By Lawrence Spinetta
Although accounts of the defense of Henderson Field on Guadalcanal typically focus on Marine Corps air and ground units, the contributions of the Army Air Forces were also vital to victory.
“Why the hell do we want to take some little place nobody’s ever heard of?” complained a young U.S. Marine preparing for an August 7, 1942, amphibious assault on Guadalcanal, one of six islands in the Solomon chain in the South Pacific. The island’s geographic obscurity had led the leatherneck to dismiss its strategic value. But the six-month campaign that followed reversed the course of the Pacific War.
The outcome was anything but assured. Immediately following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese forces overwhelmed the Philippines, Thailand, Malaya, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies, Wake Island, New Britain, the Gilbert Islands and Guam.