Tarawa tour guides John and Molly Brown were featured in the December 2001 issue of Pacific Magazine with Islands Business feature story about the atoll. This magazine can be accessed on the web at www.pacificislands.cc .
Valor Tours Group Memorial Tour of Tarawa
Robert F. Reynolds, owner of Valor Tours, Ltd., wrote the following letter regarding their 58th anniversary tour of Tarawa last November.
“Our small twin engined chartered aircraft limited our group size to sixteen enthusiastic veterans, survivors and historians on our flight from Majuro atoll to Tarawa atoll last November, a two hour flight.
“Included in our expedition was a 2nd Marine Division Marine (accompanied by his son) who landed on Red Beach Three. Also, the nephew of another Marine who died as his amphibious tractor landed with the first wave on Red Beach One. Standing with them to cast a wreath over shallow waters was another survivor, the daughter of a B24 pilot, shot down in these waters.
“These three survivors stood together on the sea wall to cast a wreath over the shallow waters near the 2nd Marine Division Memorial while two kilted pipers played military tunes.
“Flown down from Kwajalein especially for the occasion, a U.S. Army colonel, two pipers and a bugler added their military presence as 'Taps' was played.
“We spent two full days touring the battle areas around Betio, the site of the Japanese fortifications. Big guns still dominate the scene although suffering the eroding effects of tropical heat and salt water - but there will still be relics in abundance when we attend the 60th Anniversary of the landings on Tarawa in November 2003.
“The Burns Philp pier has been enlarged and extended while a bustling town now thrives on Betio. Hotel accommodation is clean and adequate with a good restaurant willing to arrange out door bar-b-ques for our groups.
“We are now planning for the 60th Anniversary of the Landings on November 20, 2003. A departure from Honolulu has been set for November 15, 2003. While Tarawa is the principle focus, we will visit other atolls in the Marshall Islands fortified by the Japanese including Kwajalein.”
Valor Tours, Ltd. is located at 10 Liberty Ship Way, Suite 100, Sausalito, CA 94965. You can call them at 415 332-7850 or 800 842-4505, and fax at 415 332-6971. Bob's e-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org , and their website is www.ValorTours.com .
I hope to add some photos of last year's ceremony, currently being sent from the military photographer that accompanied the group from Kwajalein.
The March 2002 issue of Military Heritage Presents: WWII HISTORY includes a feature story by Al Hemingway entitled, “Bloody Betio: The Assault on Tarawa.” The 10-page story includes eight photos and a map of Betio, beginning on page 52.