Almost 80 years after WWII, a specialized EOD unit from the U.S. Marines have returned to the island of Peleliu, to make it safer. Peleliu, a small island in the archipelago of Palau in modern day Micronesia, was the site of a bloody two-month battle, involving the 1st Marine Division and the Army’s 81st Infantry Division. The 27,000 Americans faced a force of 11,000 Japanese soldiers, who had entrenched themselves into the island with no intention of losing or surrendering. The Japanese had nicknamed the island the “Emperor’s Island.”
The National Museum of the Marine Corps described the battle as “the bitterest battle of the war for the Marines.” Although the Americans outnumbered the Japanese, the way that the Japanese were dug in, made progress painstakingly slow, and costly: U.S. forces suffered almost 10,000 casualties. After the war, it was determined that U.S. forces expended 1,500 rounds of ammunition for every Japanese soldier killed on Peleliu. The Marines and Soldiers utilized over 118,200 hand grenades and 150,000 mortar rounds.
Today, a new and specialized Littoral Explosive Ordnance Neutralization Marine unit has returned to the island of Peleliu, to locate and secure unexploded ordnances from the battle. Their unique training has qualified them to remove ordnances from water or land.
The Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team was formed in September of 2019 and is comprised of eight enlisted Marines and one officer. To expand the team’s capabilities, three Marines are currently attending the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center and Naval School EOD Underwater Division. This four-month course is designed to qualify students in underwater explosive removal. The Marine Corps Times published an in-depth article on this new unit.