[The whole island prepared for the Fifth Marine Division to arrive, and Tuttle helped out.]
I pitched in on the effort a few of the advance party Marines were making to prep for their buddies. Lieutenant Paul Bernard, Sergeant Thurman Price, Jr., and Corporal Francis Seeley were detached from the motor transport battalion to come here early. Their planning work was long done, so now the job was housing the unit until the final launching date. I wasn’t obligated to offer up my labor, but I wanted to hear what they thought about the move. Tent ropes were drawn tight as the conversation got loose.
Corporal Seeley says he’s been keeping up a tide chart, and watching the moon. He used to sail some off Baja California, the nearest ocean surf to Tucson, Arizona. Near the end of this month would have been perfect he says – high tide in the morning coupled with good moonlight most of the night. We could get ashore easiest and then have light to catch the infamous Japanese nighttime infiltration attacks. He saw the aftermath from many of those on Iwo Jima.
Since he spoke like he knew what he was talking about, we let him talk. He thinks the next decent chance isn’t until mid-November. We would only have the counter-moon tide and less moonlight, but otherwise it’s another three weeks before everything comes around perfect again.
I couldn’t argue with the logic, but I offered up what I knew about the losses our Navy took, and wondered aloud how that might affect things. Many destroyers were banged up or grounded in the storm, but there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of them. We are down three big carriers, which may be back in time, and at least two small carriers which will not. The big gun ships mostly did ok, riding out the storm at sea. But the flat bottom assault boats got roughed up bad. They don’t have any good handling abilities in any rough seas. Eight of them are still unaccounted for, presumed lost. With the thirty-six large and hundred-some small transport ships wrecked or put into drydock here in Buckner Bay, that’s over two divisions worth of boats gone. These Marines didn’t seem too worried about it.