On Feb. 17, 1944, the U.S. assault on a now-forgotten atoll in the Pacific begins. The battle for Eniwetok, a small northwest point of the Marshall Islands, forms part of the island-hopping strategy to overtake Japan. It’s north of Guadalcanal, won a year earlier, and due east of Guam, which would be retaken five months later.
Tiny Engebi island is key because it holds a Japanese airstrip that allows the enemy to refuel. After U.S. gunships pound the terrain, 15 Marines with the 22nd regiment and one photographer with Life magazine are the first ashore. George Strock is “actually … on the beach taking pictures of the initial assault and greeting the landing troops” as they arrive, reports Marine First Lt. John M. Popham of Brooklyn, a public relations officer. Continue reading