A side trip that was taken by a handful of the Nat Geo explorers was to visit the small island of Peleliu, about 45 minutes by boat from the main island in the Palau group. This had special meaning for me, as my father as a Marine had been in the battle of Peleliu in the fall of 1944. He was awarded the Silver Star for his actions in saving 49 Koreans from almost certain death.
The statistics are sobering: of the 12,500 Japanese military and almost 5,000 conscripted laborers from Okinawa and Korea, less than 400 were taken alive by the Americans as POWs. The remainder perished in one of the bloodiest conflicts of the war. The Peleliu War Museum is being restored and modernized through the efforts of a couple of people, including a retired Marine officer, David McQuillen, who moved to Peleliu 4 years ago after his retirement from military service.
Here is the citation supporting the Silver Star awarded to my father.
William A. Linton , Jr.
Place of Birth: Korea, Kunsan
Home of record: Decatur Georgia
AWARDS AND CITATIONS
Awarded for actions during World War II.
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Second Lieutenant William A. Linton, Jr. (MCSN: 0-26230), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity as Language Officer of the Intelligence Section of the FIRST Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Peleliu, Palau Islands, on 10 October 1944. Voluntarily requesting and gaining permission to enter fiercely-defended enemy territory in order to obtain the surrender of a large number of Koreans reported to be in caves in front of our lines, Second Lieutenant Linton risked ambush by entering and exploring two caves of great depth.
Encountering two groups of Koreans who could have cut him off from aid if they had chosen to attack him, he employed his fluent command of the Korean language and, through skillful persuasion, effected the surrender of both groups. Conducting the entire group of forty-nine through our lines, Second Lieutenant Linton obtained information from these prisoners which proved to be of material intelligence value to our forces. His skill, initiative and courageous devotion to duty in the face of grave personal danger reflect great credit on Second Lieutenant Linton and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
General Orders: Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force Pacific: Serial 00422
Action Date: October 10, 1944
Service: Marine Corps
Rank: Second Lieutenant
Company: Intelligence Section
Division: 1st Marine Division