PELELIU, A TRIP TO A HORRIFIC PAST (Part 1)

One of the targets for the Palau trip was a tour of Peleliu. I have read a lot of World War II history, more documentaries than I can count and throughout my life have been fascinated with WWII. I also enjoy touring the more remote historical locations, where the antiseptic aura of the well kept museum is not present.

Peleliu is one of those place. We booked a boat tour with Sam’s Tours and headed out early in the morning. I was hopeful, the weather looked good.

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It was an hour ride with a single rough spot where rain threatened, but as we approached the island, the sky was clear. As we scooted along I noticed a large object on the reef. I didn’t have time to swap to my 70-200mm and we did not have time to swing out there, so here is the poor shot of a Japanese concrete “ship” resting on the reef. The Japanese built it with the hopes of drawing American ships close to the reef. To me it seems like one of those ideas where a bunch of officers are sitting around brainstorming .. one of those “no idea is too stupid” type of sessions. Only in this case, they obviously missed the joke.

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Our engines started to sputter, and the captain stopped to have a look which gave me a calm moment to take this shot. Two observations from our guide:

The reason why the Japanese picked Peleliu is because it is the only flat island in the area.

If you look carefully you can see a few floating bottles … floating from Indonesia was the explanation (with a trace of animosity clearly present)

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A closer shot. The Americans thought the island looked flat too (they were wrong).

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As we approached the dock, we passed fisherman wading near the reef.

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This is a small island with roughly 500 locals. The kind of place where everyone knows everyone.

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We disembarked, ready to learn the island’s dark history.

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