Lifeline to Rendova

The invasion of Rendova was one of the more obscure operations in the Pacific. In a nutshell, the small island was seized by the 172nd Regimental Combat Team in order to provide a base for long range artillery to pound the Japanese airfield and defenses at Munda Point on the island of New Georgia.

Like so many other operations in World War II, the operation was filmed by combat camera crews. And like so many others, the film was edited and released to the public. Usually these short 10-20 minute pieces would be shown before the feature at a movie theater, along with a newsreel or two.

These films were both for the general information on the war effort, and, of course, propaganda designed to generate support for the war effort on the home front.

This short film about Rendova gives an overview of the operation itself. The second half of the film focuses on the treatment of the wounded, and shows both that treatment and the production of medical supplies that the home front effort supported.

What’s remarkable about this 1943 film is that it breaks one of the taboos of wartime press. Showing Japanese dead was rather routine. But when it came to American troops, the rules were different.  It was understood that photographs and film could show wounded US troops, but not the dead. This film, however, indeed shows the bodies of Americans fallen in battle, though carefully so that no individuals might be identified. It’s also somewhat more graphic than usual in showing the actual wounds of Americans.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgd3N40XSG4]

Army in the Pacific adopts new style of deployment – Pacific – Stripes

The Army in the Pacific is starting a new deployment concept this week that sends soldiers out into the region for multiple exercises and longer stays in foreign countries that are intended to reassure partner nations and develop closer relationships as the United States continues its “rebalance” to the Pacific.

Developed out of Fort Shafter, “Pacific Pathways” also is a new Army strategy to stay relevant as large occupational land forces that are costly and slow to mobilize become less viable.

About 550 soldiers with the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team out of Washington state and supporting units are heading to Indonesia for the exercise Garuda Shield in the first iteration of Pacific Pathways, the Army said.

The soldiers will utilize nine Stryker armored vehicles and eight helicopters.

About 500 other 2nd Stryker and supporting soldiers will head to Malaysia with 11 Stryker vehicles and three helicopters for the exercise Keris Strike, which overlaps with the Indonesia training.

The first group of 550 soldiers and others will then leapfrog over to Japan for Orient Shield, the Army said.

via Army in the Pacific adopts new style of deployment – Pacific – Stripes.

My tour in the 25th ID meant I was part of US Army Pacific. And at that time, there was a fairly regular schedule of international training exercises with a wide variety of nations throughout the Pacific. Team Spirit was the biggest, partnering the US Army with the Republic of Korea. Generally, in addition to the 2nd Infantry Division stationed in Korea, at least a brigade from the 25th ID would deploy for the exercise, in addition to various Air Force, Navy and Marine units. Other major exercises included Cobra Gold with Thailand, and various smaller, usually battalion sized deployments to Japan, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

Given that there were 9 Infantry battalions in the division, a soldier could expect to only participate in one or two major deployments of about one month in a year. That reduced the burden of a high operational tempo and spread the benefits of training exercises across all the units of the division.

That didn’t count the availability of the 7th and 9th Infantry Divisions to send troops on their own training deployments.

During the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army had a crushing operational tempo, with some soldiers spending half their enlistments deployed overseas to a war zone. The risks of battle are bad enough, but the disruption to any chance at a semblance of a family life drive many of the best and brightest out the door. And somewhat obviously, the longer a soldier stayed in, the longer they could anticipate being deployed.

So I’m not entirely sure the 550 or so troops are going to be thrilled to deploy on a series of back to back training missions overseas, away from their homes and families, when they might reasonably point out that other troops might be available to take of month of training of their own.

Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941- A Date That Will Live In Infamy

In spite of increasing tensions in the Pacific, and over two years of war in Europe, the morning of December 7, 1941 found the Navy, Army, Army Air Forces and Marines at Pearl Harbor and various installations across Oahu enjoying the usual peacetime Sunday routine, with many men on liberty or pass, and others just stirring for Morning Colors.

The peace and quiet were shattered by an enormous raid by the splendidly trained carrier pilots of the Kido Butai. From just before 8am to around 9:30am, a total of 353 Japanese warplanes ravaged ships, airfields, and installations throughout the island, most famously devastating the ships of Battleship Row, gutting the heart of the Pacific Fleet. Of 390 US aircraft on the island that morning, over three hundred would be destroyed or damaged.

Two thousand and forty-two American sailors, soldiers and Marines died in the perfidious attack. Another fourteen hundred were wounded. The single largest loss of life would come with the sinking of the battleship USS Arizona early in the attack. The explosion of her magazines shattered her, sank her, and killed a stunning 1,177 sailors.

The US had a decidedly isolationist sentiment in the years leading to the attack. Even as America slowly came to rearm in the face of the European war and an expansionist Japan, there was little public support for joining the great conflagration beyond our shores.

That sentiment ended abruptly with the Japanese attack. The American people would become united in a campaign to visit vengeance, retribution and retaliation upon Japan. As Yamamoto had predicted, Japan had awakened a sleeping giant. It had sown the wind, and within three and a half years, it would reap the whirlwind.

http://jerrygarrett.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/uss_arizona_memorial.jpg

The USS Arizona came to symbolize the attack on Pearl Harbor. Our first major loss of the war, she went down with her colors flying, and guns firing. She was never decommissioned, and never stricken from the Naval Register. Every day, a color guard raises the colors of this still serving warship. And every day, Americans visit the memorial built across her hull, to pay tribute to those who rest the eternal rest within her shattered hull. Oil from her bunkers still slowly seeps into the waters of the harbor, as if the mighty ship weeps for the sacrifice of so many.

*Update- changed “day” to “date” in the title. I *knew* what FDR said in his address, but my fingers this morning didn’t, and Mr. Coffee wasn’t there to correct them.