Eavesdropping On The Rising Sun

A young man from Queens jumps into the thick of World War II intelligence activities by translating secret Japanese messages

IN HIS MARVELOUS MEMOIR, Flights of Passage, my friend and onetime colleague Samuel Hynes, a Marine Corps combat aviator in World War II, writes that the war is the shared secret of his generation—those young men who came of age between December 7, 1941, and September 2, 1945. For those of the approximately 12 million Americans in uniform for some or all of those years, it was an experience both personal and collective like nothing before or after. Those who went through the hell of combat carry physical and emotional scars as reminders.Read more »

World War II 1941 To 1945

Those Yanks of World War II are white-haired now. Great-grandchildren play about their feet. The grand parades and great commemorations are over. Only a few monuments to their achievements are yet to be built. But we can still see them as they were, striking the casual pose, caps and helmets tilted toward the big adventure, cigarettes dangling from a smile. The picture is all innocence.Read more »

My Father And I And Saburo Sakai

Half a century after his father’s death, he struck up an extraordinary friendship with a man who had been there

My quest began sometime shortly after World War II. I was a young boy when my maternal grandfather told me the story of how my father, Lt. Col. Francis R. Stevens, had been killed in the skies over New Guinea. In the spring of 1942 Dad was assigned to OPD, Operations Division in the War Department, what Col. Red Reeder, who replaced Dad a few months later, referred to as General Marshall’s command post. Gen. George C. Marshall, chief of staff of the U.S. Army, was concerned that he was not getting a clear enough picture of Gen.Read more »

Farthest Forward

Tough, nimble, and pound for pound the most heavily
armed ships in the U.S. Navy, PT boats fought in the very
front line of the greatest sea war in history. But even
today hardly anyone understands what they did.

One night in August 1943 PT-105 was drifting on station in the Solomon Islands—specifically, two miles southeast of Vella Lavella, three miles north of Gizo, and fifteen miles west of Kolombangara, all of which were enemy-occupied. As a matter of fact, other than the PT boat lying close on my port quarter and a couple of coastwatchers hiding out in the hills, there was not a friendly of any sort within fifty miles. My legs ached from hours of standing on a hard, constantly moving, sometimes bouncing deck.

 
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Sea Dogs

They padded aboard submarines and proved themselves steadfast in boredom and in battle. During the worst of war these canine mascots brought their shipmates some of the comfort of home.

SAILORS HAVE BEEN TAKING DOGS TO SEA SINCE A PAIR OF canines shipped out with Noah. Nevertheless, the picture of the floppy-eared poodle, looking as jaunty and confident as the young submariners who surrounded her, surprised me. What was the dog’s name? I wondered. Why was it on a submarine? A scrawl on the back of the photo revealed only that this was the crew of the USS Whale after its return from its eighth war patrol in the Pacific. Read more »

A Short Walk On Guadalcanal

J. L. O. Tedder missed the battle, but his peacetime pursuits are heroic enough

Every so often one comes across a writer who should be awarded the literary equivalent of the Victoria Cross or the Medal of Honor—one who gazes into the jaws of a hellish assignment and goes forward, resolute paragraph after resolute paragraph, knowing that there is no light at the end of the tunnel, that the end will be cruel and the reward negligible. Read more »

The Biggest Theater

Revisiting the seas where American carriers turned the course of history, a Navy man re-creates a time of frightful odds and brilliant gambles.

Some memories are good and some bad, but the fact is that they change over the years. All of us who were part of it can recall how angry we were about the war against the Axis Powers. We were mad at all of it: Pearl Harbor, enemy atrocities, everything. We were also angry on the personal level at the necessity of going to war, at the consequent disruptions to our lives, at the risks we had to take, the privations, and the all-pervading, constant fear. We hated it, or thought sincerely that we did.Read more »

Four Months On The Front Line

A former Marine recalls the grim defense of Guadalcanal in 1942

July 1942. Winter in Wellington, New Zealand, brought long, slanting sheets of rain that drenched the U.S. Navy transports looming huge and dark along the city’s docks. The men of the 1st Marine Division labored around the clock to combat-load the ships. The artillery, tanks, and communications gear were distributed among all the vessels so that if one or more were sunk by enemy fire, no vital component would be irretrievably lost. Read more »

Not Forgetting May Be The Only Heroism Of The Survivor”

Years after one of the bloodiest and most intense battles of the war in the Pacific, a Marine Corps veteran returns to Tarawa

WAR IS A COUNTRY no traveler ever forgets. It haunts those who survive the journey as no other experience. The memories of war cling to the mind with astonishing tenacity, and sometimes in the dark of night when the glow of your cigarette is a distant fire on an island most people have never heard of, nothing seems to equal their demand for attention. Why? Possibly because the memories raise so many questions about oneself, particularly the unanswerable one: Why am I the one here to remember?Read more »

Culpable Negligence

A SUBMARINE COMMANDER TELLS WHY WE ALMOST LOST THE PACIFIC WAR

 

LIFE ABOARD

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