War In The Pacific

The fifth Japanese midget sub lost its bearings and washed up on the windward side of Oahu on December 8th. America captured Kazuo Sakamaki, the first Japanese POW of the war. The beginning of World War II then spread to the Philippines. After the fall of Bataan, American and Filipino prisoners were taken on a brutal 65 mile hike to Camp O’Donnell known as “The Bataan Death March.” General MacArthur and his men worked out of the Malinta Tunnel on Corregidor. With the impending invasion by the Japanese, President Roosevelt ordered a reluctant MacArthur and his family to evacuate by PT boat through the Japanese blockade to the island of Mindanao. From there they were flown to Australia to plan the retaking of the Philippines Those remaining on Corregidor were captured and sent to slave labor camps in Manchuria and Japan.

On April 18, 1942, Jimmy Doolittle and sixteen B-25 bombers lifted off the carrier USS Hornet to strike the heartland of Japan.  All sixteen bombers and 80 Doolittle Raiders crashed in China, Siberia, and the ocean after leaving Japan.  I attended the much advertised last Doolittle Reunion in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, where it all began over 70 years ago.  Three of the surviving four Raiders attended the weekend affair for autographs, photos, and a banquet.  They were David Thatcher, Ed Saylor, and Dick Cole.  

When the Philippines were retaken in 1945, the city of Manila was virtually destroyed much like Stalingrad. The “then & now” photo shows a Sherman tank entering the walled Intramauros section of Fort Santiago.

About the same time, the Navy and Marines began the invasion of Iwo Jima on February 19th, 1945. This became the bloodiest battle of the Pacific, and also the most symbolic demonstration of fortitude displayed during World War II. Guadalcanal Medal of Honor recipient John Basilone died within the first hours of action. Basilone was awarded The Navy Cross, thus becoming the highest decorated Marine. With America about broke, and with the impending invasion of Japan looming, the three flag-raising survivors of Joe Rosenthal’s iconic photograph were brought back to America for a bond tour. That bond tour raised almost half of the government’s budget which produced the two bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end the war.


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