Saipan Photo Album

By Cpl. Bill Hoover, USMC

Note from Editor: These pictures are too important to settle for normal poor quality Internet viewing. Click on any picture to see a full-size version with the most resolution your screen is capable of reproducing. This may take a minute or two to load the first time but it is worth it! NOTE! Some of these pictures are grim and not for the faint-at-heart. They show war with nothing left to the imagination. These are NOT Hollywood special effects.

This picture was taken after Tinian. My platoon but not my tank.

This is an Armored Amphibian Tank. Our 2nd Armored Amphibian Tank Battalion was the first to mount 75mm guns in a open turret. Prior to this, they had 37mm guns which were not effective against bunkers or even Japanese tanks. I was the 75mm gunner. My secondary weapon was a 30cal machine gun, and a "toy" 30cal Carbine. This was very effective — if used as a club.

 My Platoon but not my tank
Official USMC Combat Photo

 The 1st wave
Official USMC Combat Photo
 The first wave of infantry to hit the beach — these guys were killed while trying to get ashore.

These were the very same Jap light tanks that had me pinned down (see story on the preceding page) They came back to the beach (stupid move) right after I made it back to our lines. Our lines at that point were only about 25 feet off the beach. Both tanks are pictured here. They always worked in pairs — and got blown up in pairs! Both were knocked out by bazookas.

Jap Tanks that had me pinned
Official USMC Combat Photo

 Hit by shrapnel
Official USMC Combat Photo
A Marine just as he was hit by an Air burst from Jap artillery.

"1000-yard stare" already apparent! These men were from my outfit, and they had lost their tank to enemy fire. Now assigned to bring in dead Marines for identification. We never leave a dead or wounded Marine behind. Never have, never will.

Stretcher Bearers
Official USMC Combat Photo

Jumping off Tank
Official USMC Combat Photo
First wave of 2nd Division Infantry Marines hitting the beach. They came ashore in Amphibian Tractors.

  These guys were all from my company. They had lost their tank for one reason or another. Except for Terwilliger who was the C.P.* on my tank, I don't know who any of the others are (yes, the same Terwilliger that played major league baseball after the war -- facing camera). This picture was taken about H hour plus 4. We were under heavy mortar fire, artillery fire, and snipers.

Just as picture was taken, two Marines were hit by sniper fire. I'm the guy second from the right closest to the bushes.

*Communications Personnel. (in this case our radio operator.)

Up the beach under heavy fire
Official USMC Combat Photo

Jap Command Post 1999
Photo by Command Master Chief Craig Morey. Stationed aboard the USS Vandergrift. 
The Last Japanese Command post. It overlooked and commanded every inch of the beach from the hill. Photo taken in 1999.

Remaining piece of Japanese artillery. Still at the location of the last command post in 1999.

 Jap Shore Battery 1999
Photo by Command Master Chief Craig Morey. Stationed aboard the USS Vandergrift.



When it got daylight the next morning, every ship except the Hospital ship was gone. We were told that the entire Japanese Fleet was heading for Saipan, and our Navy went out to meet them. This was later known as the "Great Marianas Turkey Shoot." Navy and Marine Corps pilots destroyed most of their Carriers and Battleships and actually broke the back of their Naval Forces. It's been said that Japan felt that if it lost Saipan, the war was lost for them. IT WAS.

Editor's note: The ships were, indeed, gone. Although not apparent to the troops ashore, Admiral Raymond A. Spruance's prime objective was the protection of the Saipan invasion forces, in particular the valuable troop and supply transports. The largest carrier battle in history was taking place. Beginning on June 11, 1944, 15 fast carriers and 12 escort carriers of the U.S. 5th fleet destroyed 1223 Japanese aircraft and sank 110,000 tons of shipping.

He moved offshore for maneuvering room because he knew that enemy carriers might appear, but he would not be lured away from protecting the Saipan invasion beaches. He would not endanger his prime responsibility by chasing after the enemy.

The Japanese forces commanded by Admiral Ozawa attacked the American carriers in wave after wave. Fighter aircraft from Hornet and other carriers stopped all the attacks before the Japanese reached the task force. Nearly every Japanese aircraft was shot down in what became known as "The Marianas Turkey Shoot." Only 35 operational aircraft remained out of Ozawa's 430 planes (plus hundreds of land-based planes commanded by Admiral Kakuta). U.S. air strikes also sank the Japanese carrier Hiji and so damaged two tankers that they were abandoned and scuttled.

Cpl. Hoover was right! By the time the battle ended. Japan sustained an irreversible defeat. While losing only 22 fighters and 60 men, Spruance had removed Japanese carriers as a factor in the war.


Daybreak on SAIPAN. Click here to read another comment on seeing the ships all gone on the morning after the invasion! This one from Norman Gertz,
Colonel USMC (Ret)

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