NEWS | Nov. 27, 2017

Combat Assault Company Commemorates 74th Anniversary of the Battle of Tarawa

By Cpl. Jesus Sepulveda Torres Marine Corps Base Hawaii

MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, Hawaii -- To honor the service members that fought in that conflict, Hawaii Marines with Combat Assault Company (CAC), 3rd Marine Regiment, completed a motivational run across Marine Corps Base Hawaii and finished with a ground fighting event at Fort Hase Beach, Nov. 20, 2017.

Leading the Marines during the day’s events was Staff Sgt. Michael Redd, an amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) section leader with the company. He said the three mile run lead pushed the Marines’ endurance and ground fighting stressed their already tired bodies.

“We wanted them to know that as soon as you get to the beach there were no breaks, it was rounds down range and conflict immediately,” he said. “In Tarawa, when they hit the beach, Marines were dying, throwing up and even trying to swim back to the ship.”

Cpl. Victor Soliz, an AAV crew chief with CAC, said the run and beach sparring were very motivating to himself as well as his peers.

“Today was a refresher on our heritage as AAV crewmen and there’s no better example than the Battle of Tarawa,” he said. “We did a run with exercises to feel exhausted by the time we got to the beach, where we did almost non-stop ground fighting. Stories were passed about individual Marines and there heroics, which gives you a more personal perspective of that battle.”

From the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, one such Marine was Staff Sgt. William Bordelon, a combat engineer with 1st Battalion, 18th Marine Regiment, who was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Bordelon, under heavy fire and being severely wounded assaulted four enemy fortifications during a critical phase of the assault that contributed to the victory over the island.

Redd said since that first amphibious engagement, AAV personnel have played a crucial role in many conflicts since.

“On this day the amphibious landing was the center piece of that beach assault,” he said. “I wanted our Marines to understand the importance of the amtrackers–a nickname for amphibious vehicle operators and maintainers—for their critical role for the battle and why their important now.”