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What the Guadalcanal campaign revealed about the nature of warfare — and why it matters for modern conflicts
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on The Conversation.
Between Aug. 7, 1942, and Feb. 9, 1943, U.S. forces sought to capture – and then defend – the Pacific island of Guadalcanal from the Japanese military. What started as an amphibious landing quickly turned into a series of massive air and naval battles. The campaign marked a major turning point in the Pacific theater of World War II.
It also revealed important lessons about the nature of warfare itself – ones that are particularly relevant when planning for conflict in the 21st century.
Seventy-five years ago, on Aug. 7, 1942, the Allied offensive against Japan began with the invasion of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. The fight for the small tropical isle became a grueling half-year campaign, with the U.S. Marines locked in an unforgiving struggle against the Japanese troops. But a newly formed American unit was there to meet them: the Marine Raiders. Here’s how the elite force persevered, as told by one of its last surviving members.
A routine traffic stop and speeding ticket in June became the catalyst for a patriotic display on Aug. 6, when police officers escorted 96-year-old Marine Corps vet Harold Sheffield from Bristol, New Hampshire, to the state line in a “rolling salute.”
To Hershel “Woody” Williams, the Medal of Honor he wears around his neck does not belong to him. It’s not because he isn’t worthy of it, he undoubtedly is. For Williams, the medal belongs to the men who never made it home.
After Navy veteran Jack Holder, had his life savings stolen in a sweepstakes scam, a GoFundMe page created in his name raised enough money to cover his losses, with some to spare.
On April 7, 1943, Medal of Honor recipient and Marine fighter ace James E. Swett shot down 7 Japanese bombers, taking out four all on his own after he became separated from his wingmen.