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thedrifter
04-30-09, 08:04 AM
Soldiers of sea apply WWII lessons to survey beach for amphibious landing on Okinawa

4/24/2009 By Consolidated Public Affairs Office Okinawa , Marine Corps Bases Japan

CAMP SCHWAB, OKINAWA, Japan — They brave the tip of the spear surveying a path for war.

Armed with M16 assault rifles and riding in motorized rubber rafts known as zodiacs, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion Marines conducted hydro-graphic survey training at a beach on Camp Schwab April 13.

Although a survey might conjure images of clipboards or pens, gadgets or gizmos, the Marine Corps adds a sense of James Bond-esque excitement.

Essentially, the reconnaissance Marines were mapping out dangers posed to landing craft approaching the beach from the water.

With swift-silent-deadly accuracy they moved to their location off the coast.

Once in position, an advance team of four Marines slipped themselves into the water and swam to the beach to secure it. The remaining Marines, tethered to a line to maintain even distance from each other, surveyed the depth and consistency of the ocean bed looking for obstacles that might impede the traffic of vessels during an assault. After collecting information on their points, the entire line of Marines moved to the left or right. The process was repeated several times to form a readable grid in order to map out an approach.

"The Marines check for composition of the sea floor - depth, slope, and record the sea action," said Staff Sgt. Brandon Gilbert, platoon sergeant for Company A, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division. "We conduct these surveys to ensure the beaches we are landing on will not mess up our vehicles."

The Marines applied lessons learned during World War II when amphibious assault landings were in their infancy.

In battles such as Tarawa, amphibious landing craft got hung up on coral far from the beach. This forced the assaulting Marines to wade long distances through dangerous coral and mine-laden surf. The exposure increases their risk of being cut-down by enemy machine-gun and mortar fire.

According to Gilbert, dangers such as coral, mines and sandbars are still what Marines look for today.

While other members of the team remained in the water, the advance team lay in wait on the beach; ready to ambush enemy soldiers patrolling near the insertion point.

Ellie