"They were good Marines, the finest."
"What sticks with me now is not so much the pain and terror and sorrow of the war, though I remember that well enough. What really sticks with me is the honor I had of defending my country, and serving in the company of these men. They were good Marines, the finest, every one of them. You can't say anything better about a man."
R. V. Burgin, 5th Marines, 1st Division, survived over a month of brutal combat during battle of Peleliu Island in 1944. It was supposed to be a "quickie" in and out. But it wasn't. The battle lasted from September 15 to November 27, with nearly 20,000 casualties. Today, you can go to this haunting island and see what is left from that terrible battle in the remains of military equipment, blown out pillboxes, and sometimes even unburied bodies. It is a tragic picture of the reality of war. But is was an island where boys became men and leaders.