View Full Version : Palau president on deck, donates Peleliu artifacts to museum

03-08-08, 06:46 AM
Palau president on deck, donates Peleliu artifacts to museum

By Mr. Joseph R. Chenelly, MCB Quantico

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. (Mar. 8, 2008) -- Palauan President Tommy E. Remengesau was not able to bring the tropical weather from his side of the planet Friday, but he did bring a couple of historical items from one of the bloodiest battles in American history.

In front of a large amphibious landing exhibit in the main lobby of the National Museum of the Marine Corps, Remengesau donated a 37mm antitank round and a metal canteen lost by a World War II Marine on Peleliu, the site of one of the Corps’ bloodiest battles and one of Palu’s 340 North Pacific islands. The artifacts were accepted by Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James T. Conway on behalf of the museum.

‘‘We in Palau thought it was important to return these items to the Marine Corps so that all can remember those who fought,” Remengesau told the Sentry after the brief ceremony. ‘‘I hope people can look at these things and remember the many who died on the island we call Peleliu.”

The Battle of Peleliu, codenamed Operation Stalemate, saw U.S. Marines and soldiers take on an entrenched Japanese force Sept. 15 through Nov. 25, 1944. The 1st Marine Division and the Army’s 81st Infantry Division fought to capture an airstrip on the small coral island. The battle remains one of the war’s most controversial, due to its questionable strategic value and high death toll. When considering the number of men involved, Peleliu had the highest casualty rate of any battle in the Pacific War.

"The battle left Peleliu destroyed – everything flat and burned," Remengesau said. "Now it is replenished with lush vegetation. It is as if the soil was fortified by the blood of those Marines and soldiers who were killed there. It is our responsibility to take care of that sacred ground."

The museum has not yet determined how the artifacts will be used, but officials said they will be readily available to the public.

"Museums exist for the advancement of mankind," said retired Lt. Col. Bob Sullivan, the museum’s curatorial services chief. "These items wouldn’t do any good in a box somewhere."

An American firearm will also be donated by Palau in the coming weeks, Remengesau said. But it did not arrive in the states in time for the ceremony.

The Republic of Palau (pronounced p’lau), is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, some 500 miles east of the Philippines and 2,000 miles south of Tokyo. Having emerged from United Nations trusteeship in 1994, it is one of the world’s youngest and smallest nations.