VBC member and Military Historian Jeff Ballard sent this wonderful photo from the American Memorial on Guadalcanal in the Soloman Islands last week. Note the latest VBC Magazine Jeff is holding.
Jeff was there for the 81st Anniversary of the Battle of Guadalcanal, which occurred in August 1942.
The battle was an early pivotal engagement between the United States and Japan in World War II. The US aimed to halt the Japanese advance down the island chain and prevent Japanese control of strategic locations. It was also a key test of strength. Could us US fight toe-to-toe with Imperial Japan in the Pacific?
Allied forces landed on Guadalcanal on August 6, 1942. Within 36 hours, they had captured a crucial airstrip named Henderson Field, enabling Allied air attacks during the Pacific island-hopping campaign.
What was supposed to last a few weeks dragged on for months and encompassed land, sea, and air campaigns. In the end, and after 27,000 killed on both sides, the Japanese withdrew.
Jeff joined hundreds of others who traveled to Guadalcanal from the United States to pay tribute to those who fought.
Marine Lt. Col. Robert J. Hillery, commanding officer of Task Force Koa Moana 23, spoke at the ceremony on August 7, commemorating the sacrifices made during the battle and acknowledging the contributions of the Solomon Islanders.
For Jeff, a leading expert on the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal and the naval aspects of the Pacific War generally, the trip was a learning experience.
From Jeff’s location in the photo on Skyline Drive, you can see almost the entire Marine perimeter and the battlefield sites inside and outside of the perimeter.
“Upon surveying Lunga Point I was struck by a few things. Firstly, the Marine position is much smaller than I imagined. The hillsides are incredibly steep. The jungle is much denser than you can imagine.”
He was off to visit the John Basilone Medal of Honor site next. We look forward to a report from Jeff of his remarkable trip!