NOTE: Thanks for all you do keeping the memory alive of those who gave so much on Tarawa. I'm writing in hopes that you could add this to my Dad's, James Waterworths story. Dad passed away Aug 13, 2006, still a Marine to the end. Also if you could add, that if one is interested you can go to the website: "YouTube" and search on "James Waterworth Remembers WWII" and watch a video of Dad talking about Tarawa and Saipan. It's really good and very graphic.
My name is Steve Waterworth. I'm from Easton Illinois. My father, James Waterworth, was in the initial landing on Betio. He is 85 years old and still talks about the “Battle for Tarawa.” So often that I feel like I was there for what I consider to be the most incredibly courageous action by any Americans in any war.
Dad has always told the story that a small group of marines landed first on Betio and were in bad way fighting the Japanese when his company, I-3-8, and the rest of the marines were called to their rescue.
Fortunately for Dad his Higgins boat went through a spot in the reef up to near the Pier. He jumped out and almost drown in 10 feet of water. Air in his packs brought him up to the surface one time and he was able to get rid of the gear on his back.
Blinded and full of seawater he slipped and fell face first into the remains of a dead marine on the pier. He threw up for a long time after that. He made it to the beach, dug a fox hole. During the night the tide came in and he waited neck deep in the water for morning to come. You didn't dare move at night.
Extremely thirsty and with no canteen, having lost it, he learned that the five gallon cans of water brought ashore were so badly contaminated with paint that the water was unfit to drink. I believe he had no water til the 3rd day.
He survived the battle unscathed. He wasn't so lucky on Saipan, where he was wounded, but not badly. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor there were 180 marines in his company. After Tinian, his final battle, there were only 2 of the original 180 left, most having been killed. Dad says that the 2nd Marine Corp Division that he served in was the best bunch of fighters ever put together and heaven help the enemy that came up against them.