Peleliu’s Forgotten World War II Battlefield

Background Information

The essays below will help you to understand the goals and objectives of the mission and provide additional context and information about the places being explored and the science, tools, and technologies being used.

  • Mission Plan

    July 7 - August 2, 2017  |  By Toni Carrell

    Aerial view of UDT operations blasting through the fringing reef.

    At 0800 on September 15, 1944, the first waves of men in 73 amphibious tractors started for the beaches of Peleliu. Within the first hours, the Third Armored Amphibious Tractor Battalion of the U.S. Marine Corps lost two officers, 78 enlisted were wounded, 26 were killed, four were missing, and Marine casualties exceeded 500. Learn more about where the team on this project is going and how they plan to conduct a comprehensive, systematic remote sensing search for the material remains from the Battle of Peleliu.

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  • Amphibious Assault: Key to the World War II Battle for Peleliu

    By Toni Carrell

    The first wave of LVT(A)s move toward the invasion beaches, passing through the inshore bombardment line of LCI gunboats, 15 September 1944.

    After the U.S. entered World War II (WWII) in 1941, military planners quickly developed an island-hopping strategy for a westward push across the Pacific to the Japanese home islands. By the fall of 1944, after the successful capture of the Marianas Islands, the next target was the Palauan chain in the Caroline Islands. Operation Stalemate II, the invasion of Palau, was the last major obstacle to the Philippines and Peleliu was the key.

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  • In and Out of the Water

    By Shawn Arnold

    Marines on two LVT(A)s examine a wrecked LVT that carried men ashore in the assault on Peleliu.

    The Landing Vehicle Tracked (LVT), also known as the amphibious tractor (Amtrac, Amptrac), was essential to U.S. forces during World War II in the Pacific Theater. The vessel possessed the ability to travel both in and out of the water and was one of the first true amphibious vehicles.

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  • Coral Reef Complexity: 3D Biological Characterization Provides New Insights

    By John Burns

    Example of 3D reef reconstructions at multiple scales.

    Coral reefs are architecturally complex three-dimensional (3D) habitats, whose structure is intrinsically linked to the ecosystem biodiversity, productivity, and function. Unfortunately, the field of coral ecology has been limited to using two-dimensional (2D) planar survey techniques for studying coral reef composition and structure. Although this conventional approach is simple to implement, it fails to capture or quantify the intricate structural complexity of corals that influences habitat facilitation and biodiversity. A 3D approach enables accurate measurements of architectural complexity, topography, rugosity, volume, and other structural characteristics that significantly affect biodiversity and abundance of reef organisms.

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  • Tools of the Trade

    By Jennifer McKinnon

    Archaeologists using pencil and Mylar to record World War II sites in Saipan.

    For decades maritime archaeologists relied heavily on simply pencil, Mylar (underwater paper), and measuring tapes to carefully measure and record sites underwater by hand. However, within the last five years, our field has been rapidly changing and adopting emerging digital technologies to quickly, accurately, and completely record archaeological sites.

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  • KOCOA Military Terrain Analysis and the Battle of Peleliu

    By Madeline Roth

    D-Day Landing on the invasion beaches by American forces.

    At Peleliu, both Japanese and American forces relied on the island’s terrain in their decision making. The physical landscape—from the cave systems to ridgelines—played a vital role in the movement of troops and resources across the island. Many of these terrestrial terrain features have been well documented by archaeologists, leading to an in-depth understanding of the battle on the ground.

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