USS West Virginia (BB-48) was the fourth dreadnought battleship of the Colorado class, though because Washington was cancelled, she was the third and final member of the class to be completed. The Colorado class proved to be the culmination of the standard-type battleship series built for the United States Navy in the 1910s and 1920s; the ships were essentially repeats of the earlier Tennessee design, but with a significantly more powerful main battery of eight 16-inch (406 mm) guns in twin-gun turrets. West Virginia was built between her keel laying in 1920 and her commissioning into the Navy in 1923. The ship spent the 1920s and 1930s conducting routine training exercises, including the typically-annual Fleet Problems, which provided invaluable experience for the coming war in the Pacific.
West Virginia was moored in Battleship Row on the morning of 7 December 1941 when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, bringing the United States into World War II. Badly damaged by torpedoes, the ship sank in the shallow water but was later refloated and extensively rebuilt over the course of 1943 and into mid-1944. She returned to service in time for the Philippines Campaign, where she led the American line of battle at the Battle of Surigao Strait on the night of 24–25 October. There, she was one of the few American battleships to use her radar to acquire a target in the darkness, allowing her to engage a Japanese squadron in what was the final action between battleships in naval history.
After Surigao Strait, the ship remained in the Philippines to support troops fighting during the Battle of Leyte in 1944 and then supported the invasion of Lingayen Gulf in early 1945. The ship also took part in the Battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa later that year, providing extensive fire support to the ground forces invading those islands. During the latter operation, she was hit by a kamikaze that did little damage. Following the surrender of Japan, West Virginia took part in the initial occupation and thereafter participated in Operation Magic Carpet, carrying soldiers and sailors from Hawaii to the mainland United States before being deactivated in 1946. She was decommissioned in 1947 and assigned to the Pacific Reserve Fleet, where she remained until 1959 when she was sold to ship breakers and dismantled.
The Allied occupation of Japan at the end of World War II was led by General Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, with support from the British Commonwealth. Unlike in the oc
... Morecupation of Germany, the Soviet Union was allowed little to no influence over Japan. This foreign presence marked the only time in Japan's history that it had been occupied by a foreign power. It transformed the country into a parliamentary democracy that recalled "New Deal" priorities of the 1930s politics by Roosevelt. The occupation, codenamed Operation Blacklist, was ended by the San Francisco Peace Treaty, signed on September 8, 1951, and effective from April 28, 1952, after which Japan's sovereignty – with the exception, until 1972, of the Ryukyu Islands – was fully restored. Hide
Operation Magic Carpet was the post-World War II operation by the War Shipping Administration to repatriate over eight million American military personnel from the European, Pacific, and Asian theater
... Mores. Hundreds of Liberty ships, Victory ships, and troop transports began repatriating soldiers from Europe in June 1945. Beginning in October 1945, over 370 navy ships were used for repatriation duties in the Pacific. Warships, such as aircraft carriers, battleships, hospital ships, and large numbers of assault transports were used. The European phase of Operation Magic Carpet concluded in February 1946 while the Pacific phase continued until September 1946. Hide
The Navy Unit Commendation may be awarded by the Secretary of the Navy to any unit of the Navy or Marine Corps that distinguishes itself by outstanding heroism in action against an enemy (but not suff
... Moreiciently to justify the award of the Presidential Unit Citation). It may also be awarded to a unit that distinguishes itself by extremely meritorious service not involving combat (but in support of military operations), which renders that unit outstanding when compared to other units performing similar service. Hide
The Philippine Presidential Unit Citation is a unit decoration of the Republic of the Philippines. It has been awarded to certain units of the United States military for actions both during and subseq
... Moreuent to the Second World War. Hide
The Battle of Iwo Jima (19 February – 26 March 1945), or Operation Detachment, was a major battle in which the United States Armed Forces fought for and captured the island of Iwo Jima from the
... MoreJapanese Empire. The American invasion had the goal of capturing the entire island, including its three airfields (including South Field and Central Field), to provide a staging area for attacks on the Japanese main islands. This five-week battle comprised some of the fiercest and bloodiest fighting of the War in the Pacific of World War II.
After the heavy losses incurred in the battle, the strategic value of the island became controversial. It was useless to the U.S. Army as a staging base and useless to the U.S. Navy as a fleet base. However, Navy SEABEES rebuilt the landing strips, which were used as emergency landing strips for USAAF B-29s.
The Imperial Japanese Army positions on the island were heavily fortified, with a dense network of bunkers, hidden artillery positions, and 18 km (11 mi) of underground tunnels. The Americans on the ground were supported by extensive naval artillery and complete air supremacy over Iwo Jima from the beginning of the battle by U.S. Navy and Marine Corps aviators.
Iwo Jima was the only battle by the U.S. Marine Corps in which the Japanese combat deaths were thrice those of the Americans throughout the battle. Of the 22,000 Japanese soldiers on Iwo Jima at the beginning of the battle, only 216 were taken prisoner, some of whom were captured because they had been knocked unconscious or otherwise disabled. The majority of the remainder were killed in action, although it has been estimated that as many as 3,000 continued to resist within the various cave systems for many days afterwards, eventually succumbing to their injuries or surrendering weeks later.
Despite the bloody fighting and severe casualties on both sides, the Japanese defeat was assured from the start. Overwhelming American superiority in arms and numbers as well as complete control of air power — coupled with the impossibility of Japanese retreat or reinforcement — permitted no plausible circumstance in which the Americans could have lost the battle.
The battle was immortalized by Joe Rosenthal's photograph of the raising of the U.S. flag on top of the 166 m (545 ft) Mount Suribachi by five U.S. Marines and one U.S. Navy battlefield Hospital Corpsman. The photograph records the second flag-raising on the mountain, both of which took place on the fifth day of the 35-day battle. Rosenthal's photograph promptly became an indelible icon — of that battle, of that war in the Pacific, and of the Marine Corps itself — and has been widely reproduced. Hide
On December 15, 1944, landings against minimal resistance were made on the southern beaches of the island of Mindoro, a key location in the planned Lingayen Gulf operations, in support of major landin
... Moregs scheduled on Luzon. On January 9, 1945, on the south shore of Lingayen Gulf on the western coast of Luzon, General Krueger's Sixth Army landed his first units. Almost 175,000 men followed across the twenty-mile (32 km) beachhead within a few days. With heavy air support, Army units pushed inland, taking Clark Field, 40 miles (64 km) northwest of Manila, in the last week of January.
Two more major landings followed, one to cut off the Bataan Peninsula, and another, that included a parachute drop, south of Manila. Pincers closed on the city and, on February 3, 1945, elements of the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division pushed into the northern outskirts of Manila and the 8th Cavalry Regiment (organized as infantry) passed through the northern suburbs and into the city itself.
As the advance on Manila continued from the north and the south, the Bataan Peninsula was rapidly secured. On February 16, paratroopers and amphibious units simultaneously assaulted the islet of Corregidor. It was necessary to take this stronghold because troops there can block the entrance of Manila Bay. The Americans needed to establish a major harbor base at Manila Bay to support the expected invasion of Japan, planned to begin on November 1, 1945. Resistance on Corregidor ended on February 27, and then all resistance by the Japanese Empire ceased on August 15, 1945, obviating the need for an invasion of the Japanese Home Islands.
Despite initial optimism, fighting in Manila was harsh. It took until March 3 to clear the city of all Japanese troops, and the Japanese Marines, who fought on stubbornly and refused to either surrender or to evacuate as the Japanese Army had done. Fort Drum, a fortified island in Manila Bay near Corregidor, held out until 13 April, when a team of Army troops went ashore and pumped 3,000 gallons of diesel fuel into the fort, then set off incendiary charges. No Japanese soldiers in Fort Drum survived the blast and fire.
In all, ten U.S. divisions and five independent regiments battled on Luzon, making it the largest American campaign of the Pacific war, involving more troops than the United States had used in North Africa, Italy, or southern France. Hide
The Battle of Leyte in the Pacific campaign of World War II was the amphibious invasion of the Gulf of Leyte in the Philippines by American and Filipino guerrilla forces under the command of General D
... Moreouglas MacArthur, who fought against the Imperial Japanese Army in the Philippines led by General Tomoyuki Yamashita from 17 October 1944 - 1 July 1945. The operation code named King Two launched the Philippines campaign of 1944–45 for the recapture and liberation of the entire Philippine Archipelago and to end almost three years of Japanese occupation. Hide
(Ryukyus Campaign 26 March to 2 July 1945) The invasion of the Ryukyus was made by troops of the U.S. Tenth Army, which had been activated on 20 June 1944 with Lt. Gen. Simon B. Buckner, Jr., as co
... Moremmanding general. The Ryukyus campaign began on 26 March 1945 with the capture of small islands near Okinawa, where forward naval bases were established. An amphibious assault on Okinawa took place on 1 April, and the fighting lasted until June. Here, for the first time, Americans were invading what the Japanese defenders considered their home soil, and the defense was fanatic in the extreme. American troops suffered heavy casualties, and the Navy, too, had heavy personnel losses as Japanese suicide flyers, the Kamikazes, sank some 25 American ships and damaged 165 others in a desperate attempt to save the Ryukyus. Among the nearly 35,000 American casualties were General Buckner, who was killed on 18 June. He was succeeded by Maj. Gen. Roy S. Geiger, who was in turn succeeded by General Joseph W. Stilwell, who arrived to assume command of the Tenth Army on 22 June 1945.
Capture of the Ryukyus gave Allied naval and air forces excellent bases within 700 miles of Japan proper. Throughout June and July, Japan was subjected to increasingly intensive air attack and even to naval bombardment.
The surrender of the Empire of Japan was announced by Imperial Japan on August 15 and formally signed on September 2, 1945, bringing the hostilities of World War II to a close. By the end of July 1945
... More, the Imperial Japanese Navy was incapable of conducting major operations and an Allied invasion of Japan was imminent. Together with the United Kingdom and China, the United States called for the unconditional surrender of the Japanese armed forces in the Potsdam Declaration on July 26, 1945—the alternative being "prompt and utter destruction". While publicly stating their intent to fight on to the bitter end, Japan's leaders (the Supreme Council for the Direction of the War, also known as the "Big Six") were privately making entreaties to the still-neutral Soviet Union to mediate peace on terms more favorable to the Japanese. Meanwhile, the Soviets were preparing to attack Japanese forces in Manchuria and Korea (in addition to southern Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands) in fulfillment of promises they had secretly made to the United States and the United Kingdom at the Tehran and Yalta Conferences. Hide
The Presidential Unit Citation may be awarded to units of the Armed Forces of the United States and cobelligerent nations for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy occurring on or aft
... Moreer December 7, 1941. Hide
The Combat Action Ribbon is a personal decoration awarded to members of the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard (when operating under the control of the Navy) in the grade of captain (or colonel in th
... Moree Marine Corps) and below who have actively participated in ground or surface combat. (World War II and Korea War service rate one ribbon for each period only) Hide
The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of December 7, 1941 (Dece
... Morember 8 in Japan). The attack led to the United States' entry into World War II.
The attack was intended as a preventive action in order to keep the U.S. Pacific Fleet from interfering with military actions the Empire of Japan was planning in Southeast Asia against overseas territories of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the United States. There were simultaneous Japanese attacks on the U.S.-held Philippines and on the British Empire in Malaya, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
From the standpoint of the defenders, the attack commenced at 7:48 a.m. Hawaiian Time. The base was attacked by 353 Japanese fighters, bombers and torpedo planes in two waves, launched from six aircraft carriers. All eight U.S. Navy battleships were damaged, with four being sunk. All but one were later raised, and six of the eight battleships were returned to service and went on to fight in the war. The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship, and one minelayer. 188 U.S. aircraft were destroyed; 2,403 Americans were killed and 1,178 others were wounded. Important base installations such as the power station, shipyard, maintenance, and fuel and torpedo storage facilities, as well as the submarine piers and headquarters building (also home of the intelligence section) were not attacked. Japanese losses were light: 29 aircraft and five midget submarines lost, and 65 servicemen killed or wounded. One Japanese sailor was captured.
The attack came as a profound shock to the American people and led directly to the American entry into World War II in both the Pacific and European theaters. The following day (December 8), the United States declared war on Japan. Domestic support for non-interventionism, which had been strong, disappeared. Clandestine support of Britain (e.g., the Neutrality Patrol) was replaced by active alliance. Subsequent operations by the U.S. prompted Germany and Italy to declare war on the U.S. on December 11, which was reciprocated by the U.S. the same day.
Years later several writers alleged that parties high in the U.S. and British governments knew of the attack in advance and may have let it happen (or even encouraged it) with the aim of bringing America into war. However, this Pearl Harbor advance-knowledge conspiracy theory is rejected by mainstream historians.
There were numerous historical precedents for unannounced military action by Japan. However, the lack of any formal warning, particularly while negotiations were still apparently ongoing, led President Franklin D. Roosevelt to proclaim December 7, 1941, "a date which will live in infamy".
Due to the fact the attack happened without a declaration of war and without explicit warning, the attack on Pearl Harbor was judged by the Tokyo Trials to be a Japanese war crime. Hide