No. That side was impenetrable. Swamp. Cliffs. The jungle itself added more protection to that side with thick stands of trees, vines, dense undergrowth, snakes, and biting bugs. No that side stood guarded by nature herself. The Japanese laid their lines with care, precision, control, and pride. The jungle was theirs. This Atoll was theirs. Their lines encircled them, opening only on that side. The side with the cliffs. The side with the swamps. The side with sucking clay. The side the jungle guarded. No need. That side was impenetrable.
Moldy. Damp. Rusting, rotting came the Marines.
They charged the swamp.
They charged the cliff.
They took on the jungle itself.
Don’t tell a Marine where he can and can’t go.
No! They can’t come this way. The jungle guards our back.
The exhausted, beaten marines came.
They came and they took the path that wasn’t there. They came together, as one, battling, screaming, firing. Each one encouraged his brother. Up! Up! Up!
The Japanese believed it impossible. The Marines showed them nothing was. The Japanese thought the jungle had their back. They had yet to understand that these wild men—stubborn, fierce, and brave—bent the jungle to their own wills, swamp, cliff, and clay.
Up the precipice the boys went, atrophied with damp. They took the Atoll.
They took the jungle.
The Marines went the way everyone thought they couldn’t, and the day was theirs.
–Inspired by “Buse ordered his men up and they went up. They went up in a sudden burst of energy and valor as mystifying as it was marvelous. They clawed up that vertical face of gummy clay and came in on the startled enemy and put him to death among his guns.” from Strong Men Armed by Robert Leckie.