Tarawa - the Aftermath is the story of a tiny island, part of an atoll named Tarawa, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Betio is the southwesternmost island of the atoll, and it was the one chosen by the Japanese to heavily fortify during World War II. This book does not cover the three-day assault by the 2d Marine Division of November 20 to 23, 1943. Many other books have extensively examined the events of those three days of “utmost savagery.”
Tarawa - the Aftermath gives a thorough account of events leading up to those days, then picks up after the island was declared “secure.” It tells the stories of the 6th Marines, who were given the job of chasing down the stragglers as they swept the rest of the atoll. It is the story of the ARGUS and ACORN seamen who came ashore with the Marines to start setting up an American base. Tarawa - the Aftermath tells about the Seabees and the incredible work they did to not only ready Betio's airstrip for use, but to build an even bigger strip further up the atoll that would accommodate B-24s. This is the story of life on a very remote, formerly idyllic atoll, when the garrison troops took over and preparation began for the next strike of the Central Pacific Drive - the Marshall Islands.
There where nightly bombings from “Piss-Call Pete” and “Bed-Check Charlie,” and for many weeks there was the constant threat of a retaliatory Japanese raid or even an assault of their own. Tarawa - the Aftermath contains many personal remembrances of life there during the duration of the war, mostly humorous. The book continues the story of the atoll after the end of the war, and tells about the transition of the Gilbert Islands into the Republic of Kiribati. It brings the story of Tarawa right up to the present, with the launching of satellites from Kiribati territorial waters on the equator.
After many delays and agonizing periods of uncertainty, Tarawa - the Aftermath is here. As it was self-published, so it will be self-marketed. I hope to attend national annual meetings of Seabees, Marines, Army, and Navy veterans of World War II to display and sell the book. There will be local book signings and I'll see if the BX at Wright-Patterson AFB will carry it, as well as the Air Force Museum book store. After all, I've been serving there for six years in the Air Force Reserve (IMA). I believe the Marine Corps Association bookstore at Quantico will make it available, and I'll pursue other military-oriented bookstores and sources as well.
If you're not near any of these places, I'll be happy to send you a copy. The book sells for US$ 29.95 (plus 6% sales tax - $ 1.80 - if you live in Ohio) and U.S. Postal Service book rate is $ 2.21 (7 days). First Class is $ 3.95 (2 days). If you want it faster, that can be arranged.
When you’ve read the book, I’d appreciate your comments and feedback. If you know a Tarawa veteran, see if he would be willing to add his story, memories, and recollections to this website. It would be great to read the things that stand out most about his time on “The Rock.” I would especially like to hear from the air and ground crews of the units that flew out of Tarawa. Although several attempts were made to solicit input through unit organizations, I never got a reply. The information gathered came from unit histories and records at the National Archives.
I hope you enjoy the many stories of the Marines, Seabees, sailors, and airmen who served on Tarawa, and read more stories as they are added to this website.
Donald K. Allen