Pacific Theater WWII

Pacific Theater

The Pacific Theater during World War II is generally regarded as the area of military confrontation between the Allied powers and Imperial Japan. The Pacific Theater consists of the entire operational expanse of the war from the Aleutian Islands in the north to Australia in the south, including island chains such as the Solomons, Gilberts, Marshalls, and Marianas. The China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater is also considered a major component of the Pacific Theater.

Kwajalein Atoll, January 1944.

Pacific Theater

Faces of War

A Photo Essay By Eric Hammel

Noted chronicler of the Pacific Theater Eric Hammel recently spent three years sorting, scanning, cleaning, selecting, and captioning United States Marine Corps World War II photos for six pictorial books. Read more

Pacific Theater

A Marine Scout’s War Journey

By Matt Broggie

Sergeant Larry Kirby will always remember the fighting on the morning of March 12, 1945, as his unit, Easy Company, 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, attempted to move against Hill 362C under the cover of darkness in northeastern Iwo Jima. Read more

Pacific Theater

Combat Photographers: Shooting the War

By Susan Zimmerman

Much of what we know today about World War II are the visual images—both still and moving—that combat photographers took to document all phases of this costly human tragedy. Read more

Pacific Theater

The Heroic Voyages of the USS Gwin

By Michael Fellows

Lieutenant Commander John Benjamin Fellows, the skipper of the American Gleaves-class destroyer USS Gwin (DD-433), stood on the bridge trying to see into the predawn blackness. Read more

In this detailed painting by artist Rick Reeves titled Avengers of Bataan, soldiers of the U.S. 38th Infantry Division advance toward Japanese positions while under heavy fire during the bloody battle for Zig Zag Pass.

Pacific Theater

Back to Bataan

By Nathan N. Prefer

Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese caught the United States Army Air Forces units in the Philippines on the ground late on December 8. Read more

Pacific Theater

The Battle of Iwo Jima: Red Sun, Black Sand

By John Walker

No foreign army in the 5,000-year history of Japan had ever successfully conquered Japanese territory. In late 1944, American war planners were about to challenge that statistic on the tiny Pacific island of Iwo Jima. Read more

Three crews were lost during tests of the Horace L. Hunley, shown in a painting by Conrad Wise Chapman.

Pacific Theater

Evolution of the Submarine

By John Protasio

The concept of a ship that could submerge beneath the water and then resurface dates back as far as the late 1400s, when Italian Renaissance artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci claimed to have found a method for a ship to remain submerged for a protracted period of time. Read more

In this painting by artist John Hamilton, the Japanese cruisers Mogami and Mikuma writhe under heavy American air attack on the last day of the Battle of Midway. Mikuma was sunk, but the seriously damaged Mogami managed to limp away to safety.

Pacific Theater

Mogami: Japan’s Luckless Cruiser

By David H. Lippman

She was the lead ship of her class, built under the 1930 London Naval Treaty, which imposed limits on cruiser, destroyer, and submarine tonnage for the United States, Great Britain, and Japan. Read more

Pacific Theater

Turning Point In The Pacific

By Michael E. Haskew

Despite more than a decade of triumphs in Asia and the Pacific, by the spring of 1942 the Japanese military establishment was in a somber mood. Read more

A Korean pressed into working as a slave laborer for the Japanese on the island of New Guinea receives medical treatment after his liberation. Thousands of Koreans were forced to construct installations and fortifications across the Pacific for their Japanese captors.

Pacific Theater

Korea Under the Rising Sun

By Allyn Vannoy

The first recorded encounter between American forces and Koreans in the Central Pacific during World War II came at Tarawa Atoll in November 1943. Read more

Pacific Theater

Two Battles at Singapore’s Bukit Timah

By Jon Diamond

Today, Bukit Timah, meaning “Tin Hill” in Malay, is a residential and business neighborhood in the center of the island of Singapore approximately seven and one-half miles northwest of Singapore City. Read more

Pacific Theater

Banzai

By Colonel Dick Camp (USMC, Ret.)

In the summer of 1944, the 5th Amphibious Corps under Marine Lt. Gen. Holland M. Read more

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the cruiser USS Pensacola was caught up in the confusion of the early days of American involvement in World War II while escorting troops and materiel to the Philippines. In this photo a convoy of ships assembles for a hazardous wartime voyage.

Pacific Theater

Alone at Sea

By Glenn Barnett

The American military presence in China, which stretched back to the 1850s, came to an abrupt end in November 1941. Read more

A Fu-Go bomb snagged on a tree in Kansas, February 23, 1945. Approximately 9,000 balloons were launched, but only about 900 made it across the Pacific; several landed in the Midwest.

Pacific Theater

The Deadly Balloon Bombs of Imperial Japan

By 1944, the Japanese still had no long-range bombers to match the Boeing B-29 Superfortress. And a great many of Dai Nippon’s warplanes and aircraft carriers were lying at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Read more

A Marine with a 3.5-inch rocket launcher ("bazooka”) sights a target as his fellow Marines prepare to assault a Japanese position north of Naha, May 1945.

Pacific Theater

Iceberg in the Pacific

By Michael E. Haskew

The curious coincidence was obvious to everyone. April 1, 1945, was both Easter Sunday and April Fool’s Day. Read more