Meet the Samoan Unit that Fought Barefoot During WWII


Throughout World Struggle II, Pago Pago, on Tutuila, was a lightly-manned base within the Samoa Islands important to preserving communications between the USA, Australia, and New Zealand. Although the U.S. Navy was tasked with holding it, the seventh Marines had been ordered to fortify the garrison. However they didn’t do it alone.

“The Samoans, who had been American nationals, would assist the seventh defend Tutuila’s 52 sq. miles of mountainous and jungled terrain,” in line with data from the Nationwide Park Service.

Thus, the first Samoan Battalion, Marine Corps Reserve, was based in 1941. They usually didn’t put on footwear.


The Lava-Lava is product of a thick cotton canvas cloth. It’s wrapped across the Marine’s waist and folded tightly in place. A purple sash or cartridge belt keeps it firmly in place. (Assortment of the Nationwide Museum of the Marine Corps)

The five hundred-man reserve unit that patrolled and defended the seashores of Tutuila grew to become often known as the “Barefoot Marines.”

Their uniform featured a kilt-like khaki wraparound which was referred to as a “Lava-Lava” with the Marine Corps insignia sewn on the decrease finish together with rank chevrons. The Marines would pair this with a khaki overlaying and a white shirt.

“Marine uniforms are sometimes appreciated for his or her historical past and refined simplicity,” in line with the Nationwide Museum of the Marine Corps. ” However, in terms of the uniforms of the World Struggle II period, it could be arduous to discover a extra stripped-down or easy ensemble than that of the first Samoan Battalion.”

The battalion was dismantled close to the top of the struggle, and in the summertime of 1945, Pago Pago resumed peacetime operations like serving as a port for refueling, ship restore, climate forecasting, and provide depot.

Initially printed by Navy Occasions, our sister publication.

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