ON PEARL HARBOR
|A Japanese task force sailed undetected across the North
Pacific to launch a surprise attack on the U.S. military base
at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Two waves of air attacks caused heavy
damage and destruction to the United States Fleet. The USS
Arizona was destroyed and today lies undisturbed as a memorial
where it sank. 7 December 1941 is known as the day that will
live in infamy.
WORLD WAR II
|On 8 December 1941, the United States declared war on the
Axis Powers, simplicity of life vanished and everyone made
sacrifices. Women replaced men in factories and businesses,
symbolized by “Rosie the Riveter,” Victory gardens
were planted. Gasoline and food were rationed. Clothes were
made from recycled material. Scrap metals were collected and
recycled. War bonds were purchased. World War II altered the
lives of the American people permanently and the sacrifices
helped Allied Forces win the war.
|Besieged and blockaded on the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines,
75,000 men, including 12,000 Americans, were taken prisoner
by the Japanese on 9 April 1942. The Japanese promised fair
treatment but the number of sick and starving proved overwhelming.
Too few trucks were allotted to haul the captives to prisoner-of-war
camps 60 miles away. Some POWs were treated humanely on the
forced march, but many were denied food and water, beaten,
shot, bayoneted, and buried alive. The atrocities and deprivation
during which 7,000 to 10,000 perished, shocked and enraged
America and earned it the name “Bataan Death March.”
|On 18 April 1942, a force of sixteen B-25 bombers attacked
Tokyo, Japan. They took off from an aircraft carrier to raid
Tokyo and other Japanese cities. The raid revived American
morale and stunned the Japanese because they realized their
heartland was no longer safe from attack. Eleven of our eighty
airmen were killed or captured.
|Five brothers, abiding by the motto: “We stick together,”
enlisted in the U.S. Navy in January 1942. In November all
five lost their lives after a Japanese torpedo sank their
ship. One year later the Navy commissioned a warship in their
honor. Other brothers have served together. This is the only
time since the Civil War that five military personnel from
the same immediate family perished in battle.
|In August 1942, United States Marines landed on the island
of Guadalcanal in the first American offensive in the Pacific.
The landings were initially unopposed while across the channel
at Tulagi the Japanese offered fierce resistance. Tulagi was
secured in a few days but bitter fighting continued on Guadalcanal
for six months. The battle left 24,000 Japanese and 1,750
Americans dead before the Japanese withdrew in February 1943.
It was the first time the Japanese were defeated on land and
they never again took the offensive in the Pacific War.
|On 3 February 1943, the transport ship USS Dorchester was
torpedoed and sunk in twenty minutes. There were not enough
life jackets for all on deck so the four chaplains gave their
life jackets to others. The chaplains, Catholic, Jewish, Methodist,
and Reform, locked arms, prayed and comforted others as the
ship sank into the frigid Atlantic. For their heroism, Congress
awarded them a Special Medal of Valor never given before and
never to be given again.
JIMA FLAG RAISING
|The flag raising on Iwo Jima, in February 1945, is the best
known photograph of World War II. The photo was a re-enactment
of the first flag raising four hours earlier.
|The Battle of the Philippine Sea was a large-scale naval
action fought in June 1944 in response to American landings
on Saipan. Over 300 enemy planes were reported destroyed by
U.S. planes and anti-aircraft fire before the Japanese withdrew.
American sailors, who witnessed the action, dubbed the battle:
“The Marianas Turkey Shoot.”
|The Mariners, known as the Merchant Marines, began 12 June
1775. Presidents and military leaders have acknowledged that
the role of transporting troops and supplies is essential
to the welfare of the nation. During World War II the Merchant
Marines had a higher percentage of war related deaths than
all other United States Armed Forces. It was not until 1998
that all World War II Mariners who served in hazardous waters
received Veteran status.
|During World War I Choctaw Indians were used to communicate
in their language. During World War II Comanche Indians were
used in Europe for the same reason. The Marine Corps, in search
of an unbreakable code, recruited Navajo Indians during World
War II. A code was developed based on the Navajo language,
which was unwritten and understood only by the trained Navajo,
making it impossible for the enemy to understand battlefield
communications. The code continued in use through the Korean
and Vietnam Wars and was never broken. In December 1971, the
President of the United States awarded the Navajo Code Talkers
a Certificate of Appreciation.
|The first formal United States code breakers were established
before World War I. When Hitler invaded Poland in 1939 they
had a staff of 19, by the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor
in 1941 a staff of 331, and in a few years a staff of thousands.
The success of the code breakers was vital to the outcome
of World War II. They were critical to the outcome at the
Battle of Midway, a turning point of the war in the Pacific.
|The atomic bombs that ended World War II were dropped over
Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, on 6 and 9 August 1945. The
United States estimates deaths of up to 110,000 while Japan
estimates a total of 240,000. The two bombs each had an explosive
force of nearly 20,000 tons of TNT.
|On 14 August 1945, the Emperor announced Japan’s intent
to surrender. On 2 September 1945, aboard the USS Missouri,
Japan signed Documents of Surrender with the Allied Powers.
World War II ended with the remarks, “That from this
solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood
and carnage of the past.”
|On 22 January 1944, Allied Troops landed near Anzio, Italy
to achieve one of the most complete military surprises in
history. Little resistance was met during the landing, however,
the next four months saw some of the most savage fighting
of World War II. During the campaign the Allies suffered over
29,200 combat casualties, including 4,400 killed.
|The 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team was the
most decorated military unit in United States history for
its size and length of service. It was a World War II Japanese-American
unit which earned 18,000 individual decorations, 9,486 Purple
Hearts, seven Presidential Citations, and twenty-one Medals
of Honor. The records show the unit never had a desertion.
The majority served while their families were in detention
units in the United States.
|The Allied invasion of Europe was delayed on two occasions
by inclement weather. A break in the weather prompted the
launch of “Operation Overlord” on 6 June 1944.
The invasion was the largest force ever assembled in military
history. The landing location was a complete surprise to Germany.
The Allied Forces landed simultaneously on French beaches
named Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword. Casualties were
high but the beaches were secured within twenty-four hours.
After three weeks of fighting, the Allies put ashore one million
troops. Over three million combat and support personnel with
more than 20,000 vehicles were involved in this invasion known
OF THE BULGE
|In December 1944, a few Allied, battle-weary, veterans and
some of the greenest troops in Europe held the Ardennes Forest
area on the German-Belgium border. At dawn on 16 December,
the German army launched the largest land battle of World
War II. More than one million men participated in this battle
with staggering casualties on both sides. The battle lasted
until the end of January during the coldest, snowiest weather
in memory. The Battle of the Bulge was one of the worst battles
of World War II and signaled the defeat of Germany just a
few months away.
|During World War II, over 400,000 German prisoners-of-war
were interned in the United States. Six thousand were sent
to Minnesota to work on farms, in canneries, logging camps
or wherever help was needed. Minnesota had 21 camps including
Faribault, Owatonna, Hollandale and St. Charles. After repatriation
more than 5,000 former enemy prisoners returned to the United
States and became citizens.
|Mayo’s commitment to the military began with the Civil
War when William W. Mayo was named examining surgeon for the
enrollment board for the First Minnesota District. He served
from April 1863 until February 1865.
Charles and Will Mayo served on the Medical Board For National
Defense. In 1916 the board, working through the Red Cross,
organized 50 base hospitals. One was organized through the
University of Minnesota with financial support and staff from
the Mayo Clinic.
In 1928, the Mayo Clinic Plummer Building was dedicated with
the 23-bell carillon dedicated to the American soldier.
In 1934, the American Legion recognized W. J. and C. H. Mayo
for "distinguished service to our sick and disabled comrades
and to suffering humanity." President Franklin D. Roosevelt
presented a plaque to the brothers at Soldiers Field Memorial
Park on 8 August 1934.
Mayo research on oxygen requirements in humans, the development
of the oxygen mask and an antigravity suit enabled high altitude
flying. President Roosevelt recognized Mayo's efforts by presenting
them with the highest U.S. aviation award in 1940.
In 1944, two Mayo Medical Units served in the Pacific Theater
until the end of World War II.
|In April 1945, Nazi Death Camps were liberated across Eastern
Europe. American GIs saw horrors that would stay in their
minds forever. They smelled nauseating death and discovered
rooms piled with suitcases, shoes, clothing, teeth, hair,
and glasses, reminders of the millions of prisoners who had
passed through the gates of the death camps. Soldiers of all
ranks were horrified when they discovered gas chambers and
ovens used to exterminate human beings, mostly Jews. In the
Nazis haste to flee, prisoners were left as walking skeletons
confused by their sudden freedom. The GIs offered whatever
they could to give hope to the survivors.
|On 7 May 1945, Germany surrendered, ending World War II
in Europe. The surrender was reenacted the following day so
8 May is known as Victory in Europe (VE Day). The Allied Commander
announced the surrender with the words, “The mission
of this Allied Force was fulfilled at 0241 local time 7 May
IN THE MILITARY
|Black Americans were initially recruited to serve in the
Revolutionary War. Post-war laws first denied Blacks access
to military service, but they eventually fought and served
valiantly in all of the wars since 1812. Initially denied
freedoms, suffering rejection and segregation, they proved
themselves capable and courageous in fulfilling escalating
responsibilities in recognition of their abilities. Fully
integrated at the start of the Korean conflict and since,
Black Americans confirmed their ability to perform in battle
and at high levels of responsibility.
IN THE MILITARY
|Women have played important military roles since the Revolutionary
War. Although unfairly treated in early wars, they distinguished
themselves in teaching sanitation, nursing and spying. Disguised
as men, they fought on battlefields. Although women were authorized
to serve as nurses in 1861, they were not eligible for health
care, salary and a uniform until 1899. During World War II,
opposition to women in the military was strong. In May of
1942, the Women’s Auxiliary Corps was formed to serve
with the Army but did not receive military status until August
1943. The Nurse Corps was denied rank until 1947 and veteran
status until 1977. Women are now integrated into the military
and serve in all capacities and levels of command.