By Dick Camp (Colonel, USMC, Retired) The war in the Pacific was a bloody, protracted struggle between the Empire of Japan and the United States and her allies. The first shot that propelled the U.S. into World War II was fired in the East. Even before Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the U.S. had taken casualties in 1937 when the Japanese sank the Yangtze River gunboat USS Panay. Two U.S. sailors were killed, and a civilian passenger and 11 men were seriously wounded. There was some concern that the incident would trigger a war. President Roosevelt sent a formal protest to Tokyo. Japan was not quite ready for war and took responsibility for the attack. They agreed to pay an indemnity of $2,214,007.36 for property loss and death/personal injury indemnification. Once America got into a full-scale shooting war, taking back territory that Japan had conquered became a national priority nearly a full year before U.S. troops met German soldiers in ground combat. For the most part, it was the United States Marine Corps that carried out the bulk of the amphibious combat assault landings on far-flung tropical islands and engaged in a duel to the death with the Japanese occupants who did not know the meaning of the word “quit.” By the summer of 1942, the Japanese juggernaut appeared to be unstoppable. Guam, Bataan, Corregidor, and Wake all fell to the Japanese, sending thousands of Marines into captivity. But America’s battlefield fortunes were soon to chang


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