In August 1942 the 2nd Marine “Raider” Battalion raided what was then called Makin Island in the Gilbert Archipelago of the South Pacific. The present name of the island is Butaritari in the island nation of Kiribati.
In 1942 the island had a small, roughly 160 man garrison, and was the site of a Japanese Airfield. The raid was conceived as a way for the Marines to gather intelligence on what and how many Japanese forces were stationed in the Gilbert Islands. The plan was for 211 men from companies A and B of the 2nd Marine “Raider” Battalion led by LTC Evans Carlson to land on the island under cover of darkness, neutralize the small Japanese garrison and ransack the island for anything of intelligence value before destroying the facilities and leaving the island. The Marines would land from two submarines the USS Nautilus and USS Argonaut using small rubber boats equipped with outboard motors.