War in the Pacific
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B. Asan Beach Unit, Asan Inland Unit and Fonte Plateau Unit

On W-Day, July 21, 1944, the lead elements of the 3d U.S. Marine Division crossed a reef from 200 to 500 yards offshore and landed on Asan Beach, which was defended by the Japanese 320th Independent Infantry Battalion and naval troops manning the coastal defense guns. The 1.3-mile-long landing area was flanked by two rocky points, "the devil's horns," extending into the lagoon. On the east (left) was Adelup Point. West and to the rear of Adelup was steep Chorrito Cliff which extended almost to the water's edge. Farther west, the cliff gave way to low level land covered with rice paddies. Asan River joined the sea in this area and the small village of Asan lay scattered among palm trees on the beach. At the western end, rocky Asan Point bordered the beach. From east to west, two battalions of the 3d U.S. Marines Regiment landed on Beach Red 1; one battalion of the 3d U.S. Marines landed on Beach Red 2; three battalions of the 21st U.S. Marines came ashore on Beach Green, in the middle; and three battalions of the 9th U.S. Marines landed on Beach Blue adjacent to Asan Point. The Japanese held their fire until the landing vehicles were close to shore, the 3d U.S. Marines particularly receiving heavy fire from Adelup Point and Chorrito Cliff on their left flank.

By noon the 3d U.S. Marines had reached the top of steep Chorrito Cliff and in the afternoon overcame the enemy on Adelup Point. Inland from Chorrito Cliff, the terrain becomes a ruggedly hilly area cut by deep ravines and covered with man-high sword grass and other jungle vegetation. The marines named one 400-foot-high rocky outcropping Bundschu Ridge for Capt. Geary R. Bundschu, who was assigned to take this ridge. Here, the Japanese held off the marines throughout the day and inflicted heavy casualties, including the life of Captain Bundschu.

In the center of the landing beach, the 21st U.S. Marines advanced up the Asan River valley against only moderate resistance until they reached a series of ridges from which Japanese fire forced the marines to dig in for the night.

(click on image for an enlargement in a new window)

(click on image for an enlargement in a new window)

To the west, right, the 9th U.S. Marines made the day's greatest advance, but suffered casualties from caves on Asan Point. It crossed the rice paddies swiftly and reached the inland ridge. Part of the regiment swung to the southwest, crossed a bridge near the mouth of Matgue (then called Nidual) River, and moved on to a point 400 yards short of Taguag River near Piti. When these marines crossed the Matgue River, fire from Japanese positions on the west side of Asan Point fell on them. By nightfall, however, all enemy opposition on the point had been silenced. Through the night, Japanese reinforcements plugged gaps in their lines on the ridges above Asan. And through the night, small groups of Japanese counterattacked along the 3d Marine Division's front, the most serious blow being against the 3d U.S. Marines in the Chorrito Cliff area.

On July 22, the 3d U.S. Marines renewed their attack on Bundschu Ridge. Despite repeated attempts against the natural stronghold, the marines gained no ground and continued to suffer heavy casualties. The 21st U.S. Marines to the right attempted to make contact with the 3d, but "the nightmare of twisting ravines, jumbled rocks, and steep cliffs that hid beneath the dense vegetation" precluded the effort. [2] That night, the Japanese counterattacked again, and again suffered severely. Unknown to the marines, the Japanese withdrew from Bundschu Ridge before dawn.

To the right, the 9th U.S. Marines continued their advance on July 22, entering the Piti area and taking the old navy yard and a Japanese three-gun coastal battery.

On July 23, after occupying Bundschu Ridge, the 3d U.S. Marines pushed their attack toward the high ground west of lower Fonte River. The 21st U.S. Marines in the center spent the day improving their positions, establishing outposts, and beating off Japanese patrols. Not until the next day, July 24, was the gap between the 3d and 21st closed.

On the night of July 25-26, the Japanese launched their last major counterattack against the 3d Marine Division. One of the most bitter struggles involved the 9th U.S. Marines on the forward slopes of the Fonte Plateau, the high ground toward which the marines had been struggling since W-Day. Along the entire front, Japanese infiltrators made their way down to the beach, striking at various targets including the division hospital near Asan Point. The counterattack was in vain, however, for the Japanese lost 3,200 men that night. On July 27, the Third Division launched an all-out attack on the Fonte area. By the 28th all the Fonte area was in American hands except for a depression on the plateau which was silenced on the 29th. General Takashima was dead, having been hit by machine gun fire from an American tank. Japanese forces began a general retreat toward northern Guam.

Following the battle for Guam, great changes occurred in the Asan-Fonte area. The rice paddies on the beach gave way to a motor pool area and a cemetery for American dead. Seabees constructed a four-lane highway, Marine Drive, along the shore, changing the face of the Chorrito Cliff. Still later, the motor pool gave way to a naval hospital. Asan Point was opened as a coral quarry, destroying remaining fortifications and changing the point into low, level ground. The old village of Asan was destroyed during the fighting, and a new town of the same name was erected farther inland to the east. The high land of Fonte was renamed Nimitz Hill and Admiral Nimitz moved his CINCPAC headquarters there from Hawaii. In recent times, a large modern school was constructed on Adelup Point and a flood-control project was completed at the mouth of Asan River.

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Last Updated: 07-Mar-2005