One of the most controversial operations of World War II in the Pacific was the 1944 invasion of Peleliu. A military historian has analyzed the circumstances and the personalities involved, trying to answer a question that has nagged veterans such as the one pictured here for more than 54 years.
Few World War II veterans of the 1st Marine Division and the Army's 81st Division ever made sense of the awful sacrifices it cost to wrest Peleliu from a stubborn foe entrenched in the badlands of the Umurbrogol, a moonscape known as "Bloody Nose Ridge." Many survivors consider Peleliu's worst legacy to be that their fleet commander, Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr., had recommended canceling the landing at the last moment—only to have the suggestion rejected by Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, commanding the Pacific Fleet and the Pacific Ocean Areas (CinCPac/CinCPOA). Nimitz has since been excoriated for this decision. "CinCPac here made one of his rare mistakes," observed Samuel Eliot Morison in 1963. Three decades later, naval historian Nathan Miller described the event as "Nimitz's major mistake of the war."