The first major turning point in the Pacific War was the naval battle at strategic Midway Island . It had been preceded by the 18 April 1942 air attack on Toyko known as the “Doolittle Raid” which prompted the Japanese naval attack on the island. On 25 May 1942 , the Second Carrier Force under the command of Rear Admiral Kakuta Kakuji set out on a feint against the Aleutians with carriers, cruisers, and destroyers. The Japanese plan employed all available units of the Combined Fleet under the command of Admiral Yamamoto. Japanese naval forces from Saipan and the Inland Sea meanwhile headed for the central Pacific in hopes of surprising the outnumbered American naval garrison at Midway.
Unbeknowst to the Japanese the Americans has learned of the impending operation and its real target by intercepting Japanese communciations and having broken their secret codes. They set in motion a surprise countermove with naval forces from Pearl Harbor, San Diego, and the Aleutians.
Admiral Raymond Spruance commanding the American Task Force 16 left Pearl Harbor on 28 May 1942 with two carriers, five heavy cruisers, and vaious support ships. With the American forces from the Aleutians , San Diego , and the USS Yorktown newly repaired after the Coral Sea battle in the South Pacific, the engagement was a major US victory.
The tide of the Pacific War turned and along with this change came a new role for Micronesia. The Americans seized the initiative with attacks on the Japanese within Micronesia as well as outside it. The first major counter attacks into Micronesia were the landings at Tarawa in November 1943, and the US Pacific Fleet’s capture of Kwajalein in November 1943, and the US Pacific Fleet’s capture of Kwajalein, Wotje, Jaluit, and Maloelap in the Marshalls in February 1944.
The Japanese had responded to their defeat at Midway with a build up in the Marshalls and Gilberts. Reinforcements were rushed to Truk Lagoon. Admiral Yamamoto has established the headquarters of the Combined Fleet there in the summer of 1942, but he himself disappeared during an inpection tour in Melanesia; shot down by American figher planes in the northern Solomon Islands on 18 April 1943.
Dirk Anthony Ballendorf