On November 20, 1943 the United States launched Operation Galvanic - the amphibious assault on Tarawa Atoll in the Gilbert Islands. The largest island of the atoll is Betio. The 2nd Marine Division's 2nd Marine Regiment was the lead assault force. Then-Colonel David Shoup had taken command of the regiment just eleven days before.
After a brief naval bombardment, our Marines stormed ashore. Their first enemy was nature; the tides had been miscalculated, meaning that there was not enough clearance for landing craft to pass over the reefs. Instead of landing on the beach, many had to slog through the surf dragging their equipment under enemy fire. Once ashore, our forces faced the most tenacious and heavily dug-in Japanese defenders yet. Throughout the battle, one man stood taller than the rest, ignored his own wounds, and led his Marines to victory.
From Medal of Honor Citations for World War II: