News

Veterans Remember Tragedy of War in Pacific

Yi Suli

The Japanese military had waged war in the Pacific since 1931. But throughout the 1930s, the United States remained at peace with Japan. In 1940, President Franklin Roosevelt moved the U.S. fleet to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, to deter Japan from attacking. What happened later was to change history. VOA Chinese Branch Reporter Yi Suli interviewed some U.S. veterans of World War Two in the Pacific. Leta Hong Fincher narrates.

Early Sunday morning, December 7th, 1941, hundreds of Japanese fighter planes carried out a surprise attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor. The following day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared war on Japan. "Dec 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy…"

When the United States entered the war, 20-year-old Norman Hatch was a combat photographer for the Marine Corps. Two years later, he was sent to document the U.S. battle with Japan on the Pacific island of Tarawa.

"I was probably within about 30, 40 feet [10 – 12 meters] of the enemy in one shot,” recalled Mr. Hatch, “And I was able to catch the shot that was the only time--not only in the Pacific but I think in the European war--in the same frame of footage, I had in the foreground our own guys fighting and in the background I had the Japanese."

The Marine Corps film, called "With the Marines at Tarawa," later won an Academy Award for its vivid portrayal of the 1943 battle.

"It was a battle that lasted three days -- 76 hours -- on a piece of ground one-third the size of Central Park in New York,” Mr. Hatch remembered. “And in that short period of time, there were 6,000 people killed, and 2,000 wounded."

In February 1945, U.S. marines made their first landing on Japanese territory, at Iwo Jima. Norman Hatch was there to film it.

"If we thought Tarawa was bad, for the way the Japanese had dug themselves in, Iwo was the worst of them all," he said.

On the battle's fifth day, marines raised the U.S. flag at Mount Suribachi--an event immortalized by the famous photograph, and by Mr. Hatch's team of cameramen.

Mr. Hatch is still haunted by the carnage that he witnessed. He says the United States was justified in carrying out its nuclear attacks on Japan because he believes the Pacific war would otherwise have dragged on for years longer.

"There was no desire within the Japanese psyche to quit. And so we would have had to go through all of those islands that made up the mainland of Japan and fight."

Daniel Martinez is a historian at the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. He says that for most Americans in the 1940s, the phrase "remember Pearl Harbor" was a cry for vengeance. But 60 years after the war's end, Mr. Martinez says that feeling of vengeance is gone. "Now 'remember Pearl Harbor' is a term of reverence, to remember the dead, to remember that this war was tragic for both sides."

Stephen Cromwell is a Pacific war veteran who still reveres the dead on both sides. He was a corpsman on the battleship USS Missouri when it was struck by a Japanese kamikaze suicide pilot in April 1945.

"I was able to recover his body and I called up to the bridge to ask if I should throw it overboard,” said Mr. Cromwell. “Captain Callaghan said, ‘No, when we secure, take it down to the sick bay, and we'll have a burial for him tomorrow.’ "

Mr. Cromwell says the captain of the USS Missouri, William Callaghan, was impressed by the kamikaze pilot's bravery and insisted on burying him with honors.

Several months later, aboard the same USS Missouri on September 2nd, 1945, Japan surrendered to the Allies.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs