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A Close Encounter: The Marine Landing on Tinian

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Tinian, only three miles from Saipan, was the perfect “textbook” amphibious operation of the war in the pacific. Meticulous planning, tactical surprise, and a thorough naval, land, and air bombardment enabled the 4th Marine Division to land on 24 July 1944, overcome the comparatively light resistance at the two small adjacent beachheads, and move inland. Meanwhile, the 2nd Marine Division simulated a landing to the south off the heavily defended Tinian Town, reinforcing the Japanese commander’s belief that the main attack would fall in that area. That night, the Japanese mounted a large scale counterattack which was beaten back with virtually no survivors, and eliminated the mobile reserves available to Colonel Ogata, the Japanese commander.

Most of the 2nd Marine Division landed on the following day on the two invasion beaches and pushed eastward, mopping up scattered remnants of the previous night’s counterattack. Once the northern third of the island was secured, both divisions drove southward, pushing the Japanese into an ever-decreasing zone of control. Tinian was declared secure on 1 August 1944, only nine days after the initial assault. Its airfield were rebuilt and provided the main base for the B-29 “Superfortress” raids on the Japanese homeland, including the atomic bomb attacks on both Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Text courtesy of USMC Historical Center

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