|Our lady friend in Abaiang, south village|
|Sitting on the Equator|
|Tactical error on landing: choosing a neap-low tide to land the troops|
Betio Beach – 1*44.453 N, 171*01.795E – As we dropped anchor at Betio Beach, it suddenly dawned on us that this was the infamous Tarawa of the previously-named Gilbert Islands. This very beach is where Operation Galvanic took place, one of the bloodiest battles of WWII, where, from November 20th to 24th 1943, a total of 35,000 U.S. marines and soldiers attacked this 3,800 yard wide strip of land, decimating the 4,500 Japanese soldiers, making the battle of Tarawa one of the bloodiest in the history of American landing assaults. It was also the first American victory over the Japanese, and the turning point of war in the Pacific. The cost to our forces? 1,113 dead Marines and 2,290 wounded.
|Taking a nap underway, I can always see the islands|
|No wonder that a large tuna fishing fleet loiters in these waters|
|So many islands… one of them|
|Abainag, South anchorage – talcum-powder sand|
|Typical home conatruction. The COCONUT tree is the life of these island|
|Our favorite couple.|
|Tabuaro: The loveliest, cleanest village we’ve visited,|
|Every home is fitted with running water|
|A typical food storage shed|
KUMA VILLAGE (Butaritari) – 03*10.539N, 172*57.242E – 7m – sand. Did you say HEAVEN??? We dropped anchor just short of the shallows that fringe the village. Yes, another place impossible to reach at low tide! But what a reception. If there is heaven on earth, this has to be it. Never have we encountered people so warm, happy, simple, absolutely at peace. The community (just a few families) is strong.
|Our host in Kuma, speaks English, served on a ship for many years…
His trunk is behind him, the key around his neck, and that’s about it!
|A typical “window blind,” lowered or raised to provide shade or protect from the rain|
|The local kids are always ready to tag along|
|“Thank You America”|
|How to wash your hands!!!|
|Year 5 school room|
When one of the village elders stood, all went quiet. The old man waved away the microphone, and his stentor’s voice retold the story of the liberation of Butaritari, when thousands of Marines landed and defeated the Japanese. A scared 5-year old boy never forgot, and to this day keeps reminding the islanders that “Without the Americans (he points at us) YOU and I would not be here today.” In a very emotional moment, he walked to us and shook our hands.