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History Unplugged Podcast

with Scott Rank

40 Thieves on Saipan: The Elite Marine Scout-Snipers in One of WWII’s Bloodiest Battles

00:00 38:35
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Before there were Navy SEALs, before there were Green Berets, there were the 40 Thieves: the elite Scout Sniper Platoon of the Sixth Marine Regiment during World War II.


Behind enemy lines on the island of Saipan—where firing a gun could mean instant discovery and death—the 40 Thieves killed in silence during the grueling battle for Saipan, the "D-Day" of the Pacific.


Now Joseph Tachovsky—today's guest and whose father Frank was the commanding officer of the 40 Thieves, also called "Tachovsky's Terrors"—joins with award-winning author Cynthia Kraack to transport readers back to the brutal Battle of Saipan.

World War 2 Marines were the poorest equipped branch of the services at that time, and they were notorious thieves. To improve their odds for victory against the Japanese, they found it necessary to improve their supply chains through “Marine Methods,” stealing. Being the elite of the Sixth Regiment, the Scout-Sniper Platoon excelled at the craft—earning them the nickname of the “40 Thieves” from their envious peers. Upon returning from a 1943 trip to the Pacific theater, Eleanor Roosevelt observed, “The Marines I have met around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marines.”
July 14, 2020
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Meet Your Host
Scott Rank is the host of the History Unplugged Podcast and a PhD in history who specialized in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. Before going down the academic route he worked as a journalist in Istanbul. He has written 12 history books on topics ranging from lost Bronze Age civilizations to the Age of Discovery. Some of his books include The Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages and History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers.. Learn more about him by going to scottrankphd.com.
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