Bringing Battle to the Home Front: With the Marines at Tarawa
Will you be watching the Oscars this Sunday? Did you know that a number of films produced by the United States government were nominated or won Academy Awards? One such film is With the Marines at Tarawa, which brought the experience of a major battle to the American public and consequently won the 1945 Academy Award for best documentary short.
With the Marines at Tarawa hit theaters March 2nd, 1944. Sunday’s Oscar broadcast marks the 70th anniversary of the film’s release.
The Unites States Marine Corps fought the Battle of Tarawa over four days in November, 1943. At the end of the battle, nearly a thousand Marines were dead, and over two thousand were wounded. Of those holding the island, there were nearly 4700 casualties. Only seventeen Japanese soldiers surrendered; of about a thousand Korean forced laborers, 129 survived the battle.
Beyond the strategic value of the victory, the battle is significant today because so much of it was caught on film by our combat cameramen. Seeing the footage made the experience real for those on the home front, and serves as a record of the horror of war for those of us who watch it now.
With the Marines at Tarawa was carefully crafted to bring viewers into the experience, from the somber mood during preparation, through the chaos of battle, the overwhelming sadness of counting and caring for the dead, and the sense of accomplishment as the American flag was raised on the island.
In addition, the film focuses on how lives were saved by competent medical personnel and the possibility of blood transfusions, a fact that would have provided hope to those with loved ones on the front lines. Viewers are left with a sense of grief, as well as patriotism in knowing that “our boys” were bravely fighting this “war we did not want.”
Photograph of Marines on Training Maneuvers, 02/13/1944
The Marine Corps perfected the over-the-beach assault during the island-hopping campaigns of World War II. The Marines honed their skills through many practice landings like the one shown in this February 13, 1944, photograph.
A view of the Marine Corps Memorial, 02/06/1987
Photographer: Jane E. Rackley. From the series: Combined Military Service Digital Photographic Files, 1982 - 2007, from the Records of the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
"The old (Pacific) swimmin’ hole. Come on in mates; the water’s fine. And there’s plenty of it between the coast of California and the shores of the Philippines. Coast Guardsmen and Marines "beat the heat" by taking a dip from the side of the ship., 1944"
What’s your favorite way to beat the heat over Labor Day weekend?
Recruiting the first 29
“We hope and have every reason to believe, that the Navajos will play a major role in Marine Corps operations. When the war is over, their story may rank with great sagas of the battlefield.”
August 14, is National Navajo Code Talkers Day, proclaimed in 1982 by President Ronald Reagan for just that reason. The Code Talker story is an incredible war saga. The code developed by these men was never broken by the Japanese, and it was said, at the time, that without them, the Marines would have never taken Iwo Jima.
Read the full story at http://www.archives.gov/locations/calendar/13-august.pdf
Records about the Navajo Code Talkers can be found throughout the National Archives: in the U.S. Marine Corps records in College Park, in the Military Personnel Records in St. Louis, and in the records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Riverside and Washington, D.C. This topic is one of many which allow researchers to explore the National Archives!
Seventy years ago this week, Minnie Spotted Wolf became the first Native American woman to enlist in the United States Marine Corps Women’s Reserve.
Born and raised on a ranch near White Tail Creek, about 15 miles from Heart Butte, Montana, Spotted Wolf stated that growing up doing such ranch work as “cutting fence pots, driving a two-ton truck, and breaking horses” seemed to prepare her for the rigors of Marine Corps boot camp, which she was quoted as saying was “hard, but not too hard.”
This service picture of Minnie Spotted Wolf is from the correspondence files from the Blackfeet Indian Agency (Record Group 75) in the National Archives at Denver, where you can find the photographs of many other Blackfeet who served in the U.S. Armed Forces during WWII.
Image: Minnie Spotted Wolf, Record Group 75, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, ARC 7329402
We also ran another photo of Minnie Spotted Wolf with some of her fellow Marine Corps Women Reservists a few months back.
Surfing—Captain Rodney Bothelo, 1st Shore Party Battalion, and Miss Elli Vade Bon Cowur, Associate Director USO, judges for the OSO sponsored surfing contest held September 25, 1966, are shown with Private First Class Robert D. Binkley, FLSG-B, who took first place in the event; Corporal Tim A. Crowder, Communications Company, Headquarters Battalion, second place winner, and Lance Corporal Steven C. Richardson, 1st medical Battalion, third place winner., 09/25/1966
Happy International Surfing Day!
Free Pre-Screenings of 85th Academy Award® Nominees at the National Archives
The National Archives will host free screenings of the 85th Academy Award® nominees in four categories - Documentary Feature, Documentary Short Subject, Live Action Short Film, and Animated Short Film - in its William G. McGowan Theater from Wednesday, February 20, through Sunday, February 24, 2013. This year marks the ninth consecutive year these screenings have been hosted by the National Archives.
Seating for all screenings will be on a first-come, first-serve basis.and subject to availability. See the full schedule of screenings
What are your Oscar picks?
“On the eleventh day of Archives an archivist brought to me:
Eleven Marine Corps football players,
ten messengers playing poker
Eight Navy officers
seven of Mrs. Hicks’s eight children,
six tiny thorn carvings,
five sisters from Alaska,
four boys hanging out at the Fletcher aircraft school,
three happy girls at a West Virginian celebration,
two San Francisco children painting,
and one astronaut in space.”
Image: Eleven football players who have gained national recognition on the gridiron are now undergoing Marine Corps training at Parris Island, SC. They are left to right, Tommy Davis, Duke; Mike Micka, Colgate; Bert Gianelli, Coll. of Pacific; Elmer Jones, Franklin and Marshall; Alex Agase, Purdue; Pat Preston, Duke; Ralph Heywood, USC; (Backfield) Angelo Bertelli, Notre Dame; John Podesto, Coll. of Pacific; Tony Butkovich, Purdue; Mickey McCardle, USC., 05/1942?
With nearly 3,000 pin-ups (including over 200 shots of Marilyn Monroe) serving as wallpaper for their quonset hut, these Marines of the “Devil-cats” squadron are still looking for more, October 28, 1952