On May 3, 1945, the U.S.S Little (DD 803) sank after a Japanese kamikaze attack of 124 planes off of Okinawa. 31 crew members lost their lives and another 49 were wounded. The U.S.S. Little received two battle stars for World War II service at Iwo Jima and Okinawa.Â
"And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction: 'I served in the United States Navy.'" ~ President John F. Kennedy, 1 August 1963, Bancroft Hall at the U. S. Naval Academy
Photo: Lt. (jg) John F. Kennedy, 1942. Turgeon Studios, Potomac, Maryland.
Members of the 99th Fighter Squadron of the Army Air Forces, famous all-African American outfit, who rapidly made themselves feared by enemy pilots, pose for a picture at the Anzio beachhead. In the foreground, head bared, is 1st Lt. Andrew Lane. February 1944.Â
George C. Fields, 32, points proudly to the honor certificate presented him at graduation exercises for the tenth African American class to be graduated from the Navy's Service Schools at the U.S. Naval Training Station, Great Lakes, IL. Fields served as President Roosevelt's valet for four years before entering the Navy. 1943.Â
Pfc. Luther Woodward, a member of the Fourth Ammunition Company, admires the Bronze Star awarded to him for 'his bravery, initiative and battle-cunning.' The award was later upgraded to the Silver Star. April 17, 1945.Â
Ambassador F. Haydn Williams is the founding Chairman of Friends of the National World War II Memorial, Inc. He received his A.B. degree from the University of California Berkeley and served in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific Theater during World War II. After the war, he studied at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy for his M.A. and PhD.
Ambassador Williams served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International and National Security Council Affairs during the Eisenhower and Kennedy Administrations. In 1964, he was elected President of the Asia Foundation in San Francisco, retiring as President Emeritus in 1989. He was the U.S. Ambassador for the Micronesian-Marianas Future Political Status Negotiations from 1971-1976.
Ambassador Williams was appointed by the President to the American Battle Monuments Commission in 1994 and was named Chairman of the Commission's World War II Memorial Committee responsible for locating the site, conducting an open design competition, and winning final approval of the design for the World War II Memorial on the National Mall.
American servicemen and women gather in front of "Rainbow Corner" Red Cross club in Paris to celebrate the unconditional surrender of the Japanese.Â
Advertisement for Atabrine, an anti-malaria drug, posted at the 363rd Station Hospital in Papua, New Guinea; March 1944.Â
The Atlantic Charter was the statement of principles agreed to by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Great Britain at their first wartime conference in August 1941. The Charter expressed the two countries' beliefs in the rights of self-determination, of all people to live in freedom from fear and want, and of freedom of the seas, as well as the belief that all nations must abandon the use of force and work collectively in the fields of economics and security. The joint declaration was issued by President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill on August 14, 1941. The Atlantic Charter is often cited by historians as one of the first significant steps towards the formation of the United Nations. Image: Page 1 draft release of the Atlantic Charter with President Roosevelt's annotations in pencil. FDR Library archives.Â
"Now the question falls to our generation: How will we build upon the sacrifice of D-Day's heroes? Like the soldiers of Omaha Beach, we cannot stand still. We cannot stay safe by doing so. Avoiding today's problems would be our own generation's appeasements. For just as freedom has a price, it also has a purpose, and its name is progress. Today, our mission is to expand freedom's reach forward; to test the full potential of each of our own citizens; to strengthen our families, our faith, and our communities; to fight indifference and intolerance; to keep our Nation strong; and to light the lives of those still dwelling in the darkness of undemocratic rule. Our parents did that and more; we must do nothing less. They struggled in war so that we might strive in peace." ~ President Bill Clinton, June 6, 1994 - 50th anniversary of D-Day Photo: President Clinton walks on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France on 50th anniversary of D-Day. Courtesy of the Clinton Library.Ã‚Â
Senator Bob Dole recovering at Percy Jones Veterans Hospital, Battle Creek, MI, 1947 (Robert J. Dole Archive and Special Collections)Â
The Battle of Cherbourg, June 22-29, 1944
The Battle of Cherbourg was part of the Battle of Normandy during World War II, fought immediately after the successful Allied landings on June 6, 1944. Led by Major General J. Lawton Collins, American troops isolated and captured the fortified port, which was considered vital to the campaign in Western Europe, in a hard-fought month-long campaign. Photo: U.S. soldiers moving through the streets of Cherbourg. (US Army Signal Corps)
On July 21, 1944, U.S. forces - the 3rd Marine Division and the Army 77th Infantry Division - advanced in the Mariana Islands to capture the former American territory of Guam from the Japanese. On August 10, after 3 long weeks of bloody and ferocious fighting, organized Japanese resistance ended, and Guam was declared secure. A few Japanese soldiers held out in the jungle. On December 8, 1945, three U.S. Marines were ambushed and killed. On January 24, 1972, Sergeant Shoichi Yokoi was discovered by hunters. He had lived alone in a cave for 27 years. Four U.S. Marines were awarded the Medal of Honor for their heroic actions during the Battle of Guam: PFC Luther Skaggs Jr., PFC Frank Witek (posthumously), PFC Leonard F. Mason (posthumously) and Captain (later General) Louis H. Wilson, Jr. Liberation Day continues to be celebrated on Guam every July 21. Photo: Two Marines say "Thanks" to the men of the Coast Guard for their contribution to the invasion of Guam. The Coast Guard was responsible for the ferrying and transfer of troops from ship to shore, the helmsmen and crew of the landing craft undergoing the same intense fire as their Marine passengers.Â
General Dwight D. Eisenhower gives the order of the Day. June 6, 1944.Â
U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Great Britain held their first wartime conference from August 9-12, 1941 on board naval vessels anchored in Placentia Bay, off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada. The Atlantic Conference (codenamed Riviera) produced the Atlantic Charter, a joint declaration by President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill outlining the ideal goals of the war and post-war. Photo: Conference leaders during Church services on the after deck of HMS Prince of Wales, in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland, during the Atlantic Charter Conference. President Roosevelt (left) and Prime Minister Churchill are seated in the foreground.Standing directly behind them are Admiral Ernest J. King, USN; General George C. Marshall, U.S. Army; General Sir John Dill, British Army; Admiral Harold R. Stark, USN; and Admiral Sir Dudley Pound, RN. At far left is Harry Hopkins, talking with W. Averell Harriman.Â
General Douglas MacArthur meets with five Native American troops serving in one unit, December 31, 1943.Â
On August 5, 1943, the Women's Flying Training Detachment (WFTD) and the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) were merged to form the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). Twenty-five thousand women applied to join the WASP, but only 1,830 were accepted and took the oath. Out of these, only 1,074 of them passed the training and joined. Those 1,074 flew over 60 million miles in every type of military aircraft. The WASP was granted veteran status in 1977, and given the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009. Photo: Frances Green, Margaret (Peg) Kirchner, Ann Waldner and Blanche Osborn leaving their plane, "Pistol Packin' Mama," at the four-engine school at Lockbourne AAF, Ohio, during WASP ferry training B-17 Flying FortressÂ
Guadalcanal Campaign "Operation Watchtower"
On 7 August 1942, Allied Forces, including the U.S. First Marine Division, landed on the islands of Guadalcanal, Tulagi, and Florida in the southern Solomon Islands. The long fight for Guadalcanal formally opened shortly after 6:00 a.m. on the 7th, when the heavy cruiser Quincy began bombarding Japanese positions near Lunga Point. The Allies overwhelmed the outnumbered Japanese defenders, who had occupied the islands since May 1942, and captured Tulagi and Florida, as well as an airfield (later named Henderson Field) that was under construction on Guadalcanal. In the six months between August 1942 and February 1943, the United States and its Pacific Allies fought a brutally hard air-sea-land campaign against the Japanese for possession of the island of Guadalcanal. This was the Allies' first major offensive action of the Pacific War and began as a risky enterprise since Japan still maintained a significant naval superiority in the Pacific ocean. Photo: U.S. Marines rest in the field on Guadalcanal, circa August-December 1942. Most of these Marines are armed with M1903 bolt-action rifles and carry M1905 bayonets and USMC 1941 type packs. Two men high on the hill at right wear mortar vests and one in center has a World War I type grenade vest. The Marine seated at far right has a Browning Automatic Rifle.
In recognition of its outstanding war effort Hershey Chocolate Corporation was awarded the Army-Navy â€˜Eâ€™ Production Award on August 22, 1942. The Corporation received a flag to fly above the chocolate plant and a lapel pin for every employee. The award was presented for exceeding all production expectations in the manufacturing of an Emergency Field Ration. At the Award ceremony, Major General Gregory noted the companyâ€™s achievements stating, "The men and women of Hershey Chocolate Corporation have every reason to be proud of their great work in backing up our soldiers on the fighting fronts." By the end of the war in 1945 Hershey Chocolate Corporation would receive a total of five Army-Navy â€˜Eâ€™ Awards. Photo: Army-Navy 'E' Award Ceremony; l-r: Sam Hinkle, Major-General EDmnd B. Gregory, Milton Hershey, J.J. Gallagher, William Murrie and Ezra Hershey.Â
"United We Win" [World War II Poster] (1943) ~ In an effort to counter the demoralizing effect of racial segregation and discrimination, the U.S. government launched several campaigns that highlighted the contributions of African Americans to the war effort. Â
President Truman placed General of the Army Douglas MacArthur in charge of the formal surrender ceremony and occupation of Japan, under the title Supreme Commander Allied Powers (SCAP). On August 30, 1945, General MacArthur flew to Japan. Arriving at Atsugi airfield, he established temporary headquarters some twenty miles away, at the Tokyo Bay city of Yokohama. SCAP headquarters moved to Tokyo on 8 September, beginning six years of occupation government from the Japanese capital city. Photo: General MacArthur talks with Allied and Japanese newsmen after his arrival at Atsugi airfield, Japan, on 30 August 1945. Standing behind General MacArthur, at right, is General Robert L. Eichelberger.Â
Between 4 and 7 June 1942, the Battle of Midway was fought over and near the tiny U.S. mid-Pacific base at Midway atoll.The Battle of Midway is considered the decisive battle of the war in the Pacific. Before this battle the Japanese were on the offensive, capturing territory throughout Asia and the Pacific. By their attack, the Japanese had planned to capture Midway to use as an advance base, as well as to entrap and destroy the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Because of communication intelligence successes, the U.S. Pacific Fleet surprised the Japanese forces, sinking the four Japanese carriers, that had attacked Pearl Harbor only six months before, while only losing of one carrier. After Midway, the Americans and their Allies took the offensive in the Pacific.Japanese Combined Fleet commander Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto moved on Midway in an effort to draw out and destroy the U.S. Pacific Fleet's aircraft carrier striking forces, which had embarassed the Japanese Navy in the mid-April Doolittle Raid on Japan's home islands and at the Battle of Coral Sea in early May. He planned to quickly knock down Midway's defenses, follow up with an invasion of the atoll's two small islands and establish a Japanese air base there. He expected the U.S. carriers to come out and fight, but to arrive too late to save Midway and in insufficient strength to avoid defeat by his own well-tested carrier air power. Yamamoto's intended surprise was thwarted by superior American communications intelligence, which deduced his scheme well before battle was joined. This allowed Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, the U.S. Pacific Fleet commander, to establish an ambush by having his carriers ready and waiting for the Japanese. On 4 June 1942, in the second of the Pacific War's great carrier battles, the trap was sprung. The perserverance, sacrifice and skill of U.S. Navy aviators, plus a great deal of good luck on the American side, cost Japan four irreplaceable fleet carriers, while only one of the three U.S. carriers present was lost. The base at Midway, though damaged by Japanese air attack, remained operational and later became a vital component in the American trans-Pacific offensive. Courtesy of Navy.mil Photo: Ensign George H. Gay at Pearl Harbor Naval Hospital, with a nurse and a copy of the "Honolulu Star-Bulletin" newspaper featuring accounts of the battle. He was the only survivor of the 4 June 1942 Torpedo Squadron Eight (VT-8) TBD torpedo plane attack on the Japanese carrier force. Gay's book "Sole Survivor" indicates that the date of this photograph is probably 7 June 1942, following an operation to repair his injured left hand and a meeting with Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.Â
Mildred H. McAfee, President of Wellesley College, was sworn in as a Naval Reserve Lieutenant Commander on August 3, 1942. She was the first female commissioned officer in U.S. Navy history, and the first director of the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). With others, she campaigned for WAVES to have the same pay and benefits as their male counterparts. These efforts resulted in Public Law 183, effective on November 9, 1943, which entitled all Women's Reserve personnel the allowances and benefits available to men. It also provided for one captain in the Women's Reserve; Lieutenant Commander McAfee was promoted to captain later that same month. During the peak of World War II, Captain McAfee commanded 82,000 women. Photo: Lieutenant Commander Mildred H. McAfee, USNR while serving as Director of the WAVESÂ
"This is as true in everyday life as it is in battle: we are given one life and the decision is ours whether to wait for circumstances to make up our mind, or whether to act, and in acting, to live." ~ General Omar N. Bradley
Photo: Omar Bradley being saluted by Sailors as he boards the USS Augusta in preparation for D-Day, June 3, 1944. It was aboard this ship from which Bradley would direct the landings onto Omaha and Utah beaches three days later. Ã‚Â
On May 6, 1941, Bob Hope's popular Pepsodent radio series aired from March Army Air Force Field in Riverside, California. This was the first of hundreds of radio and television broadcasts Hope performed for the entertainment of U.S. soldiers. Hope continued to entertain the troops until December 1990.Â
General George S. Patton acknowledging the cheers of the welcoming crowds in Los Angeles, CA, during his visit on June 9, 1945.Â
On July 26, 1945, United States President Harry S. Truman, United Kingdom Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Chairman of the Nationalist Government of China Chiang Kai-shek issued the Potsdam Declaration, which outlined the terms of surrender for the Empire of Japan as agreed upon at the Potsdam Conference. This ultimatum stated that, if Japan did not surrender, it would face "prompt and utter destruction." Photo: Winston Churchill, Harry S. Truman, and Joseph Stalin at the Potsdam Conference (July 17 to August 2, 1945). Soviet leader Joseph Stalin did not sign the Declaration, since the Soviet Union did not enter the war against Japan until August 8, 1945. Â
On August 1-2, 1943, U.S. Navy boat PT-109, commanded by Lt. (jg) John F. Kennedy, was performing nighttime patrols near New Georgia in the Solomon Islands when it was rammed by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri. Two crew members were killed; Kennedy led the survivors to nearby islands until they could be rescued. Kennedy, despite re-injury to his back in the collision, towed a badly burned crewman through the water with a life jacket strap clenched between his teeth. Photo: Lieutenant John F. Kennedy, USNR, (standing at right) with other crewmen on board PT-109, 1943.Â
"The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge -- and pray God we have not lost it -- that there is a profound, moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.
You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One's country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it's the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you.
The Americans who fought here that morning knew word of the invasion was spreading through the darkness back home. They fought -- or felt in their hearts, though they couldn't know in fact, that in Georgia they were filling the churches at 4 a.m., in Kansas they were kneeling on their porches and praying, and in Philadelphia they were ringing the Liberty Bell.
Something else helped the men of D-day: their rockhard belief that Providence would have a great hand in the events that would unfold here; that God was an ally in this great cause. And so, the night before the invasion, when Colonel Wolverton asked his parachute troops to kneel with him in prayer he told them: Do not bow your heads, but look up so you can see God and ask His blessing in what we're about to do. Also that night, General Matthew Ridgway on his cot, listening in the darkness for the promise God made to Joshua: 'I will not fail thee nor forsake thee.'
These are the things that impelled them; these are the things that shaped the unity of the Allies."
~ President Ronald Reagan, June 6, 1984 - 40th anniversary of D-Day
On June 9, 1943, just three days before his nineteenth birthday, George H.W. Bush was commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve at Corpus Christi, Texas making him the youngest naval aviator to that date. Photo: George Bush in his TBM Avenger on the carrier USS San Jacinto in 1944Â
Operation Tidal Wave -- On August 1, 1943, 177 B-24s of the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) took off on an 18-hour, 2,400 mile round trip mission to destroy the largest of the Nazi-held oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania. This mission was one of the costliest for the USAAF in the European Theater, with 53 aircraft and 660 aircrewmen lost. It was the worst loss ever suffered by the USAAF on a single mission, and its date was later referred to as 'Black Sunday.' It was also the most highly decorated military mission in U.S. history, with 5 Medals of Honor and numerous Distinguished Service Crosses awarded to Operation Tidal Wave crew members. Photo: The Sandman, a B-24 Liberator piloted by Robert Sternfels, as it emerges from a pall of smoke during Operation Tidal Wave.Â
The flag-draped body of Maj. Thomas Howie rests on the rubble of the St. Lo Cathedral, 1944 Â
At 7:00 p.m. on August 14, 1945, President Harry Truman stood before reporters gathered at the White House and announced the unconditional surrender of Japan. The Pacific War was over. Although the formal signing of the terms of surrender ending World War II would not occur until September 2nd, the announcement of Victory Over Japan Day, or V-J Day, sent millions of Americansâ€” citizens and members of the armed forces, out into the streets of cities and towns across the country and around the world.Â
From April to June 1945, the Battle of Okinawa--code-named Operation Iceberg--was fought on the Ryukyu Islands of Okinawa. It was the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific War of World War II. It was also one of the bloodiest and costliest. During the 82-day-long battle, more than 12,500 Americans were killed or missing in action--the highest number lost in a single battle in the Pacific war. More than 70,000 Japanese soldiers and Okinawan conscripts were killed. And, perhaps as many as 100,000 to 150,000 Okinawan men, woman, and children lost their lives during the nearly three months of fighting. Photo: US Flag raised over Shuri castle on Okinawa. Braving Japanese sniper fire, US Marine Lieutenant Colonel R.P. Ross, Jr. places on American flag on a parapet of Shuri castle on May 29, 1945. The castle is a former enemy stronghold in southern Okinawa in the Ryukyu (Loochoo chain), situated 375 miles from Japan. US Tenth Army forces landed on Okinawa on March 31, 1945. By June 10, the Japanese were compressed into an area of about 16 sq. miles at the southern tip of the island and were battling fiercely to retain the last high ground still in their hands. Okinawa will be developed into a major US base from which American planes will be able to hammer Japans industrial areas.Â
The crew of the South Dakota (BB-57) stands with bowed heads, while Chaplain N.D. Lindner reads the benediction held in honor of fellow shipmates killed in the air action of Guam on 19 June 1944.Â
At 12:14 a.m. on July 30, 1945, the USS Indianapolis was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in the Philippine Sea and sank in 12 minutes. Of 1,196 men on board, approximately 300 went down with the ship. The remaining 900 men faced exposure, dehydration, and shark attacks as they waited for assistance while floating with few lifeboats and almost no food or water. The Navy learned of the sinking when survivors were spotted four days later by the crew of a PV-1 Ventura on routine patrol. Only 316 sailors survived. The USS Indianapolis was the last major U.S. Navy ship sunk by enemy action in World War II. Photo: USS Indianapolis' survivors on Guam, August 1945Â
"During the time I have had WACs under my command, they have met every test and task assigned to them...their contributions in efficiency, skill, spirit, and determination are immeasurable." ~ Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower speaking of the 150,000 American women who served in the Women's Army Corps (WAC) during World War II (1945).
The second Washington Conference, code named Trident, began on May 12, 1943. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his chief military advisors traveled to Washington to meet with President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his planning team to debate strategic issues. The conference was mainly concerned with the issues of future Mediterranean strategy and the invasion of northwestern Europe. The Trident Conference was the third major wartime diplomatic conference between Roosevelt and Churchill.Â
On July 30, 1942, the U.S. Naval Reserve (Women's Reserve) -- commonly referred to as WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) -- was established as a World War II division of the U.S. Navy that consisted entirely of women. Image: Recruitment Poster for WAVESÂ
On April 22, 1944, American and Allied Forces undertook simultaneous amphibious landings in New Guinea and engaged with Japanese troops stationed there. In Operation Reckless, the U.S. 24th and the 41st Infantry Divisionsâ€”under Lieutenant General Robert L. Eichelbergerâ€”landed at Tanahmerah and Humboldt bays near Hollandia in Dutch New Guinea (later known as Jayapura, Indonesia). In Operation Persecution, the 163rd Regimental Combat Teamâ€”detached from the U.S. 41st Infantry Divisionâ€”and the No. 62 Works Wing of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) simultaneously landed at Aitape, in the Australian Territory of New Guinea (later Papua New Guinea) about 140 mi (230 km) east of Hollandia. Photo: Sgt. Carl Weinke and Pfc. Ernest Marjoram, Signal Corps cameramen, wading through stream while following infantry troops in forward area during invasion at a beach in New Guinea, April 22, 1944. Â
On May 7, 1945, Germany signed an unconditional surrender at Allied headquarters in Reims, France, to take effect the following day, ending the European conflict of World War II. General Walter Bedell "Beetle" Smith, General Dwight Eisenhowerâ€™s chief of staff, signed for the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF). Photo: "Jubilant American soldier hugs motherly English woman and victory smiles light the faces of happy service men and civilians at Piccadilly Circus, London, celebrating Germany's unconditional surrender." May 7, 1945. Â
Throughout the spring of 1945, American forces continued to push the German Army eastward. It was only a matter of time before they made contact with the Russian army. The first meeting, documented in morning report entries, took place on the banks of the Elbe River near the town of Strehla on April 25, 1945. (courtesy archives.gov) Photo: "Happy 2nd Lieutenant William Robertson and Lt. Alexander Sylvashko, Russian Army, shown in front of sign [East Meets West] symbolizing the historic meeting of the Russian and American Armies, near Torgau, Germany." 04/25/1945Ã‚Â
On the morning of May 11, 1945, while supporting the invasion of Okinawa, the USS Bunker Hill was struck and severely damaged by two Japanese kamikaze planes within 30 seconds of each other. 346 sailors and airmen lost their lives, 43 more went missing, and 264 were wounded. Despite severe damage, the carrier was able to return under her own power to the U.S. for repairs. Photo: "USS BUNKER HILL hit by two Kamikazes in 30 seconds on 11 May 1945 off Kyushu." Â