Page Updated 01/12/11
Naval Aviation News logo


Strategic Guam

U.S. Marine on wrecked Zero

THIS MARINE stands triumphant over the rising sun on the wing of a Japanese plane shattered in the battle for the Marianas, Saipan and Tinian have been captured.  The Marines are back again on Guam and the American flag flies once more over the island.  The Marianas were hit for the first time on February 22 and 23, 1944, when an American task force struck at Saipan and Tinian.  On the morning of June 15 the first U.S.  landing boats and amphibious tractors grounded on the shores of Saipan and after 25 days of hard fighting the island was declared officially conquered.  On July 20 American amphibious forces landed on Guam and three days later Tinian was invaded.  Until the invasion of these islands the American bases nearest Japan were those in the Marshalls, almost 3,000 miles away. That distance had now been halved.  The strategic location of the Marianas made it possible to set up a naval and air barricade across direct Japanese communications to the south and offered a springboard for new blows against the heart of the Jap empire.

THE JAPS had heavily fortified these islands so important in their defense system.  Well-entrenched troops were supported by a considerable air force from nearby islands.  In this crucial battle the Japs did not dare risk their fleet except in a limited way on one occasion.  Jap carriers sent in planes they hoped might get back by refueling on other islands in the vicinity.  This action cost the Japs 373 planes in two days, as well as considerable damage to their fleet which withdrew.