In 1942, Imperial Japan invaded Singapore and took 25,000 prisoners.
Next was the Philippines.
With Imperial Japan's relentless bombardment by planes and heavy siege guns, President Roosevelt did not want General Douglas MacArthur captured, so he ordered him to leave Corregidor, Philippines, and evacuate to Australia.
General Douglas MacArthur obeyed, March 11, 1942, but not without promising, "I shall return."
During Imperial Japan's occupation of the Philippines, they forced 60,000 Filipino and American prisoners on the horrible 60 mile Bataan Death March, where over 10,000 died.
Imperial Japanese soldiers treated enemies who surrendered with disdain, as they held the samurai mindset, similar to modern-day Islamic suicide bombers, wherein it was more honorable to die in battle, or even commit harakiri suicide, rather than be captured alive.
Hearing of the casualties of the Bataan Death March, General Douglas MacArthur stated, April 9, 1942:
"To the weeping mothers of its dead, I can only say that the sacrifice and halo of Jesus of Nazareth has descended upon their sons, and that God will take them unto Himself."
The turning point in the Pacific War began JUNE 4, 1942, in the Battle of Midway.
The day before, the Japanese attacked the strategic Aleutian Islands of Attu and Kiska, nearly 1,400 miles west of Anchorage, Alaska.
This was the only U.S. land that the Japanese captured.
It was considered a diversionary attack to draw the U.S. Navy north.
The U.S. Navy did not get diverted because American code-breakers were able to decipher Imperial Japan's real plans to capture Midway Island, then Hawaii and the rest of the Pacific.
The outnumbered U.S. Pacific Fleet attempted an ambush of the Imperial Japanese armada.
Japanese scouting planes spotted the American fleet, but a series of mishaps prevented them from radioing the information back to their fleet.
The Imperial Japanese fleet suddenly changed its course, resulting in the American bombers searching for it in vain.
As the time wore on, many American escort fighters ran out of fuel and had to ditch in the ocean.
Lieutenant-Commander John Waldron led a torpedo bomber squadron from the U.S. carrier Hornet to attack the Japanese carriers.
Waldron told his men the night before:
"My greatest hope is that we encounter a favorable tactical situation, but if we don't, I want each of us to do our utmost to destroy the enemies. If there is only one plane to make a final run in, I want that man to go in and get a hit. May God be with us."
Waldron's squadron was the first to spot the Imperial Japanese fleet.
Flying in at low altitude, they suffered the full focus of the Imperial Japanese defenses.
Out of 30 of Waldron's men who took off that morning, only one survived.
Their sacrifice was not in vain, though, as it benefited American dive-bomber squadrons from the U.S. carriers Enterprise and Yorktown, who arrived about an hour later, flying at a much higher altitude.
Navigating by guess and by God, and running low on fuel, Squadron Commander C. Wade McClusky, Jr. decided to continue the search.
Through a break in the clouds, they providentially spotted the wake of the Japanese destroyers and followed it to find the Japanese aircraft carriers: Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, and Hiryu.
This was at the precise moment when most of the Imperial Japanese "Zero" fighter planes were busy being refueled and rearmed after fighting Waldron's squadron, or had just taken off to attack the U.S. carrier Yorktown.
In just five minutes, the screeching American dive-bombers sank three Imperial Japanese carriers, and a fourth shortly after.
In just moments, Imperial Japan's naval force had been cut in half.
In an instant, they were forced to be on the defensive for the rest of the war.
Chicago's Midway Airport was named as a memorial to this battle.
Chicago's O'Hare Airport was named for the Pacific War hero, Lieutenant Commander Edward “Butch” O’Hare.
O'Hare, on February 20, 1942, single-handedly attacked nine heavy Japanese bombers, saving the aircraft carrier Lexington.
He was awarded the Medal of Honor by Franklin Roosevelt. The next year, O'Hare was shot down and never found.
After the Battle of Midway, plans were begun to free the Philippines.
President Roosevelt said, August 12, 1943:
"Three weeks after the armies of the Japanese launched their attack on Philippine soil, I sent a proclamation ... to the people of the Philippines ... that their freedom will be redeemed ...
The great day of your liberation will come, as surely as there is a God in Heaven."
On October 20, 1944, General Douglas MacArthur returned to the Philippines with U.S. troops, stating:
"People of the Philippines: I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God our forces stand again on Philippine soil -- soil consecrated in the blood of our two peoples.
We have come, dedicated and committed to the task of destroying every vestige of enemy control ... The hour of your redemption is here ...
... Let the indomitable spirit of Bataan and Corregidor lead on ...
Let no heart be faint. Let every arm be steeled. The guidance of Divine God points the way.
Follow in His name to the Holy Grail of righteous victory!"
The same day, President Roosevelt sent a message to General MacArthur:
"The whole American Nation today exults at the news that the gallant men under your command have landed on Philippine soil.
I know well what this means to you. I know what it cost you to obey my order that you leave Corregidor in February, 1942, and proceed to Australia ...
... That day has come. You have the Nation's gratitude and the Nation's prayers for success as you and your men fight your way back to Bataan."
President Roosevelt sent the message to Philippine President Osmena, October 20, 1944:
"On this occasion of the return of General MacArthur to Philippine soil with our airmen, our soldiers, and our sailors, we renew our pledge.
We and our Philippine brothers in arms - with the help of Almighty God - will drive out the invader; we will destroy his power to wage war again, and we will restore a world of dignity and freedom."
Fighter pilot Pappy Boyington of the Baa Baa Black Sheep Squadron, shot down 26 enemy aircraft, tying Eddie Rickenbacker's WWI record.
On January 3, 1944, Boyington was one of 30 American fights engaging 70 Japanese fighters, when he was shot down.
He described the inhumane prisoner conditions in his autobiography, Baa Baa Black Sheep, published in 1958.
While at the Ōfuna Prison Camp, Boyington met another American downed pilot, former Olympic distance runner Louis Zamperini.
After the war, Zamperini wrote in his book Devil at My Heels:
“I think the hardest thing in life is to forgive. Hate is self destructive. If you hate somebody, you're not hurting the person you hate, you're hurting yourself. It's a healing, actually, it's a real healing ... forgiveness.”
"... (I asked and) I waited. And then, true to His promise, He came into my heart and my life. The moment was more than remarkable; it was the most realistic experience I'd ever had.
I'm not sure what I expected; perhaps my life or my sins or a great white light would flash before my eyes; perhaps I'd feel a shock like being hit by a bolt of lightning.
Instead, I felt no tremendous sensation, just a weightlessness and an enveloping calm that let me know that Christ had come into my heart.”
“God has given me so much. He expects so much out of me.”
Another inspiring story is that of American airman Jacob DeShazer who was captured after flying in the Doolittle Raid, April 18, 1942.
He was suffered painfully as a prisoner, yet during that time, something happened.
He forgave his captors and after the war became a Christian missionary to Japan.
DeShazer's writing was instrumental in changing the life of a Japanese pilot, Mitsuo Fuchida, who had attacked Pearl Harbor.
Fuchida wrote in his biography From Pearl Harbor to Calvary (1953):
"DeShazer ... returned to Japan as a missionary. And his story, printed in pamphlet form, was something I could not explain ...
I decided to purchase (a Bible) myself, despite my traditionally Buddhist heritage ... In the ensuing weeks, I read this book eagerly.
I came to the climactic drama - the Crucifixion. I read in Luke 23:34 the prayer of Jesus Christ at His death: 'Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do' ..."
"I was certainly one of those for whom He had prayed. The many men I had killed had been slaughtered in the name of patriotism, for I did not understand the love which Christ wishes to implant within every heart.
Right at that moment, I seemed to meet Jesus for the first time. I understood the meaning of His death as a substitute for my wickedness, and so in prayer, I requested Him to forgive my sins and change me from a bitter, disillusioned ex-pilot into a well-balanced Christian with purpose in living."
In 1959, Jacob DeShazer moved back to Japan and started a Christian church in Nagoya, the very city he had bombed during the Doolitte Raid.
DeShazer admitted to having been an atheist when he was first captured and made a prisoner of war.
He related how he was appreciative of a Japanese prison guard who secretly lent him a Bible:
"I could have it only for three weeks. I eagerly began to read its pages.
I discovered that God had given me new spiritual eyes and that when I looked at the enemy officers and guards who had starved and beaten my companions and me so cruelly, I found my bitter hatred for them changed to loving pity.
I realized that these people did not know anything about my Savior and that if Christ is not in a heart, it is natural to be cruel.”
After reading Romans 10:9, DeShazer wrote:
“Boy, that hit me! It was the best news I’d ever heard in my life.
There are just two things: you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart.
And I did! I believed at that time — and I do yet — it’s God’s Word. I believe heaven came down there in that prison cell.”
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