WW2 Asiatic-Pacific Theater

WE WILL NEVER FORGET WHAT THEY ENDURED FOR OUR FREEDOM DONATED BY F. JAMES & KATHRYN

“WHEN YOU GO HOME, TELL THEM OF US AND SAY ‘FOR YOUR TOMORROW, WE GAVE OUR TODAY.’” – ANONYMOUS –

IN THE BEGINNING, THE ASIATIC-PACIFIC THEATER WAS, TO A LARGE EXTENT, A MARITIME WAR. IN ORDER FOR THE ALLIES TO BUILD AIR FIELDS CLOSER TO THE JAPANESE MAINLAND, THE UNITED STATES ARMY AND MARINES HAD TO TAKE THE ISLANDS FROM THE ENEMY. TO DO SO, THE NAVY FIRST HAD TO DEFEAT THE JAPANESE FLEET TO CLEAR THE WAY. THE BATTLE OF THE CORAL SEA IN MAY OF 1942 AND THE BATTLE OF MIDWAY IN JUNE ENDED THE JAPANESE NAVY’S CONTROL OF THE PACIFIC OCEAN.

CREWS IN THE “SILENT SERVICE” WORKED IN CRAMPED SUBMARINES. THEY WOULD PLAY A CAT AND MOUSE GAME WITH THE ENEMY. SUBMARINES WERE USED IN THE PACIFIC FOR FINDING AND SINKING JAPANESE NAVAL SHIPS AND EFFECTIVELY DESTROY THE JAPANESE MERCHANT FLEET. EVEN THOUGH THEY WERE SUCCESSFUL IN THEIR MISSION, OVER 4,100 SAILORS WOULD BE LOST WHEN THEIR SUBMARINES WERE TORPEDOED AND SANK.

BESIDES ITS WAR TIME DUTIES IN AMERICAN COASTAL WATERS, THE COAST GUARD WAS NEEDED TO HELP THE TROOPS TAKE THE PACIFIC ISLANDS. ITS PRIMARY ROLE WAS TO PUT MEN AND SUPPLIES ON THE BEACHES. THEIRS WAS A SPECIAL SKILL THAT THE NAVY DID NOT HAVE. OVER THE YEARS, COAST GUARDMEN HAD LEARNED HOW TO MANEUVER LANDING CRAFTS THROUGH STRONG CURRENTS AND REEFS WHILE UNDER ATTACK.

AMERICAN SOLDIERS AND MARINES, WHO WOULD BE ON TROOP SHIPS FOR DAYS, WERE THEN SHELLED BY THE JAPANESE AS THEY LANDED ON A BEACH. THEY RAN AND CRAWLED TOWARDS THE FIRING WHEN EVERY SURVIVAL INSTINCT IN THEM SCREAMED TO RUN THE OTHER WAY. WHISPERING IN THE DARK TO A BUDDY IN THE NEXT FOX HOLE “HOW YOU DOIN’, JOE?” AND GETTING SILENCE IN RESPONSE. THEY LEARNED NOT TO MAKE FRIENDS AS DEATH CLAIMED TOO MANY. ONCE AN ISLAND WAS TAKEN, THEY WERE LOADED ON SHIPS TO REPEAT THE CYCLE ON ANOTHER ISLAND AND ANOTHER.

ON BATTLE FIELDS, CRIES FOR “MEDIC”, “DOC” AND “CORPMAN” WOULD BE HEARD. CRAWLING TO AVOID ENEMY FIRE, THEY ANSWERED THE CRY TO AID THE WOUNDED AND HOLD THE HANDS OF THE DYING. BEING UNARMED AND WITH RED CROSSES ON THEIR HELMETS, THEY WERE IDEAL TARGETS FOR THE ENEMY. THEY WOULD LEARN EARLY TO SMEAR MUD OVER THOSE EMBLEMS.

ON THE ASIAN MAINLAND, 2,997 ARMY VOLUNTEERS FOUGHT ON FOOT IN BURMA FOR 750 MILES BEHIND ENEMY LINES, THROUGH ONE OF THE HARSHEST, MOUNTAINOUS JUNGLES IN THE WORLD TO OPEN A SUPPLY LINE

BETWEEN INDIA AND CHINA. THEY SUFFERED 2,394 CASUALTIES FROM THE JAPANESE AND DISEASES. EVERY SOLDIER IN MERRILL’S MARAUDERS HAD THE RARE DISTINCTION OF RECEIVING THE BRONZE STAR.

IN JUNE 1942, THE JAPANESE INVADED THE U.S.-OWNED ISLANDS OF ATTU AND KISKA OFF THE COAST OF ALASKA. ON THE 11TH OF MAY 1943, THE BATTLE FOR ATTU BEGAN. THE ARMY RETOOK ATTU ON THE 29TH OF MAY. ON THE 15TH OF AUGUST, TROOPS LANDED ON KISKA AND FOUND THE JAPANESE HAD LEFT.

UNITED STATES MILITARY CASUALTIES

BRANCH SERVED

COMBAT DEATHS

NON-COMBAT

DEATHS WOUNDED

PRISONER OF WAR

ARMY 7,860,000 182,701 47,454 548,501 124,079 ARMY AIR FORCES 3,400,000 52,173 35,946 17,360 + + NAVY 4,183,466 36,950 25,664 37,778 3,848 MARINES 669,100 19,773 4,778 68,207 2,274 COAST GUARD 241,093 574 1,343 + + + + + + MERCHANT MARINE 215,000 9,177 + + + 12,000 610 TOTALS 16,568,659 301,348 115,185 683,846 130,811

+ + + + +

INCLUDED IN THE PRISONER OF WAR NUMBER FOR THE ARMY NUMBERS WERE NOT AVAILABLE

FOOTNOTE: GLOBALLY, THE MILITARY AND CIVILIAN DEATH TOLL IS ESTIMATED TO BE 70 TO 85 MILLION.