From the looks of it, Orange Beach in Peleliu is just one of those ordinary beaches with white sand stretching along the shore and attracting beach lovers but for Peleliu residents and those who are familiar with their history, the beach is a silent witness of one of the fiercest battles fought between the Americans and Japanese forces during the World War 11.
Peleliu World War 11 Museum director Tangie Hesus sat on a fallen log as he animatedly transported us to that fateful morning 62 years ago when the blood of thousands of American soldiers were shed on the beach, tinting the white shores till it was believed the water turned orange, hence the name Orange Beach came to be.A few meters from the beach is the 81st Wild Cat Memorial site but every grave was exhumed in 1947 and the bodies of the soldiers were claimed by their families.
A tour of the island would provide one a view of scattered relics and remnants of the Battle and the Japanese Occupation, depicted in buildings, tanks, planes, battle sites, shrines, monuments and man-made caves used by the Japanese troops during the battle. The World War 11 Museum is housed in an ancient block house built during the Japanese times. A musty smell greets a guest when he enters it, making the experience complete as he goes through alley after alley of war mementos. Japanese and American remnants like machine guns and cannons, broken shards of kitchen ware, water canteens, medicine bottles, helmets and all other reminders line up the walls, each telling their own sad stories about their long-lost owners.
Because of the rich history of the island, the United States Department of Interior designated the place as a National Historic Landmark in 1985.
It was dusk when Tangie, Jun Rodriguez of Palau Horizon and I returned and we were only able to visit the Peleliu WW11 museum, Japanese Shrine, US Marine Memorial at the Bloody Nose Ridge, 81st Wild Cat Memorial and the Orange Beach.
Peleliu island boasts of natural tropical forests and offers so much activities for guests, but it is the history and the deep secret of the island that lures thousands of not only Japanese and Americans but other nationalities as well to visit and see
“Every year, I get to guide a group of war veterans both Americans and Japanese in the island and its touching to see them cry as they reminisce the war they were part of 62 years ago,” Tangie said. He also added that families of slain soldiers visit the place to remember their loved ones who died in the battle.