“No One Returns Alive”

Too often overlooked today, the New Guinea campaign was the longest of the Pacific War, with 340,000 Americans fighting more than half a million Japanese.
Soldiers in the Imperial Army of Japan had a saying: “Heaven is Java; hell is Burma; but no one returns alive from New Guinea.” For nearly four years, they struggled to hold onto the mountainous, jungle-choked island, fighting first with the Australians, then with Americans commanded by Douglas McArthur. Because holding onto New Guinea was central to the Japanese strategy for the war, they poured a vast number of troops, ships, and warplanes into the effort, pulling away resources from other fronts that contributed to Allied successes elsewhere.
Date of Event: 
Saturday, July 22, 1865
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O’Hare’s Last Flight

The author took part in the first night action from carriers, in which the famous World War II ace Butch O'Hare(for whom Chicago's airport was named) lost his life.

By 1943, the war was moving fast—new carriers, new airplane squadrons—and in November our air group, commanded by Lt. Comdr. Edward “Butch” O’Hare, was loaded aboard ship for the Pacific Theater. O’Hare was a hero of the early war, having shot down five Japanese planes in one day and probably saving the carrier Lexington at the Battle of the Coral Sea. Read more »

Date of Event: 
Friday, July 7, 1865

Pacific War Museum

If HBO’s 10-part Pacific series has fired your interest in World War II’s Pacific Theater, consider visiting the newly renovated and much expanded George H. W. Bush Gallery of the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas. Inside the 33,000-square-foot gallery, whose architecture evokes an aircraft carrier, pill box, and Pacific island beachhead, is a Japanese midget submarine and a B-25 bomber flown on the 1942 Doolittle Raid, along with exhibits about the war’s origins and the major battles from Coral Sea to Okinawa. Read more »

Empire Of The Winds

In the Aleutian Islands you can explore a landscape of violent beauty, discover the traces of an all-but-forgotten war, and (just possibly) catch a $100,000 fish

 

One summer 30 years ago I found myself on a DC-3 bound for Unalaska, my string bass strapped into the seat next to me. I anchored the rhythm section of a high school band in Anchorage, and we were going to show students in this remote village on the Aleutian chain how much fun it could be to play a musical instrument.

 
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Return To Midway

THE ATOLL WHERE THE TIDE OF THE PACIFIC WAR TURNED IS NOW BOTH A STIRRING
HISTORICAL LANDMARK AND A STUNNING WILD LIFE REFUGE.

As we approached, the pilot came on the 737’s PA systern to announce that he would be swinging around the coral atoll before landing so everyone would get a good first look at our destination, one of the most remote in the Pacific Ocean. A murmur lifted and echoed through the cabin as those on one side and then the other strained to glimpse the wide lagoon, a luminescent aquamarine circle surrounded by the deep blue of the encompassing sea.

 
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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 »

The Defense Of Wake

Their High Command abandoned them. Their enemy thought they wouldn’t fight. But a few days after Pearl Harbor, a handful of weary Americans gave the world a preview of what the Axis was up against.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, was only one blow in an offensive without parallel in warfare. Within hours after the first bombs had crashed into Battleship Row, Japanese forces struck at twenty-nine targets along a three-thousand-mile front that stretched from the central Pacific to the South China Sea. Destroyers shelled American installations on Midway Island, and airplanes spilled their bombs over Clark and Iba airfields in the Philippines, wiping out half the American air forces there in a single raid.Read more »

The Real Meaning Of Pearl Harbor

The Japanese planes that came screaming down on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, changed the whole course of history. The United States was plunged into a long, grueling war. But more than that, the lives of most Americans were to be altered radically not just for the duration of the war, but forever. Read more »

“I Am Not A Very Timid Type …”

The American public, reeling from a series of defeats at the onset of World War II, was thrilled by the dramatic announcement that, on April 18, 1942, a flight B-25 medium bombers had successfully struck Tokyo and other targets on the Japanese mainland. To keep the enemy off-balance rigid security was imposed on the details of the surprise carrier-launched raid. “Shangn-La,” a smiling President Franklin D. Roosevelt replied when asked where the attack had originated.

 

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