March 1979

Gas: Silent and Humane Warrior

Volume 63, Issue 3

Professional Note

The 4,000 Japanese Imperial Marines on Betio, a small Pacific island in the Tarawa group, were securely dug in. They had constructed extensive fortifications to withstand the imminent American assault on the island. The U.S. attack fleet lay at anchor several miles away, and the Japanese defenders knew that soon the American planes and gunfire would begin their relentless softening-up operation, dumping thousands of tons of explosives on the tiny island.

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