“December 7, 1941, a date that will live in infamy,” were words uttered by US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt after Japan’s unprovoked attack of Pearl Harbor.

America was finally dragged, kicking and screaming, into World War Two. Japanese Naval Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto made a true prediction when he said that Japan had awakened a sleeping giant. Indeed, a furious sleeping giant had been rudely awakened, and now was out for blood from Japan and its Axis Allies.

“Hey Rico, if our battleship fleet keeps bombing that plug of useless wasteland, there won't be anything left except some sea-shells and coconut fragments.” Rico studied Billy-Ray Finley with a most serious look, and then burst out in laughter loud enough to wake the ship’s napping captain.

“Billy-Ray, besides our tin-can battleship; The most famous US Nashville, I think there are 19 other battleships and 1 aircraft carrier, all trying to see who can once and for all sink that miserable spec of land called Tarawa.”

Billy-Ray Finely nodded his head in agreement, in order to hush his loud-mouth Marine buddy, Rico Cortez.

It was November 20, 1943, and America had been slowly turning the tide in the Pacific Theater one island at a time. Each conquered island from Japan came in human losses of Marines and Navy Sailors.

Japanese soldiers and airplane pilots were trained to fight to the death, and to never surrender to their foes under any circumstance.

Billy-Ray Finley and Rico Cortez met during their basic training at Paris Island Marine Base in South Carolina. Billy-Ray Finley was a mountain man as he liked to be called, and was from Cedar Gap, North Carolina, his birthplace.

Rico Cortez was from Pitch-Fork, Montana. Rico was a 3rd generation Montana rancher’s son. Each Marine had just turned 22 years old and had been together since boot camp in the winter of 1942. Tarawa was the first invasion that their company participated in.

Each young man had accepted Christ during their 4th week of basic training, and had become dedicated Christian young men who were respected and admired by most of their fellow Marines.

“Men, please assemble immediately in the conference bay, assemble in the conference bay immediately.” Marine Captain Thomas Steele was a no-nonsense Marine that demanded unquestionable allegiance from his men. The captain reciprocated respect to every marine in his company.

“I am sure you have a lot of questions about the mission we are about to undertake. As you have heard, our convoy of 20 battleships has been shelling the Tarawa Atoll for the past 3 days. We have shelled this tiny island that is 2 miles long and 800 yards wide, with enough explosives to destroy New York City.”

Captain Steele then asked anyone if they had any questions.

“Corporal Finley, I see that you are the first Marine with a question; Fire away Marine.”

“Sir, with all of the shelling we have done to the small island, there could be no soldier alive. Why do we even bother to have an invasion?”

“Corporal Finley, you have raised the most important question to date. I know all of you good men would have asked the same question, if I had called on any of you in this room.

As a Christian first and your leader second, we are dealing with an enemy who only has one thing on his mind, and that is to kill each and every Marine or US Serviceman that sets one foot on the soil of this tiny spec of land. You cannot show mercy in that none will be shown to you.

Do not expect any surrender from your enemy. To do so would bring dishonor to his Emperor and family. You see men, his Emperor is his God.”

At that point, the room went silent. “Corporal Cortez, please ask your question.”

“His Emperor is his God?”
“Yes that is correct Corporal Cortez.”
“Sir, the men in this room know that God is the God of the Bible and our savior, Jesus Christ.”

“That is correct Corporal, that is correct,” answered the captain.

The next day, the shelling stopped, and the Marines advanced on shore. As predicted by the captain, approximately 3,000 Japanese soldiers that were hidden in underground dugout caverns impervious to the shelling attacked the Marines with a vengeance.

When the island had been cleared of Japanese soldiers, well over a 1,000 Marines lost their lives, and over 2,000 were injured.

The true God of mankind prevailed.

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This article has been read 239 times
Member Comments
Member Date
lynn gipson 06/05/14
This is even better than the last. Great detail and awesome description bring this war to life on your pages. Your military stories are excellent.

Great approach to the topic, they were certainly "Voted off the island" by the US.

I felt as if I was there.

Blessings, Lynn
C D Swanson 06/05/14
Excellent job! You have such a gift for writing military entries.

I enjoy them all, and there are so many military men and women out there, that would love to read your entries too!

Great job.

God bless~
John Esposito06/05/14
Great story!!! Thank you for keeping our history alive. Many people think that the Marine Corps is filled with trained killers. The fact is they are very spiritual. And the only thing that they are truly afraid of is God. Thank you for showing that side of them as well…Semper Fi
Julene Celander06/06/14
This is fabulous!

I can picture it all so clearly in my head as I read your words.

Great job telling the tragedies of war and who is really "Chief Commander".

Keep writing my friend!

God Bless and keep you.
Allison Egley 06/08/14
This is good.

I'd suggest actually taking us TO the battle, instead of giving us all the background and descriptions. Instead of telling us there were soldiers hidden underground, take us to the point they were discovered, and lest us experience that from one of the survivor's point of view.

Nice job overall. I've always enjoyed historical fiction.
Joe Moreland06/09/14
You picked a good story, and you tell the historical side of it well. I feel like you created the two characters of Rico and Billy-Ray to help personalize the historical account. That was a good idea, but I wish it had gone further and really made it more of an eyewitness account.

Your instincts are excellent for what makes a good story and you have a good knack for highlighting the most fascinating facts. The one area that I think would help is more showing us what happened and less telling us what happened. The two characters you created in this story would have been excellent instruments for doing just that, but it seems they got swallowed up by the story.

I don't say this to be critical of your style, but because I see a lot of promise in your writing and really believe this is something that could maybe add that extra dimension to your stories and help you bring them a little more to life.

Thanks for sharing, and please keep them coming!
Graham Insley06/09/14
You write a good historical story and come across as really knowing your facts. That builds confidence for the reader and is important in this type of story.

For me, some of the conversation was unrealistic and cluttered with things that the marines would not have said to each other. Example: “Billy-Ray, besides our tin-can battleship; The most famous US Nashville, I think there are 19 other battleships and 1 aircraft carrier, all trying to see who can once and for all sink that miserable spec of land called Tarawa.”

What is more realistic is, "Billy Ray, besides us there are..." They both already know which ship their on.

I also would prefer more showing and less telling. Which is part of what I've said above; the conversation being used to convey facts.

That aside, and my comments are only aimed at helping, you have great writing skills and I look forward to your next entry.

Sheldon Bass 06/10/14
This is a powerful piece of work. And I recognize the writing, but it is, in my opinion your best entry yet. You are really taking off now!

You did a good job with the dialogue and also the opening. I was pulled into the story right away and held captive to the very end.

Yes, our God is the only true God and He shall always prevail!

Excellent work!
lynn gipson 06/12/14
Congratulations! If you are anywhere near a computer over there in France, I hope you read this. You have been in the top five twice now, and I'm telling you, you're on your way.

I hope your health is good and you and Diane are having a grand old time!

Blessings, Lynn
Sheldon Bass 06/12/14
Congratulations Robert!

I am so pleased for your HC on this piece. I thought it might do even better, but other writers in your level are also improving. The competition is great, pushing us to constantly grow. Drop me a note when you get a chance.
Julene Celander06/12/14
Way to go, Robert! Two in a row!!!

I am so very happy for you!

Have a safe and wonderful trip...look forward to your next entry.

God Bless and Keep you!!
C D Swanson 06/13/14

So happy for you my friend! This was an excellent story, and touched the hearts of many. Glad it got recognition.

Keep them coming!!

God bless~