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Naval and Marine battle planners calculate a tidal water depth of five feet over Tarawa's reef, allowing safe passage for landing craft. But those numbers prove fatally wrong. Hung up on the razor sharp coral, the boats are set ablaze by Japanese artillery and mortar shelling. Marines jump out, struggling under machine gun fire to make their way to shore.
3,166 Marines are casualties. This sparks off a storm of protest in the United States, where the high losses can not be understood for such a tiny and seemingly unimportant island in the middle of nowhere.
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