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Old 12-28-2013, 04:37 AM   #1
egonzinc
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PFC Jorge I. Rodriguez, 3/2 Marine Regt., Betio, Tarawa, 11/20/1943

PFC Jorge Ivan Rodriguez
Company M (Weapons Company)
3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment
2nd Marine Division
USS Arthur Middleton, APA-25
Betio, Tarawa Atoll
December 28, 1921- November 20, 1943

Here is a figure/tribute to the Marine uncle of a friend of mine, who at 21, was one of the many that died on the assault on Betio Island, in the Tarawa Atoll, in November of 1943. He would have been 92 today.

First some in action images, on one of my generic Styrofoam bases.




















Here is the figure in its official base, representing the USS Middleton deck.









I want to thank Rafael Rodriguez who provided me with a lot of incredible information about his uncle, PFC Jorge Ivan Rodriguez, the subject of this bash. Also want to thank SAGers RogueJK , pangaloss, andy101506, tflockj and USMCPrice who helped me along the way with great advice on details of US Marine types. Their advice and an old book from my reference library, Bender Publishing’s “USMC Combat Infantry Equipment of WWII” by Alec S. Tulkoff were instrumental in moving this project forward.
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Old 12-28-2013, 04:39 AM   #2
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Re: PFC Jorge I. Rodriguez, 3/2 Marine Regt., Betio, Tarawa, 11/20/1943




















Added a piece of wire (coat hanger) to secure the figure to the base

















Some more information about PFC Rodriguez

Photo of PFC Jorge Ivan Rodriguez




PFC Rodriguez was born in Santo Domingo City in the Dominican Republic. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in New York City, New York on 3 November 1942 and stated that he had prior service in the U.S. military. He listed his residence as New York, New York. PFC Rodriguez listed his mother, Mrs. Clotilde Rodriguez of Ponce, Puerto Rico, as his next of kin. PFC Rodriguez had completed all of the necessary paperwork to receive U.S. Government life insurance. After basic training, PFC Rodriguez was assigned to Company C, Fifth Replacement Battalion, 3rd Marine Brigade in January 1943. On 5 April 1943, he was transferred to Company M, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Division that was assigned to New Zealand for a period of training and refit after participating in the Battle of Guadalcanal. On 1 July 1943, Rodriguez was promoted from Private to Private First Class.
The 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines was designated to land on Red Beach 1 during the invasion of Tarawa. PFC Rodriguez’ battalion was transported from their training bases in New Zealand to Tarawa on board the USS Arthur Middleton, APA-25.

An image of the USS Arthur Middleton

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Last edited by egonzinc; 12-28-2013 at 04:43 AM.
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Old 12-28-2013, 04:39 AM   #3
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Re: PFC Jorge I. Rodriguez, 3/2 Marine Regt., Betio, Tarawa, 11/20/1943

PFC Rodriguez’ unit (M Company, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Division) was the battalion’s weapons unit and armed primarily with machine guns and mortars. He landed with his fellow Marines at about 0910 hours on the morning of the first day of the invasion, 20 November 1943, at a position on Red Beach 1 known as the “Bird’s Beak”. His company received heavy casualties during the landing including the loss of five of its seven officers who were either wounded or killed.

The circumstances of PFC Rodriguez’ death is completely unknown. PFC Rodriguez is listed in Chaplain Willard’s log book and his date of death is noted in that record. There is no notation in any of his records for either a cause of death or burial location other than a “memorial grave”, which is not an actual burial site. Both the Graves Registration Unit report of January 1944 and the island commander, Captain Gould, in his report of June 1944 list his burial location as “unknown”.
A preponderance of the evidence indicates that PFC Rodriguez was killed during the first day of the invasion on November 20, 1943 when he attempted to land on Red Beach 1 with his assigned unit in an area known as the “Bird’s Beak”. Chaplain Willard lists PFC Rodriguez in his log book with a date of death which supports the fact that someone reported observing PFC Rodriguez’s death to the chaplain. An absence of information in PFC Rodriguez’ records pertaining to a cause of death indicates that his was likely a hasty burial under fire on the battlefield. His burial was probably intended to be a temporary grave and its location was likely lost during the chaos of battle and its aftermath. If that was the case, the remains of PFC Rodriguez still lie on Tarawa today.

For this figure, I used a recent DID nude body, reduced at the shoulders and shortened at the thighs and calves. PFC Rodriguez was 5’6”, 162 lbs. All the uniforms pieces and equipment are DML, except the web belt, which I believe is from DID. Must admit that getting just a few elements on the cloth waist belt was almost 2 hours work! I did it, but still not sure what is the way to do it, as in my case it was more trial and error than technique! It is the first time I use a cloth waist belt, and I remember how tough it was to get the items on the rubbery belts, but was not easier at all!
Replaced the plastic stubs with CVI lift dot castings on the equipment.
He is wearing the light marching pack set up (thanks USMCPrice) He is carrying the tripod and cradle for the .30 caliber water cooled M1917 Browning machine gun used by the weapons company of the battalion.
I decided to depict him just as he would have been on his transport ship, the USS Arthur Middleton, just before going over the side to get on the LVT that would take him towards Betio as part of the first wave of the assault. So I made a base trying to represent the ship’s deck. Looks very new as the USS Middleton had been damaged and refurbished a sort time before the attack on Tarawa. Used black styrene and some scrap parts from the parts box to make the base. Painted with the air gun and then added some depth with dry brushing. Placed this piece on a wooden base on which my wife tried out, successfully, her new router for the edge! Later I decided to try some in action images on one of my Styrofoam bases and included some of these also as I really liked how they turned out!
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Old 12-28-2013, 11:06 AM   #4
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Re: PFC Jorge I. Rodriguez, 3/2 Marine Regt., Betio, Tarawa, 11/20/1943

Excellent figure Eduardo and exceptional work! Great detail throughout. Your representation of Rafael's uncle is top notch and very classy!
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Old 12-28-2013, 12:05 PM   #5
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Re: PFC Jorge I. Rodriguez, 3/2 Marine Regt., Betio, Tarawa, 11/20/1943

Impressive and accurate build Eduardo. I like everything about him. Thank you for this fine tribute to PFC Rodriguez.


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Old 12-28-2013, 04:44 PM   #6
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Re: PFC Jorge I. Rodriguez, 3/2 Marine Regt., Betio, Tarawa, 11/20/1943

Outstanding figure.
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Old 12-28-2013, 06:03 PM   #7
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Re: PFC Jorge I. Rodriguez, 3/2 Marine Regt., Betio, Tarawa, 11/20/1943

That should be a boxed figure! DML, DiD hint, hint. Outstanding work. Awesome tribute.
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Old 12-31-2013, 04:35 AM   #8
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Re: PFC Jorge I. Rodriguez, 3/2 Marine Regt., Betio, Tarawa, 11/20/1943

Well done, Eduardo!

If possible - you should switch out the post-war carbine to one without the bayonet lug. The bayonet lug was added really late in the war (sometime in 1945).

Great figure though! Love the head sculpt you chose - looks All-American!

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Old 12-31-2013, 07:11 AM   #9
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Re: PFC Jorge I. Rodriguez, 3/2 Marine Regt., Betio, Tarawa, 11/20/1943

Nice, nice work Eduardo!

I was going to say the same about swapping out the post war carbine with the bayonet lug. Also the M1916 Colt holster for the 1911 pistol did not use a "lift the dot" fastener, just a small brass post similar to what was already on the holster you used. With ammo being initially more important than first aid, I might move the first aid kit to the rear of the belt and bring the carbine clip pouch to the front for ease of access.

I've never seen a picture of a Marine carrying his K-Bar on his pack (I wasn't there and i'm not saying it didn't happen) it's just a lot more common to wear it on the belt since the pack will end up being removed at some point.

Although it would not necessarily be incorrect to keep the ones you have, you could also consider changing a least one of the canteen covers to the Marines specific "dog ear" crossed flap cover.

Steve

http://www.ebay.com/itm/VTG-WWI-M191...8FHHVTcN71MXk%
253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557 (1911 Holster)

http://www.ebay.com/itm/WWII-USMC-Cr...p2047675.l2557 (Crossed flap canteen cover)

Last edited by krakow; 12-31-2013 at 07:18 AM.
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Old 12-31-2013, 02:48 PM   #10
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Re: PFC Jorge I. Rodriguez, 3/2 Marine Regt., Betio, Tarawa, 11/20/1943

Nice work and tribute! Always love the Pacific campaign.
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Old 12-31-2013, 06:25 PM   #11
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Re: PFC Jorge I. Rodriguez, 3/2 Marine Regt., Betio, Tarawa, 11/20/1943

awesome memorial Eduardo !
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Old 12-31-2013, 08:28 PM   #12
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Re: PFC Jorge I. Rodriguez, 3/2 Marine Regt., Betio, Tarawa, 11/20/1943

As I said before, an excellent tribute, and focused in on this single figure, it shows your skills. The head sculpt is very well chosen.
Just last night, I was talking to another hobbyist, and he started describing a figure he was going back for another look at, tho he couldn't remember who'd done it. The minute he described the uniform, I told him it was yours.
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Old 12-31-2013, 10:50 PM   #13
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Re: PFC Jorge I. Rodriguez, 3/2 Marine Regt., Betio, Tarawa, 11/20/1943

Outstanding fig E....
Im sure there are lots of folks that would love to have such a fig in their collection...not to mention what it means to the person this is going to.
Nice story line as well.
Great job brother!
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Old 01-03-2014, 12:31 AM   #14
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Re: PFC Jorge I. Rodriguez, 3/2 Marine Regt., Betio, Tarawa, 11/20/1943

Superb work Eduardo, an excellent representation of a Tarawa Marine. 3/2 or 3rd Battalion Second Marines (in Marine Corps parlance the term Marines when used in a unit designation always means a regiment) is still known as the "Betio Bastards". Betio being the actual island assaulted in Tarawa atoll.



IMHO, you didn't just capture the details, you also captured the spirit, a much harder thing to accomplish. Again, simply outstanding.
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Old 01-03-2014, 12:56 AM   #15
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Re: PFC Jorge I. Rodriguez, 3/2 Marine Regt., Betio, Tarawa, 11/20/1943

Agree with the above, your knife is generally always going to be on your first line of equipment. Also might swap the ammo pouch and medic pouch as ammo access would have been priority when setting up your kit.
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Old 01-03-2014, 07:38 PM   #16
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Re: PFC Jorge I. Rodriguez, 3/2 Marine Regt., Betio, Tarawa, 11/20/1943

Quote:
Originally Posted by andy101506 View Post
Agree with the above, your knife is generally always going to be on your first line of equipment. Also might swap the ammo pouch and medic pouch as ammo access would have been priority when setting up your kit.
There is a fair amount of logic in swapping the first aid and ammo pouches, however virtually all units had SOP's that specified where the first aid pouch would be worn. This varied from unit to unit and was intended to facilitate the rapid treatment of casualties.
It was SOP for the Corpsman to use the casualties own battle dressing first when treating their wounds, this was so that the Corpsman wouldn't exhaust the dressings he carried and because it would be inefficient for a casualty to be treated with the Corpsman's dressing and then have the casualty evacuated to the rear with a perfectly serviceable dressing in the pouch on his belt, that might be needed to treat other casualties. So if a unit prescribed that the pouch be carried on the left front of the cartridge, rifle or pistol belt, everyone carried it in the same place so when that units Corpsman came upon a casualty he'd immediately know to look there for the dressing.
Another consideration would be that when firing from the prone the ammo pouch would be more easily accessed if it was on the right, rear hip (I know the figure has it on the left rear, but he might be left handed). Also, his primary combat duty would be to assist the machine gunner, as he is carrying the tripod, he would not be using his carbine unless the enemy were threatening to overrun his position or he was providing security for the gun team and another Marine was functioning as A-gunner. He is also equipped with a pistol, it's mag pouch is located in the front, a pistol is seldom fired from the prone, and it would most likely be his initial go-to weapon if the Marine was functioning as an A-gunner and his position was threatened. Remember, his primary combat function and the position where he is most efficient in killing the enemy is when assisting the machine gunner.

I would also suggest that his carrying the K-Bar on his haversack is not necessarily wrong and is plausible. Initially, after the K-Bar's introduction riflemen were issued the bayonet, and those rating a pistol or carbine the combat utility knife (as already pointed out the carbine did not initially have a bayonet lug). The second descriptive word "utility" describes what the K-Bar is used for 99% of the time. It is an excellent combat/fighting knife, but opening c-rats, chopping wood, cutting rope and wire, etc. is what it is most often used for. The bayonet was used for these functions also, but was not as good at the utility functions. Riflemen very routinely carried their bayonets attached to their pack. An example:



I personally would want it on my belt, but he's already got a lot of stuff hanging there and based upon priority he did it right, pistol, ammo, then water, then medical supplies. Seems correct to me.

Last edited by USMCPrice; 01-05-2014 at 01:30 AM.
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Old 01-04-2014, 10:26 PM   #17
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Re: PFC Jorge I. Rodriguez, 3/2 Marine Regt., Betio, Tarawa, 11/20/1943

Thanks for all the great feedback. As for changing the equipment, there is no way I will visit that belt again!
I now have all the images with the bayonet lug removed digitally by a friend of mine who loves to mess around with images digitally.
This thread is now part of my Marine reference files and will come in very handy for future projects.
Thanks again to all who helped this project along.
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Old 01-06-2014, 01:51 PM   #18
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Re: PFC Jorge I. Rodriguez, 3/2 Marine Regt., Betio, Tarawa, 11/20/1943

Quote:
Originally Posted by amaral View Post
Just a question. I was told recently that the machine-gunner would actually carry the tripod, and the assistant would carry the machine-gun. The reasoning behind this was that the gunner could thus choose the best placement for the tripod (and consequently the machine-gun). I heard this while I was discussing a WWII US Army machine-gun team.

What are your thoughts about this?

ZP
I have seen that mentioned in one source. It was not, however, the servicewide SOP for machine gunners, as taught in infantry school. The method you mention may or may not have been adopted on a limited basis for some units, but both US Army and Marine Corps TOE's specified a machinegun squad leader, normally, a corporal, and he was responsible selecting the location of the gun.

Second, the method you mention would have required the gunner and a-gunner to swap positions during employment, not a good idea. It's much smoother for the squad leader to point out the spot, the a-gunner places the tripod facing the azmith of fire, the gunner slides the pintle into the tripod and gets down behind the gun opening the feed tray cover, in the mean time the a-gunner has opened an ammo can and has the initial belt ready to load, he feeds the tab through, the gunner holds the tab in place, when the ammo belt is properly aligned the a-gunner strikes the feed tray cover fully closing and locking it, the gunner then pulls the charging handle to the rear, returns it fully forward and repeats a second time. Commence firing.
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Old 03-16-2014, 12:23 AM   #19
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Re: PFC Jorge I. Rodriguez, 3/2 Marine Regt., Betio, Tarawa, 11/20/1943

This a really great tribute figure Eduardo - I particularly like the deck of the APA.

The vignette about PFC Rodriguez was interesting as well. Really nice write up.

It's far more likely though, that he either died wading in from the reef either from enemy fire or drowning, or that his remains were not in one piece, than burial in a shallow grave in combat. Tarawa was vicious and fast paced. 3/2's two lead companies took 50% casualties in the first two hours. The battle was over in three days, and there were far too many dead to bury them in the midst of the fighting.
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Old 03-16-2014, 03:36 PM   #20
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Re: PFC Jorge I. Rodriguez, 3/2 Marine Regt., Betio, Tarawa, 11/20/1943

Eduardo,
Great work, Great tribute! I had a couple questions but I think I should read some of these posts before I ask. Awesome. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 03-16-2014, 05:33 PM   #21
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Re: PFC Jorge I. Rodriguez, 3/2 Marine Regt., Betio, Tarawa, 11/20/1943

Very nicely done, and great history to go with him. Thanks for sharing, Eduardo.
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Old 03-17-2014, 12:13 AM   #22
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Re: PFC Jorge I. Rodriguez, 3/2 Marine Regt., Betio, Tarawa, 11/20/1943

Thanks again.
From the reports by the chaplain, I would say he made it to shore. He was also in a group using LVTs that did not have the clearance problem with the reef. The likely scenario is that he was buried in a temporary grave and that spot was lost along the craziness of the first days on Betio. If he had drowned, the report would have probably said that had disappeared, and that was not the case.
I decided on the boat deck as the base just for the reason of not knowing what had happened once on shore. If there had been any reports of him in action once on shore, I would have gone with a heavily weathered figure and a beach base.
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Last edited by egonzinc; 03-17-2014 at 12:17 AM.
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Old 03-26-2014, 01:01 PM   #23
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Re: PFC Jorge I. Rodriguez, 3/2 Marine Regt., Betio, Tarawa, 11/20/1943

Eduardo, Have you seen the AHC new series "Against All Odds"? The one about Tarawa is awesome and would explain what may have happened to Jorge.
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Old 03-26-2014, 06:36 PM   #24
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Re: PFC Jorge I. Rodriguez, 3/2 Marine Regt., Betio, Tarawa, 11/20/1943

Yes I saw that series as well and they said the first two waves of Amtracs were targeted with anti boat guns ( high caliber). The LVT1s were lightly armored if at all. If you watch the film of the landing you see many fireballs of LVTs going up in flames. Could he have burned to death? The film said at least 50% of the LVTs were destroyed with most aboard.
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Old 03-29-2014, 01:14 PM   #25
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Re: PFC Jorge I. Rodriguez, 3/2 Marine Regt., Betio, Tarawa, 11/20/1943

Quote:
Originally Posted by thetoysurgeon View Post
Yes I saw that series as well and they said the first two waves of Amtracs were targeted with anti boat guns ( high caliber). The LVT1s were lightly armored if at all. If you watch the film of the landing you see many fireballs of LVTs going up in flames. Could he have burned to death? The film said at least 50% of the LVTs were destroyed with most aboard.

The problem with the shows on AHC and History Channel, before they became reality TV, is they put out so much bad information. I watched the AHC show on Hue and was so disgusted by the bad information I didn't finish watching it. The crap got so deep I felt like rolling up my trouser legs.


All the LVT's at Tarawa, both LVT-1's and 2's had 3/8 inch armor added to the front hull and cab.


Only eight tracs in the first three waves were knocked out, some on the sea wall when they tried to climb it. It was the later waves that took such a beating. The first waves arrived essentially intact and that has been listed as a key reason the landings eventually succeeded. Additional tracs sank when they returned to ferry in following waves having been riddled with holes on the run in, while trying to cross the wall and on the run back out to the reef.


Quote:
the LVTs performed their assault mission fully within Julian Smith's expectations. Only eight of the 87 vehicles in the first three waves were lost in the assault (although 15 more were so riddled with holes that they sank upon reaching deep water while seeking to shuttle more troops ashore). Within a span of 10 minutes, the LVTs landed more than 1,500 Marines on Betio's north shore, a great start to the operation.
"Across the Reef", Col. JH Alexander, USMC (ret)

The tracs went back to the reef where they met up with landing boats, troops were transferred across and the tracs returned to the beach. Many made this exposed trip numerous times. A lot of tracs were disabled when waves swamped the engine compartment with sea water. More had gotten hung up trying to cross the wall. Most tracks knocked out by gunfire were due to multiple hits by 40mm and 25mm machine cannon. The later waves suffered much more heavily than the initial three.

During the entire 76 hours of the battle most amtracs were lost or disabled, 90 of the 125 committed. 2d Amphibious Tractor Bn did suffer 50% casualties, killed, wounded, missing, but many of these men had been serving as riflemen after abandoning their disabled vehicles. This 50% casualty rate is probably where the program got their 50% of amtracs lost figure. However, as noted earlier this was over the entire 76 hour battle, not the initial waves, and many were not in or with their LVT's when hit.
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