William Monroe Casto
World War II · US Marine Corps · Private First Class
PFC William Monroe Casto Born: 9 May 1922 at Steinback, WV Enlisted: 9 December 1940 at Charleston, WV Company D First Battalion Second Marine Regiment Second Marine Division Fleet Marine Force Gilbert Islands Killed in Action 20 November 1943 - Gun Shot Wound, Abdomen Next of Kin: Mother Mrs. Castella A Legg (c/o Triumph Explosives, Elkton, MD) moved to Four Thompson Circle, Newark, Delaware ****Body Not Recovered**** Memorial Grave Location: Cemetery 33, Plot 13, Row 2, Grave 11, Betio, Tarawa Atoll, Gilbert Islands From November 20 through 23, 1943, the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy carried out Operation GALVANIC, a large-scale amphibious assault on the Japanese-held atoll of Tarawa. Located 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii, Tarawa was a crucial stepping stone in the planned U.S. offensive across the central Pacific toward Japan. The Japanese garrison on Tarawa’s main island of Betio was well-entrenched with hundreds of bunkers and gun positions behind formidable beach obstacles. The first wave of Marines approaching the shore encountered lower-than-expected tides, forcing them to leave their landing craft on the reef and wade the hundreds of yards to the beach under intense enemy fire. The heaviest number of U.S. casualties were suffered during this phase of the landing. Eventually, rising tides allowed U.S. warships to maneuver closer to shore and support the troops with effective naval gunfire. More Marines landed on the second day, launching attacks inland from the beaches and seizing the Japanese airfield on the island. However, the enemy launched vicious counterattacks and two more days of intense fighting were needed to secure Betio. The last enemy strongpoints were taken on the morning of November 23. The fighting on Betio cost the Marines nearly 3,000 casualties but enabled U.S. forces to press further across the Pacific, and yielded valuable tactical lessons that reduced U.S. losses in future amphibious landings. Private First Class William Monroe Casto entered the U.S. Marine Corps from West Virginia and served with Company D, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division. He was killed in action during the Battle of Tarawa on November 20, 1943. Private First Class Casto was buried on Betio Island, but he could not be identified among remains disinterred from the island following the war.
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