During World War II (1939–45), the United States fought battles in several regions of the world. These regions were called theaters. Battles with the Japanese mostly occurred in the Pacific Theater, the waters and islands of the Pacific Ocean.
The battles in the Pacific Theater were difficult and costly for American forces. At first, American war efforts were focused on stopping the Germans in Europe, and American forces in the Pacific were expected to perform with less manpower and supplies. As a result, many American soldiers lost their lives. The major battles occurred on the islands of Midway, Bataan, Coral Sea, Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. (See Battle of Midway and Battle of Iwo Jima .)
Beginning in February 1943, however, the Americans began to force the Japanese back to Japan through an “island-hopping” campaign. The Americans concentrated their efforts and their few resources on one island at a time, advancing island by island, liberating each one from Japanese forces.
Progress was slow at first, but with time and determination the American forces advanced. More men and supplies became available as American troops also gained ground in Europe. By the fall of 1944, the Americans in the Pacific had pushed the Japanese back to the Philippines. They gathered full control of the islands by early 1945. American forces were then in position to attack Japan itself. By then, the Japanese forces were severely weakened and hardly fought back.
Through great skill and determination, the American troops in the Pacific overcame the lack of manpower and supplies to defeat the Japanese aggressors. The battles in the Pacific Theater are notable not only for their difficulty, but also for America's eventual successes in spite of the odds. The battles in the Pacific Theater came to an end in early August 1945 after the United States dropped atomic bombs on Japan's mainland cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Japan surrendered.