Guadalcanal Greer Drinnon

Guadalcanal was the one of the key islands in World War II. According to Jim McEnery, author of Hell In The Pacific, "Our Division Commander, General Alexander A. Vandegrift, figured at least 5,000 japs were waiting for us on shore." This particular marine division only had about 700 soldiers, which wasn't a lot for what they needed them for. The overall goal for the American troops was to get back an airstrip on the island that the Japanese were building on native's ground. These natives were angry and decided to tip off the Americans and tell them were it was exactly, but they already knew it was on the Solomon Islands.

Map of Guadalcanal Battlefield

Over the course of four days, combined land, aerial, and naval attacks occurred between the Americans and the Imperial Japanese. The cause for this very important military engagement was the fact that from this island, Japan could fire missiles from the Solomon Islands. (The collection of small islands that Guadalcanal is included in.) The missiles had the possibility to land in Hawaii, or even the coast of California. On August 7, 1942, the American military forces landed on the small beach, and began to dig holes to plant mines. "About 12:30 PM that first day-right in the middle of our, 'lunchless hour' -we saw our first jap air raid. Their planes flew right over our positions. There were thirty or forty of them and they were less than a hundred feet off the ground. But they didn't slow down or even look at us. They were after our ships in the sealark channel."

Japanese fighter planes above Solomon Islands

During this raid, none of the ships were sunk. The only problem was, the ships didn't want to be stationary targets for the Japanese to hit. When they started to move, this prevented them from getting some of the nessecary supplies on shore for the troops. The troops went about 4 days without food or clean water. They had resulted to eating bugs found on the beach.

Sinking naval ship due to air raid

At 1:25 AM, the true battle began. The American forces had been creeping through the thick underbrush for a few hours, when the Imperial Japanese sprang from the trees and attacked. This began the downfall of the K/3/5 unit. Until October of next year, "The unit was stretched as thin as tissue paper." On October 1, the three battalions got onto trucks and prepared to take the airstrip that needed to be taken back so the Japs couldn't fire missiles or attack Hawaii from planes. They attacked, and it ended up being one of the worst battles for the K/3/5 unit. Twenty soldiers were lost in all, but in the end, they got the airstrip back.

Airstrip that was successfully retrieved by American Forces.

It was a long hard battle, but in the end everything was as it should be. The American forces got the airstrip back. Only 27 soldiers were lost in actual battle, and 132 soldiers were lost in the aerial attacks.

Created By
Greer Drinnon

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