In the Pacific from 1942-1945 when US carrier based planes were launching airstrikes against the Japanese fleet, a young American fighter pilot was being strapped into his plane preparing for take off. He was suddenly asked “How do you feel about taking off on this plane?” He replied “I’m sweating because I know what I have to do. We’re at war and if it takes my life to win this war, I’m taking off on this plane”.
Another carrier based fighter pilot, who was the top hero at the time was asked “What’s it like attacking a cruiser?” And his answer was, “Have you ever looked into a blast furnace?” He went on to say “If you thought about all the terrible things that could happen, you wouldn’t be able to survive- I don’t think. So you had to harden yourself- otherwise you’d go all to pieces.”
Another fighter pilot was asked if he was afraid during combat, he said although he was, you didn’t have time to think about your fears during actual combat- you were too busy doing what you had to do, that everything else was put to the back of your mind. It was only afterwards (if you were lucky enough to survive) that you started to think about all those things.
Above all, the Pacific war was mainly a carrier war. The battles fought between the opposing Japanese and US fleets were usually decided entirely by naval air power, launching air strikes against each other. Very rarely was it a fleet versus fleet engagement. Usually the two fleets remained hundreds of miles apart, and often didn’t even sight one another.
Another US Navy gunner on board an aircraft carrier who came under Kamikaze attack several times said “Just when we thought we were safe, the Japanese would suddenly appear in the sky out of nowhere. In the Army you can dig a hole, but in the Navy, you can’t dig in steel. That flat deck was open and wide. So you jumped into the catwalk and there may have been someone underneath you already. You were praying you would survive whatever kind of explosion would come about. Your whole life flashed in front of you, because you didn’t know whether it would be seconds or minutes until your life would be snuffed out.”
In April 1945, under Kamikaze attack, American casualties were so severe that at one point, the invasion of Okinawa was almost stopped in its tracks. But they persevered, and in the end, because of courage, persistence, self-less sacrifice, bravery beyond the call of duty, they achieved ultimate victory. God bless them.