pacific campaign

USMC war dog “Caesar von Steuben” is x-rayed by Navy corpsmen after being wounded on patrol during the fight for Bougainville. 

As with most of the dogs that fought with the United States military in World War II, the three year old German shepherd had been a civilian, owned by a family in the Bronx who volunteered him for service, one of thousands of families to offer their pet up for the war effort.

Only a select few were accepted into service, and even then they would undergo rigorous training to prepare them for life in the combat zone. In total, 1,074 dogs were ‘enlisted’ in the Marine Corps, and 29 would die in combat, along with just under 200 fatalities from disease or accidents. After the war, an outcry ended plans to euthanize the remaining veteran animals, and instead they were put through demilitarization training, with almost universal success. Many were returned to their families, although in more than a few cases, the Marine handler would bring the dog back to civilian life with him.

In Caesar’s case, he recovered from his wound quickly, and he received an official commendation for his communication runs prior to his wounding, including completing his ninth and final one while injured. Returned to service however, he would be killed in combat while fighting on Okinawa in 1945.

(National Archives)


“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” 
- G.K. Chesterton

Eugene B. “Sledgehammer” Sledge. Top image taken after his return from Peking in 1946, bottom image taken at the end of the campaign in a tent camp in Okinawa.

The photo of him sitting in camp is so eerily poignant and evocative to me…it’s the lost look in his eyes after experiencing what he and the others had.

U.S. Army soldiers on Bougainville advance on Japanese held positions under cover of an M4 Sherman tank during the Solomon Islands Campaign. The Japanese forces tried infiltrating the U.S. lines at night; at dawn, U.S. soldiers would clear them out. Bougainville Island, Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea. March 1944.

Chester Nez, last of original Navajo code talkers of World War II, dies

For more than two decades, Chester Nez kept silent about his role as one of the original Navajo code talkers responsible for developing an unbreakable code during World War II.

His death Wednesday at his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at age 93 was lamented by the Marine Corps as the end of an era — for both the country and its armed forces.

"We mourn his passing but honor and celebrate the indomitable spirit and dedication of those Marines who became known as the Navajo code talkers," the Marines said in a statement.

Nez was the last remaining of the original 29 Navajos recruited by the Marine Corps to develop the legendary code that was used for vital communications during battle.

(From CNN)

Four Marines after taking over the job of being the foster mothers to a pack of puppies after their real mother, after being left behind by the Japanese, gave birth to a litter of 13 and was unable to care for them.

From left to right: 2nd Lt. G.H. Hoffman Jr., Corporal Louis R. Bonini, Corporal Edward J. Frankenbech, and Master Sergeant Harold “Porky” May.

Their recipe for raising good, healthy puppies—plenty of C rations. All four Marines and puppies were attached to an aviation group with 4th Marine Air Wing.

“Perched on the rim of a gaping hole in the wall of a theater in the Ryukyu capital, a Marine rifleman views the result of the American bombardment of Naha, Okinawa, Japan, on June 13, 1945. Structure skeletons are all that remain of the city with a pre-invasion population of 443,000 people.”


“As Americans of the U.S. 25th Division advance over ground at the edge of Balete Pass in northern Luzon, Philippines on April 12, 1945, they pass a dead Japanese soldier, fallen across a bomb-splintered tree.”


“U.S. invasion forces establish a beachhead on Okinawa island, about 350 miles from the Japanese mainland, on April 13. 1945. Pouring out war supplies and military equipment, the landing crafts fill the sea to the horizon, in the distance, battleships of the U.S. fleet.”