The Raid on Truk Lagoon: Many Younger Americans Have Gained the Impression That America Dropped Atomic Bombs on Japan to Avenge Pearl Harbor, but Our Revenge Happened at Truk Lagoon

By McGrath, Roger D. | The New American, February 21, 2011 | Go to article overview

The Raid on Truk Lagoon: Many Younger Americans Have Gained the Impression That America Dropped Atomic Bombs on Japan to Avenge Pearl Harbor, but Our Revenge Happened at Truk Lagoon


McGrath, Roger D., The New American


Having grown up during the years following World War II, it never fails to surprise me how little most people who haven't reached their mid-60s know of that epic conflict, especially the Pacific Theater. During the 1950s, we did not have to be formally taught about World War IT--it was a topic in everyone's home. Every family had a veteran or two or had lost a son. War movies were regular fare at our local theater. The first series I watched on television was the incomparable Victory at Sea. The documentary footage, the music, and the narration--both the script and the delivery by Leonard Graves--penetrated into my heart and soul and have never left. It seemed that a new book on the war came out every week, and newspapers and magazines were full of articles about the war.

Because of all this, formal education contributed little to my knowledge of the war. Better to ask someone in the family who was there or read a book outside of school than ask a teacher. Most of the things that I had once assumed everyone knew about the war, though, have long ago been forgotten. One of the principal examples is what we called "payback for Pearl Harbor." Today, people think of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That was not the ease in WWII and certainly not the way we learned it growing up. Payback for Pearl Harbor was the U.S. Navy's famous air raid on Truk Lagoon during February 1944.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Truk Atoll lies seven degrees north of the equator in the southwestern Pacific, some 1,000 miles northeast of New Guinea and 3,300 miles southwest of Hawaii. Dozens of islands and a great barrier reef make up the atoll, although only seven of the islands are of any size or have any significant population. The larger islands are marked by volcanic peaks, the tallest nearly 1,500 feet above sea level. The barrier reef, roughly triangular in shape and 140 miles around, forms a vast deep-water lagoon of more than 800 square miles. Visibility in the water of the lagoon is 50 feet or more. Abundant rainfall and sunshine, and a year-round average temperature of 81 degrees, leave the islands green and lush. Truk is a Pacific paradise.

A Quick Take on Truk

Archaeological evidence suggests that the first people arrived at Truk some 2,000 years ago, sailing outrigger canoes. They found a lagoon teaming with marine life and the fertile larger islands covered with indigenous trees and plants, including breadfruit, coconut, mango, banana, and taro. Although the original inhabitants must have found Truk a paradise, life was not paradisiacal. Warfare among the inhabitants of different islands and between different factions on the same island was not unusual. War clubs crushed many a skull. Moreover, human sacrifice and cannibalism were common practices. Victims were not only enemy warriors captured in battle, but also young maidens offered up to a volcano god.

The first Europeans arrived when the Spanish explorer Alonso de Arellano sailed his ship, San Lucas, into the lagoon in January 1565. Although Spain laid claim to Truk, and the rest of the Caroline Islands--named for Charles II of Spain--she did not bother to take formal control for more than 300 years. In the meantime, explorers from Portugal, England, France, the United States, Russia, and Germany also visited the atoll. By the middle of the 19th century, European and American traders, whalers, and missionaries were visiting Truk. Japanese traders began arriving during the 1890s. One, Mori Koben, married a chief's daughter, became a successful planter and trader, and amassed a small fortune.

The Spanish-American War saw control of Micronesia, including the Caroline Islands and Truk, pass from Spain to the United States. The United Stales, however, focused American ambitions on the Philippines and sold Micronesia, except for Guam in the Marianas, to Germany for $4.2 million. German rule was relaxed and benevolent, and short-lived. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Raid on Truk Lagoon: Many Younger Americans Have Gained the Impression That America Dropped Atomic Bombs on Japan to Avenge Pearl Harbor, but Our Revenge Happened at Truk Lagoon
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.