Pacific Ocean theater of World War II

The Pacific Ocean theater, during World War II, was a major theater of the war between the Allies and the Empire of Japan. It was defined by the Allied powers' Pacific Ocean Area command, which included most of the Pacific Ocean and its islands, while mainland Asia was excluded, as were the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies, Borneo, Australia, most of the Territory of New Guinea and the western part of the Solomon Islands.

It officially came into existence on March 30, 1942, when US Admiral Chester Nimitz was appointed Supreme Allied Commander Pacific Ocean Areas.[1] In the other major theater in the Pacific region, known as the South West Pacific theatre, Allied forces were commanded by US General Douglas MacArthur. Both Nimitz and MacArthur were overseen by the US Joint Chiefs and the Western Allies Combined Chiefs of Staff (CCoS).

Most Japanese forces in the theater were part of the Combined Fleet (聯合艦隊 Rengō Kantai) of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN), which was responsible for all Japanese warships, naval aircraft, and marine infantry units. The Rengō Kantai was led by Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, until he was killed in an attack by U.S. fighter planes in April 1943.[2] Yamamoto was succeeded by Admiral Mineichi Koga (1943–44)[2] and Admiral Soemu Toyoda (1944–45).[3] The General Staff (参謀本部 Sanbō Honbu) of the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) was responsible for Imperial Japanese Army ground and air units in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. The IJN and IJA did not formally use joint/combined staff at the operational level, and their command structures/geographical areas of operations overlapped with each other and those of the Allies.

In the Pacific Ocean theater, Japanese forces fought primarily against the United States Navy, the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Army. The United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and other Allied nations also contributed forces.

Carrier shokaku
Japanese naval aircraft prepare to take off from an aircraft carrier.
Pacific WWII command
The Western Allies' command structure in the Pacific
U.S. 5th Marines evacuate injured personnel during actions on Guadalcanal on November 1, 1942.
SBD VB-16 over USS Washington 1943
An SBD Dauntless flies patrol over USS Washington and USS Lexington during the Gilbert and Marshall Islands campaign, November 12, 1943.
USS Bunker Hill hit by two Kamikazes
USS Bunker Hill hit by two Kamikazes in thirty seconds on 11 May 1945 off Kyushu.

Major campaigns and battles


  1. ^ Cressman 2000, p.84
  2. ^ a b Potter & Nimitz (1960) p.717
  3. ^ Potter & Nimitz (1960) pp.759–760
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Silverstone (1968) pp.9–11
  5. ^ Potter & Nimitz (1960) pp.651–652
  6. ^ Kafka & Pepperburg (1946) p.185
  7. ^ Potter & Nimitz (1960) p.751
  8. ^ Ofstie (1946) p.194
  9. ^ Potter & Nimitz (1960) p.761
  10. ^ Potter & Nimitz (1960) p.765
  11. ^ a b Potter & Nimitz (1960) p.770
  12. ^ a b c d Ofstie (1946) p.275


The following references are arranged in inverse chronology:

  • Toll, Ian (2012). Pacific Crucible: War at Sea in the Pacific, 1941–1942. W. W. Norton and Company. ISBN 0-393-34341-3.
  • Miller, Edward S. (2007). War Plan Orange: The U.S. Strategy to Defeat Japan, 1897–1945. US Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-500-7.
  • Cressman, Robert J. (2000). The Official Chronology of the U.S. Navy in World War II. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-149-1.
  • Drea, Edward J. (1998). In the Service of the Emperor: Essays on the Imperial Japanese Army. Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 0-8032-1708-0.
  • Hakim, Joy (1995). A History of Us: War, Peace and all that Jazz. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509514-6.
  • Silverstone, Paul H. (1968). U.S. Warships of World War II. Doubleday and Company.
  • Potter, E.B.; Chester W. Nimitz (1960). Sea Power. Prentice-Hall.
  • Kafka, Roger; Pepperburg, Roy L. (1946). Warships of the World. New York: Cornell Maritime Press.
  • Ofstie, Ralph A. (1946). The Campaigns of the Pacific War. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office.
318th Fighter Group

The 318th Fighter Group was a World War II United States Army Air Forces combat organization. It served primarily in the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II.

331st Air Expeditionary Group

The 331st Bombardment Group is an inactive United States Air Force unit. It was last assigned to the 315th Bombardment Wing, being stationed at Northwest Field, Guam. It was inactivated on 15 April 1946.

During World War II, the unit was initially a B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator operational training unit (OTU). Redesignated as a replacement training unit (RTU) in December 1943. Inactivated on 1 April 1944 when Second Air Force switched to B-29 Superfortress training. Late in the war the group was reactivated and trained as a Very Heavy (VH) B-29 Superfortress group The group served in the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II as part of Twentieth Air Force. The 331st Bomb Group's aircraft engaged in very heavy bombardment B-29 Superfortress operations against Japan.

502d Bombardment Group

The 502d Bombardment Group (502d BG) was a World War II United States Army Air Forces combat organization. The unit was inactivated on 15 April 1946.

The unit served primarily in the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II as part of Twentieth Air Force. The 502d Bomb Group's aircraft engaged in very heavy bombardment B-29 Superfortress operations against Japan. Its aircraft were identified by a "H" inside a diamond painted on the tail.

504th Bombardment Group

The 504th Bombardment Group (504th BG) was a World War II United States Army Air Forces combat organization. It was inactivated on 15 June 1946.

The unit served primarily in the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II as part of Twentieth Air Force. The 504th Bomb Group's aircraft engaged in B-29 Superfortress bombardment operations against Japan. Its aircraft were identified by a "E" inside a Circle painted on the tail.

The 504th Bombardment Group flew the last combat mission by the United States Army Air Forces of World War II, its last combat mission being on 15 August 1945.

505th Bombardment Group

The 505th Bombardment Group is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last assignment was with Thirteenth Air Force, stationed at Clark Field, Philippines. It was inactivated on 30 June 1946.

The unit served primarily in the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II as part of Twentieth Air Force. The 505th Bomb Group's aircraft engaged in B-29 Superfortress bombardment operations against Japan. Its aircraft were identified by a "K" (January to March 1945) or "W" (April to September 1945) inside a Circle painted on the tail.

513th Air Control Group

The 513th Air Control Group is an Air Reserve Component unit of the United States Air Force. It is assigned to the Tenth Air Force, Air Force Reserve Command, and is stationed at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma.

The group's mission is to provide theater and Air Force commanders with trained aircrews and maintenance personnel and systems for airborne surveillance, warning and control of U.S. and allied military aircraft.

The 513th is an associate unit of the 552d Air Control Wing, Air Combat Command (ACC) and if mobilized, the group is gained by ACC.

Its World War II predecessor, the 3d Combat Cargo Group was a United States Army Air Forces combat organization. It served primarily in the China Burma India Theater and Pacific Ocean Theater of World War II. In 1948, the group was redesignated as the 513th Troop Carrier Group.

Dan Fortmann

Daniel John Fortmann (April 11, 1916 – May 23, 1995) was an American football player, coach, and team doctor. He played college football at Colgate University. He played in the National Football League (NFL) for the Chicago Bears as a guard from 1936 to 1943. He was selected as an All-Pro for seven consecutive years from 1937 to 1943. He was the Bears' team captain starting in 1940 and led the team to NFL championships in 1940, 1941, and 1943.

Fortmann was the line coach for the Pittsburgh Panthers football team in 1944 and in 1945 served in the United States Navy in the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II. He engaged in a medical practice in Southern California from 1946 to 1984 and was the team physician for the Los Angeles Rams from 1947 to 1963. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 1983.

Guam Highway 6

Guam Highway 6 (GH-6) is one of the primary automobile highways in the United States territory of Guam. It is known alternately as Spruance Drive and Halsey Drive: both named for noteworthy US Navy Admirals that served in the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II: Raymond A. Spruance and William Halsey Jr., respectively.

H. Burke Peterson

Harold Burke Peterson (September 19, 1923 – April 14, 2013) was a general authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 1972 until his death. He was a counselor to the presiding bishop and a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. He became an emeritus general authority in 1993.

Peterson was born in Salt Lake City, Utah and was raised in Phoenix, Arizona, where he became an Eagle Scout. Beginning in 1940, Peterson attended Phoenix College, and in 1942 he joined the United States Navy. He completed a civil engineering course of study at the University of Oklahoma and became a Seabee, working on projects in the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II.

After the war, he earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona and taught at the Utah State Agricultural College while he earned his master's degree there. After graduating, he worked in Phoenix with the United States Department of Agriculture. In 1955, he and two other Latter-day Saints founded a civil engineering firm.

In 1947 Peterson married Brookie Cardon in the Mesa Arizona Temple. They eventually had five daughters.

Prior to his call as a general authority, Peterson served in the LDS Church as a bishop and stake president in Phoenix; then later as a regional representative for the Phoenix, Mesa, and Tempe regions. On 6 April 1972, Peterson was appointed as first counselor to Victor L. Brown, the church's presiding bishop. Peterson acted in this capacity until 1985, when Brown was succeeded by Robert D. Hales.

When he was released from the presiding bishopric, Peterson became a member of the church's First Quorum of the Seventy. He served as president of the Jordan River Utah Temple 1985 to 1987. Peterson continued his responsibilities as a general authority until he was granted emeritus status in October 1993.

Peterson died at his home in Bountiful, Utah, four months after his wife died.

J. F. Coleman

James Francis Coleman (June 2, 1918 – May 13, 2014), nicknamed "Skeets", was an American military fighter and test pilot.Born in Chicago, Illinois, Coleman joined the United States Marine Corps in 1941. During the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II, he was a fighter pilot flying dive bombing missions. After the war, he received an aeronautical engineering degree from UCLA. From 1948 to 1950, he oversaw the operation of the now-defunct Del Mar Airport in San Diego, California. He would go on to work in sales and marketing for aviation companies, such as North American Aviation and Fairchild Aircraft.

In 1951, Convair, an airplane manufacturer, was one of two companies contracted by the U.S. Navy to construct and test a vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) fighter. Convair created the tail-sitter XFY Pogo. Coleman, a Marine reservist and Convair employee, was chosen to be its test pilot when it was ready in 1954. Although the Pogo's liftoffs and transitions went smoothly, Coleman and other pilots had difficulty landing it, which had to be done visually from the cockpit. The Pogo project would prove to be unwieldy and was discontinued. About the project, Coleman stated, "It was a developmental power plant, it was a developmental airplane, a developmental concept. It's pretty hard to tie all of those together without having a lot of risk". For being the first pilot to successfully maneuver a VTOL fighter, Coleman was awarded the Harmon Trophy in 1954.Coleman resigned from Convair, it was announced on 3 April 1956.In 2014, Coleman died of natural causes at an assisted-living facility in Oceanside, California. He was 95. He was survived by three children.

Jay Morago

Jay R. Morago Jr. (June 17, 1917 – May 14, 2008) (Pima) was an activist of the Gila River Indian Community and was elected as their first Governor. He helped to draft the reservation's first constitution in 1960. Morago served as the Governor of the Gila River Indian Community from 1954 until 1960.Jay Morago was born in Sacaton, Arizona, to parents Jay R. and Florence Morago on June 17, 1917. He attended Arizona State College, which has developed as Arizona State University.During World War II, Morago served as a sergeant in the 158th Bushmasters Regiment of the Arizona National Guard. He saw active duty in the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II in Noemfoor, Indonesia; Philippines, Dutch East Indies, and New Guinea campaigns during the war. Morago was awarded four Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart for his service and being wounded on active duty. He remained active in veterans' affairs for the rest of his life, becoming a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter in Coolidge, Arizona, and the Ira Hayes American Legion Post in Sacaton.Morago was elected as the first Governor of the Gila River Indian Community in 1954. He held the governorship of the reservation, which includes members of both the Akimel O'odham and Maricopa tribes, until 1960. During the 1950s, Morago led an effort to secure water rights for the Gila River Indian Community from the state and federal governments, which had gradually appropriated them over the years. He also helped to establish and draft the 1960 constitution for the Gila River Indian Community. Additionally, Morago served on the Gila River Farm Board.Morago remained active in the Gila River Indian Community after leaving office. He worked professionally as a water master for the United States federal government until his retirement. In that position, he managed irrigation and water allotments.Jay Morago died at the age of 90 at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, on May 14, 2008, after a long struggle with cancer. His funeral was held at the St. Anthony Catholic Mission in Sacaton, the capital of the Gila River Indian Community. He was buried at the St. Anne Cemetery in Santan, Arizona. Morago's wife was Mary Catherine Morago. He was survived by two sisters, seven daughters, three sons, nineteen grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren.

Leonard G. Wolf

Leonard George Wolf (October 29, 1925 – March 28, 1970) was a one-term Democratic U.S. Representative from Iowa's 2nd congressional district. He was elected in 1958 and defeated in 1960 when seeking re-election.

Born on a farm in Dane County, Wisconsin, near Mazomanie, Wolf attended the public schools of Mazomanie, Wisconsin.

He served in the United States Navy from 1944 to 1946, in the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II.

He graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in agricultural economics in 1949 and moved to Elkader, Iowa, the same year.

In Elkader, he worked as a retail feed dealer from 1952 to 1958, while delivering public speeches and lectures.

Wolf tried and failed to win election to the U.S. House in 1956, running against longtime incumbent Republican Henry O. Talle. His chances were aided by a drop in farm prices but hurt by the presence of a popular president at the top of the Republican ticket. Wolf lost, but received a higher percentage of the votes than any of Talle's previous opponents.

In the mid-term elections two years later, the prices farmers received for their products had increased, but not enough to counterbalance an even greater increase in costs, leading to an anti-Republican mood among the farmers and farm communities that served as the Republicans' traditional base in Iowa. That year, the parties' candidates in the district were the same as in 1956 and the election again was close, but the outcome was different; Wolf unseated Talle.

However, in 1960, as part of good year for Republicans in Iowa, Wolf was unseated by Republican James E. Bromwell. Wolf's congressional service began January 3, 1959, and ended January 3, 1961.

After leaving Congress, Wolf was active in efforts to prevent starvation and malnutrition. In 1961 was appointed special assistant to the director of the International Cooperation Administration's Mission in Brazil, where he served until 1965. He coordinated the child feeding program for Latin America (in 1966) and in India following a drought (in 1967). In 1968, he was appointed executive director of the American Freedom From Hunger Foundation.

Wolf died March 28, 1970, in Washington, D.C. He was interred in St. Barnabas Cemetery, Mazomanie, Wisconsin.

Merril Sandoval

Merril Sandoval (April 18, 1925 – February 9, 2008) was an American Navajo World War II veteran and a member of the Navajo Code Talkers, a group of United States Marines who transmitted important messages in their native Navajo language in order to stop the Japanese from intercepting sensitive material. Sandoval took part in every Marine landing in the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II from 1943 until 1945.

Pacific Ocean Areas (command)

Pacific Ocean Areas was a major Allied military command in the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II. It was one of four major Allied commands during the Pacific War, and one of three United States commands in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater. Admiral Chester W. Nimitz of the U.S. Navy, Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, headed the command throughout its existence.

The vast majority of Allied forces in the theatre were from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps. However units and/or personnel from New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Fiji and other countries also saw active service.

Ray Chapman (marksman)

Ray Chapman was an American sport shooter and firearms instructor who was central to the development of practical shooting in the late 1950s and one of the founders of the International Practical Shooting Confederation at the 1976 Columbia Conference. He won the first IPSC Handgun World Shoot in 1975 and took silver behind Jan Foss from Norway in the second World Shoot in 1976. He continued to compete until 1979 when he retired from competition.

In his mid-teens Chapman served in the United States Marine Corps at the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II after having lied about his age to enter. After the war he worked as a policeman for some time before he started working for the California Highway Department where he worked during the 1950s as an engineer. During that time, along with Jeff Cooper and others, he was one of the pioneers of the Southwest Pistol League.

In February 2008 Ray died peacefully at age 79 in a Texas hospital.

Shark repellent

A shark repellent is any method of driving sharks away from an area. Shark repellents are a category of animal repellents. Shark repellent technologies include magnetic shark repellent, electropositive shark repellents, electrical repellents, and semiochemicals. Shark repellents can be used to protect people from sharks by driving the sharks away from areas where they are likely to kill human beings. In other applications, they can be used to keep sharks away from areas they may be a danger to themselves due to human activity. In this case, the shark repellent serves as a shark conservation method. There are some naturally-occurring shark repellants; modern artificial shark repellants date to at least the 1940s, with the United States Navy using them in the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II.

South Pacific Combat Air Transport Command

South Pacific [SOPAC] Combat Air Transport Command (SCAT) was a joint command of US military logistics units in the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II. It contributed notably to the success of U.S. forces in the battles for Guadalcanal (1942–1943), New Georgia (1943), and Bougainville (1943-1945), as well as the Allied air campaign against Rabaul.

Type C1 ship

Type C1 was a designation for small cargo ships built for the U.S. Maritime Commission before and during World War II. The first C1 types were the smallest of the three original Maritime Commission designs, meant for shorter routes where high speed and capacity were less important. Only a handful were delivered prior to Pearl Harbor. But many C1-A and C1-B ships were already in the works and were delivered during 1942. Many were converted to military purposes including troop-transports during the war.

The Type C1-M ship was a separate design, for a significantly smaller and shallower draft vessel. This design evolved as an answer for the projected needs for military transport and supply of the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II.Type C1 ships under the control of the British Ministry of War Transport took an Empire name even if built with another name e.g. Cape Turner.

William Sample

William Dodge Sample (9 March 1898 – 2 October 1945) was a Rear Admiral in the United States Navy and an Escort Carrier Division commander in World War II. He was the youngest rear admiral in the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II.

Campaigns of World War II

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