Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Pondering the Pacific

Anniversaries relating to the Pacific War tends to get less attention in the American media than those of the European War.  Today is the anniversary of Midway, which turned the tide in the Pacific.  Before that battle, besides the Doolittle mission (whose success was almost entirely symbolic), there were no victories.

The US subs were fighting hard but the torpedoes were iffy at best.  The Battle of the Coral Sea was seen, as far as I can remember, a draw.  Midway's outcome was much, much clearer--four Japanese carriers lost to one American, and the end of any Japanese naval effort to extend its control.  Because the Americans could and did make many new carriers, and the Japanese could not, these losses were huge, along with Japan's loss of experienced pilots. 

Guadalcanal came later, as did the landings in Africa.  So, it is pretty clear Midway was the turning point, but it does not get much recognition because it happened in early June, and is, thus, in the shadows of the D-Day anniversaries.

Thanks to Steven Speilberg and Tom Hanks, when we think of D-Day these days, we think of Band of Brothers, which documented quite well how one company played a role in that Day of Days.   The show is eminently re-watchable, and I have done that more than a few times.

How about their "The Pacific"?  I am now watching it for the second time.  It really is terrific.  Alan Sepinwall, the TV critic, responded to my tweet thusly:

Why?  Because as violent and horrible as the European War was (D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge in particular demonstrate that), the Marines fought in an especially brutal campaign.  Fighting the jungle, fighting the rain, and fighting the Japanese made for a very tough watching... and I have not yet gotten to Pelelieu or Iwo Jima yet.  Watching The Pacific is like watching the BoB episode "The Breaking Point" about five or six or seven times.  Oh my.  Still, as we remember the soldiers, sailors and airmen who fought on D-Day, we need to remember the Marines, the sailors and airmen who fought in the Pacific.

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