Pacific Theater of World War II

The war in the Pacific did not begin until 1941 when Japan surprise attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor. The attack was intended to knock the United States out of World War II. Instead, the United States declared war and entered the conflict against Japan and its ally, Germany.

The Americans mobilized their aircraft carriers in the Pacific for an island-hopping strategy during the Pacific war.

The Battle of Midway between Japan and the United States occurred June 3-7, 1942 in the Northern Pacific Ocean. Japan hoped to destroy the U.S. Pacific Fleet and remove the United States as a threat. The Americans decoded the Japanese plans and ordered their own surprise attack against the Japanese Imperial Navy. The Americans devastated the Japanese fleet. Many historians view the Battle of Midway as the turning point of the war because the American victory was so decisive.

The Japanese refused to surrender. Japan had a code of ethics for its soldiers, who would fight to the death in honor of their emperor, country and family. The American progress was slowed by these fearless Japanese defenders.

The Battle of Guadalcanal was a major conflict in the Pacific Theater between the forces of Japan and the United States. The United States hoped to take control of the small island and use its Japanese airfield to carry out air operations in the region. The battle was a major victory for the United States. It allowed the Americans to move throughout the South Pacific as they pushed the Japanese forces back to the home islands.

The Battle of Iwo Jima took place from February 19th to March 26th, 1945. The United States wanted to take control of the island of Iwo Jima, which had three airfields, in order to use it as a staging ground for an attack against mainland Japan. The Battle of Iwo Jima had some of the fiercest fighting in the Pacific. The United States used its air and ground superiority to win the battle.

The Battle of Okinawa included the largest amphibious assault of World War II in the Pacific. The number of casualties on both sides convinced President Harry S. Truman that a full-scale American assault of the Japanese home land islands would cause a number of casualties on both sides. Truman decided to use atomic bombs to end the war.

The first atomic bomb dropped on Japan was detonated over the city of Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945. It had a population of over 400,000. The bomb was detonated over the city to maximize its effect and to prevent the shockwave of the bomb from losing its impact as it collided with the earth.

Immediately after the bombing, the United States called for the full and unconditional surrender of Japan. Japanese leadership did not respond to the American demands for surrender. On August 9th, the United States carried out another atomic bombing against Japan in the city of Nagasaki.

Japan’s surrender was announced on August 15th, and World War II in the Pacific was over. Japanese officials signed the official Instrument of Surrender on September 2nd, 1945 aboard the United States battleship USS Missouri.

Source: Pacific Theater of World War II
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