Island Hopping in the Pacific
Despite his attempts to keep the United States out of World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his administration felt there was no choice but to act when Japan dropped a bomb on Pearl Harbor, the naval base located in Hawaii. More than 2,000 people were killed in the surprise attack on December 7, 1941, so many saw America's entrance into war as a way to avenge their dead.
In order to defeat Japan, the United States came up with a plan that was known as “Island Hopping”. Through this measure, the U.S. hoped to gain military bases and secure as many small islands in the Pacific as they could. The “Island Hopping” plan would span three years and would take the U.S. military in almost a full circle around the Pacific Islands.
In the Battle of Midway, which occurred in early June of 1942, the United States was successful in defeating a large Japanese force. This battle is seen as a turning point in the history of the U.S.-Japanese conflict during this time, as the Navy was able to inflict tremendous damage on Japanese fleets.
Months later, spanning August of 1942 to February of 1943, the two countries would be embroiled in the Guadalcanal Campaign in the British Solomon Islands. This campaign was the first major Allied offensive on land against the Japanese forces, although there were other battles which took place on the water as part of this six-month operation.
The last year of World War II, 1945, saw two major battles that would prove to be devastating to the Japanese. The first was the Battle of Iwo Jima, named for the island that the Allies would take from the Imperial Japanese Army. The two sides would fight for a total of 36 days, resulting in a U.S. death toll of 6,800. In gaining the island, the United States set up an important island area that could be used to better plan for a mainland invasion of Japan. At the conclusion of the battle, U.S. forces famously raised a flag on Mt. Suribachi.
From April to June of 1945, American and Japanese forces engaged in the 82-day Battle of Okinawa, which was the single bloodiest battle over a tiny island close to mainland Japan. The battle resulted in the highest amount of casualties on both sides, and is looked at as the last major battle of the War.