Marines in World War II Commemorative Series
Planning the Attack
The Marine Attack: Roi-Namur
The Army Attack: Kwajalein
The Final Attack: Eniwetok
Maj. Gen. Holland M. Smith
Maj. Gen. Harry Schmidt
Brig. Gen. Thomas E. Watson
Special Subjects
The 4th Marine Division
Naval Support
The Deadly Spider Holes

BREAKING THE OUTER RING: Marine Landings in the Marshall Islands
by Captain John C. Chapin, USMCR (Ret)


All of the basic Marine histories for World War II contain detailed accounts of the Marshalls operation. This monograph represents a summary, supplemented by individual experiences drawn from the Personal Papers and Oral Histories Collections in the Marine Corps Historical Center, Washington, D.C.

Among the most useful were: 1stLt John C. Chapin, USMCR, The 4th Marine Division in World War II (Washington: Historical Division, HQMC, 1945); LtCol Robert D. Heinl, Jr., USMC, and LtCol John A. Crown, USMC, The Marshalls: Increasing the Tempo (Washington: Historical Branch, G-3 Division, HQMC, 1954); Historical Division, HQMC. "The Marshall Islands Operations." Unpublished draft, n.d. World War II—Marshall Islands Records File. Marine Corps Historical Center, Washington, D.C.; LtCol S. L. A. Marshall, AUS, Island Victory (Washington: Infantry Journal Press, 1944); Carl W. Proehl, ed., The Fourth Marine Division in World War II (Washington: Infantry Journal Press, 1946); Henry I. Shaw, Jr., Bernard C. Nalty, and Edwin T. Turnbladh, Central Pacific Drive—History of U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II, vol 3 (Washington: Historical Branch, G-3 Division, HQMC, 1966).

In the Personal Papers Collection Unit, Marine Corps Historical Center, Washington, D.C., the following files have been useful: First Lieutenant John C. Chapin (PC 671); Master Sergeant Roger M. Emmons (PC 304); Private First Class Robert F. Graf (PC 1946); Princeton University Collection (PC 2216).

Transcripts of interviews in Oral History Collection, Marine Corps Historical Center, Washington, D.C: BGen William W. Buchanan; BGen Melvin L. Krulewitch; Col William P. McCahill; MajGen William W. Rogers; LtGen James L. Underhill.

About the Author

Captain John C. Chapin

Captain John C. Chapin earned a bachelor of arts degree with honors in history from Yale University in 1942 and was commissioned later that year. He served as a rifle-platoon leader in the 24th Marines, 4th Marine Division, and was wounded in action during assault landings on Roi-Namur and Saipan.

Transferred to duty at the Historical Division, Headquarters Marine Corps, he wrote the first official histories of the 4th and 5th Marine Divisions. Moving to Reserve status at the end of World War II, he earned a master's degree in history at George Washington University with a thesis on "The Marine Occupation of Haiti, 1915-1922."

Now a captain in retired status, he has been a volunteer at the Marine Corps Historical Center for 10 years. During that time, he wrote History of Marine Fighter-Attack (VMFA) Squadron 115. With support from the Historical Center and the Marine Corps Historical Foundation, he then spent some years researching and interviewing for the writing of a new book, Uncommon Men—The Sergeants Major of the Marine Corps. This was published in 1992 by the White Mane Publishing Company.

insignias from 50th Anniversary

THIS PAMPHLET HISTORY, one in a series devoted to U.S. Marines in the World War II era, is published for the education and training of Marines by the History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, Washington, D.C., as a part of the U.S. Department of Defense observance of the 50th anniversary of victory in that war.

Editorial costs of preparing this pamphlet have been defrayed in part by a bequest from the estate of Emilie H. Watts, in memory of her late husband, Thomas M. Watts, who served as a Marine and was the recipient of a Purple Heart.


Brigadier General Edwin H. Simmons, USMC (Ret)


Benis M. Frank

George C. MacGillivray

Robert E. Struder, Senior Editor; W. Stephen Hill, Visual Information Specialist;
Catherine A. Kerns, Composition Services Technician, R.D. Payne, Volunteer—Web Edition

Marine Corps Historical Center
Building 58, Washington Navy Yard
Washington, D.C. 20374-5040


PCN 190 003124 00

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Commemorative Series produced by the Marine Corps History and Museums Division