The Foundation
Camp Tarawa Tour
2nd and 5th Division 

Camp Tarawa Detachment Marine Corps League #1255

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  Morning Colors 2nd Marine Division-Camp Tarawa 1944.
Page updated August 31, 2023
5th Marine Division band. Bob Crosby, Bing Crosby's brother, had a small dixieland band that played for special functions.
Photo by Marine Photographer, Richard Stotz
Camp Tarawa (note the small volcano called Buster Brown in the background) is about the same size as Mount Suribachi where the Marines raised the flag on the 5th day of the 36-day battle. The Marines of the 5th Division climbed it almost daily in training.
Waimea had a population of only 450 people in1943-1945; approximately 25,000 Marines moved next door following the battle at Tarawa, and after the 2nd Division left for Saipan and Tinian, the 5th Division arrived in Waimea with another 25,000 Marines. The Marines and Seabees brought electricity, water storage,and refrigeration giving the local kids the first ice cream they had ever had.The locals invited the Marines into their homes and gave luaus and converted some buildings into USO’s and invited them to their rodeo.
Camp Tarawa was named for the famous battle the 2nd Marine Division fought and was now training for the Saipan-Tinian battles.
Roscoe, an African lion, was the mascot of the 28th Regiment. Click here for story and more photos.
Marine Color Guard, Parker Rodeo 1945
Aloha & Semper Fi
Attention all Big Island Marines and Navy Corpsmen - The Camp Tarawa Detachment #1255 MCL needs you to help us share the history of the 50,000 Marines and Navy Corpsmen who trained at Camp Tarawa during WWII in preparation for decisive battles on Saipan, Tinian, and Iwo Jima.

The Marine Corps League 
All Marines, past present, FMF Corpsmen, and FMF Navy Chaplines and family members and supporters of Marines are welcome to join us to see if you have an interest in our group.

‘In person’ and online meetings are on hold. We are planning for the Marine Corps Birthday meeting in November. For more information contact Kathy Painton 808 880-9880
The Camp Tarawa Detachment of the Marine Corps League is named after the Battle for Tarawa, a tiny atoll two miles long and a half-mile wide, where it took 18,000 Marines and Navy Corpsmen from the 2nd Marine Division only 76 hours to defeat the Japanese defenders on the atoll. More than1,000 Marines and Navy Corpsmen died and 2,000 were wounded to achieve this victory.

A Marine base was established on Parker Ranch land in Waimea and the 2nd Marine Division was brought to the Big Island in December 1943 so the men could have a place to recuperate after the battle on Tarawa and to train for the Saipan - Tinian campaigns. They named the base “Camp Tarawa” in remembrance of the famous battle fought on the island.

After the 2nd Marine Division left, the 5th Marine Division moved from Camp Pendleton to Camp Tarawa to continue training for the assault on Iwo Jima.