On September 15, 1944, the US First Marine Division landed on a small island in the Central Pacific called Peleliu as a prelude to the liberation of the Philippines. Among the first wave of Marines that hit the beach that day was 22-year-old George Peto.
Growing up on a farm in Ohio, George always preferred being outdoors and exploring. This made school a challenge, but his hunting, fishing, and trapping skills helped put food on his family’s table. As a poor teenager living in a rough area, he got into regular brawls, and he found holding down a job hard because of his wanderlust. After working out West with the CCC, he decided that joining the Marines offered him the opportunity for adventure plus three square meals a day; so he and his brother joined the Corps in 1941.
Following boot camp and training, he was initially assigned to various guard units, until he was shipped out to the Pacific and assigned to the 1st Marines. His first combat experience was the landing at Finschhaven, followed by Cape Gloucester. Then as a Forward Observer, he went ashore in one of the lead amtracs at Peleliu and saw fierce fighting for a week before the regiment was relieved due to massive casualties. Six months later, his division became the immediate reserve for the initial landing on Okinawa.