United States Marine Corps
SOUNDING TAPS FOR A FALLEN MARINE
My Father, Ralph Eugene Riley, died June 22, 20l2. He was a decorated Marine who was wounded in action on September l5, l944. He served within the enemy zone of operations in the Pacific Ocean from l942-44 with Company K,3rd Battalion, lst Regiment, lst Marine Division, with the Guadalcanal, New Guinea, Cape Gloucester and Peleliu campaigns. He received both the Presidential and Australian Government Unit Citations for extraordinary heroism in action against the Japanese forces.
Peleliu would be the bitterest battle of the war for the Marines. The Joint Chiefs of Staff regarded the island’s Japanese bomber strip a major threat to General Douglas Mac Arthur’s imminent return to the Philippines. Japanese gunners inflicted l,l00 casualties on the First Marine Division on September l5, l944, the day my father was wounded. Located 420 miles from the Equator temperatures reached ll5 degrees F. The Japanese were well led, heavily armed and virtually invisible.
Uncommon Valor was a common Virtue.
While subsequent enemy losses in the region diminished the danger, the Marines’ mission remained unchanged.
Riflemen of the First Marine Division stormed ashore to Peleliu to encounter a well-armed Japanese force defending 500 caves that honey-combed the coral cliffs of the Umurbrogal Highlands.
It was a nightmarish maze marines soon nicknamed “Bloody Nose Ridge.”
The fighting did little to enhance Mac Arthur’s return to the Philippines and cost the joint forces l0,000 casualties, a price many survivors considered excessive.
America’s first offensive against Japan began August 7, l942 when the First Marine Division assaulted Guadalcanal and Tulagi in the South Solomon Islands.
“God grants liberty only to those who Love it and are always ready to defend it …”
Daniel Webster 1834