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SEMPER FI, Marines in WWII. The history of the combat operations of the US Marine Corps in the Pacific Campaign. The Battle of Midway, Bouganinville, Babaul, Tarawa, Saipan Tinian, Peleliu, Iwo Jima, Okinawa
Within six months of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, the tide of war in the Pacific theater had already started to turn. In this program, we look at the hard-fought battles that stopped the Japanese thrust westward towards Hawaii and southwards towards Australia, as well as at the key battles that shattered the Japanese lines of defense in the Pacific.
Chapter 1: The Battle of Midway. A tiny atoll in the Central Pacific, Midway was considered crucial to the defense of Hawaii. Japan committed virtually their entire naval fleet to this engagement and expected to decisively defeat the American Navy. After America’s victory, the strategic offensive in the Pacific shifted permanently to the United States.
Chapter 2: Bougainville—Up the Solomons to Rabaul. Bougainville was 170 miles from Rabaul, the site of a giant Japanese military base at the northern end of the Solomon Islands chain. It was defended by 50,000 Japanese troops. Its airfields would allow U.S. fighters to escort heavy bombers to Rabaul and back again.
Chapter 3: Rabaul—Open Road To The Philippines. The isolation and neutralization of Rabaul effectively ended Japanese offensive capabilities in the southwest Pacific. By surrounding key Japanese positions and neutralizing them with overwhelming air power, the Allies were able to avoid costly battles and speed up the pace of the Pacific campaign.
Chapter 4: Tarawa—The Gilbert Islands. Proportionately the battle of Tarawa was one of the bloodiest battles of the Pacific War. Three of every ten men that landed on the first day were casualties. Only twenty of the original garrison of 4,500 defenders survived the bloody three-day battle.
The inner ring of Japanese defense in the Pacific lay across five island groups: the Gilbert, Marshall, Marianas, Caroline, and Palau islands. Control of these islands would open up the road to the Philippines, and set the stage for the conquest of the last two innermost islands, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
Chapter 1: Saipan—Inner Line of defense. Saipan represented the first assault on Japan’s inner line of defense, the Mariannas. The largest U.S. Naval force ever assembled gathered for the invasion.
Chapter 2: Tinian. U.S. forces targeted Tinian to provide advanced air bases from which the new B-29 bombers could reach Japan.
Chapter 3: Peleliu—A Costly Mistake. Peleliu was originally invaded to secure a base of operations for the upcoming invasion of the Philippines. However, by the time the island was subdued—at a cost more than 2,000 American and more than 10,000 Japanese lives—MacArthur had already established his forces on the Philippines, making the invasion of Peleliu unnecessary.
Chapter 4: Iwo Jima—Countdown to Tokyo. A volcanic Island only 750 miles southwest of Tokyo, Iwo Jima was the scene of some of the harshest fighting of the war. The month-long campaign resulted in 6,000 American soldiers dead and 20,000 wounded.
Chapter 5: Okinawa—The Final Battle. The Okinawa campaign consisted of the largest invasion force ever assembled for a single operation. It would take eighty-two days and heavy casualties to subdue the island.