Our Iwo Jima: War in the Pacific Tour is a transformative experience!
Travel with our historians to the islands where the battles raged during the War in the Pacific, where “Uncommon valor was a common virtue.” Our experts in WWII history will discuss the American and Japanese strategies and how these strategies actually played out on the Pacific islands of Hawaii, Saipan, Tinian, Guam and Iwo Jima.
Our Iwo Jima Tour is the most comprehensive War in the Pacific Tour. We visit Battleship Row at Pearl Harbor where the Japanese attacked on December 7, 1941 and the remains of the sunken USS Arizona rests. We explore the invasion beaches of Saipan where hundreds of Japanese jumped to their deaths. We travel to Titian, which is where the departure airfield for the Enola Gay and the atomic bomb was located. We learn about the battle sites on Guam, key in the story of the Navajo Indian code talkers role and also the site of the War Dog Memorial. We experience the emotion of climbing Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima, where the American flag was raised to symbolize victory on Iwo Jima, an iconic image forever etched in our minds.
With its three airfields, Iwo Jima was ideally located as a fighter-escort station. It was also an ideal sanctuary for crippled bombers returning from Japan.
- The U.S. Air Force fought in the longest sustained aerial offensive of the war.
- More Marines were sent to Iwo Jima than to any other battle.
- More medals for heroism were awarded for action on Iwo Jima than any battle in the history of the U.S.
This is only an inkling of the history you will learn as you island hop through the War in the Pacific.
Our tour will begin at the Welcome Reception and Dinner at the Honolulu hotel. Meet the Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours staff, as well as other tour participants.
Ford Island is the centerpiece of the Pearl Harbor National Historic Landmark District and adjacent to Battleship Row. The original airfield, air tower, WWII hangars, a collection of bungalows and officers’ housing remain on the site.
Battleship Row, home to the USS Arizona Memorial, is built over the remains of the sunken battleship USS Arizona, the final resting place for many of the 1,177 crewmen killed on December 7, 1941. The loss of life on this “Day of Infamy” became the focal point for a nation that was previously divided over the issue of involvement in the war.
The group will visit the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific and the Honolulu Memorial, referred to as the Punchbowl. Located in Puowaina Crater, roughly translated, “Puowaina” means “Hill of Sacrifice.” Here we will hear an overview of the entire Pacific War.
Saipan and Tinian
The capture of Saipan was one of the turning points of the war in the Pacific. Following Japan’s surrender in 1945, Vice Admiral Shigeyoshi Miwa of the Japanese Navy said, “Our war was lost with the loss of Saipan.”
In Saipan, our group will visit the Invasion Beaches and battle sites of Operation Forager. Our historians will discuss the combat between the Americans and the Japanese during the 24 days it took to secure the island. Names that testified to the bitter fighting were given, such as Death Valley, Purple Heart Ridge and Harakiri Gulch, where the last major battle of the island occurred.
We will visit Aslito Airfield, as well as Mount Topotchau, and Marpi Point. It was at Marpi Point that hundreds of Japanese civilian families jumped to their deaths. Droves of Japanese soldiers also committed suicide at the many cliffs around Saipan, either jumping to their death, or by grenade.
Tinian is perhaps most famous for being the departure site for atomic bomb. The USS Indianapolis, prior to its departure for the Philippines, delivered this secret cargo to Tinian. Our historians will talk about the USS Indianapolis, the sinking of the ship and survival of the crew in the shark-infested waters. While in Tinian, we will spend some time focusing on the Tinian airport, which in 1945, was perhaps the busiest and largest in the world. At North Field, look for the plaques that mark the location of the bomb loading pits for the “Enola Gay” and “Bocks Car.”
Our study of Guam will begin with the Invasion Beaches, Asan and Agat beaches. These two invasion beaches, separated by the Orote Peninsula, are located six miles apart, on the west central coast of Guam.
Asan Point is a primary visitor area where the overall story of the Pacific War is told by means of museum exhibits. Historic sites, including a number of gun emplacements, caves, foxholes and pillboxes are located within the Asan Beach Unit. Gaan Point, at the center of Agat Beach, is another place of interest, which also contains many WWII sites and structures. The beach and offshore area here are relatively unspoiled and provides a good impression of how they looked in 1944.
One interesting aspect of the recapture of Guam was the role played by the Navajo Indian servicemen, who operated the radios openly conversing in their native tongue, unknown to the Japanese. This successful tactic completely baffled the Japanese, who expected to hear coded English. Another interesting place to visit in Guam is The War Dog Memorial. Located on the Naval Facility, it honors the Dobermans that served with the Marines in 1944 and who were killed in action performing duties such as leading scouting parties, exploring caves and serving as sentries.
After an early breakfast at the hotel, the group will gather and take a charter flight to Iwo Jima. Iwo Jima, with its three airfields, was ideally located as a fighter-escort station; it was also an ideal sanctuary for crippled bombers returning from Japan. The U.S. Air Force fought in the longest sustained aerial offensive of the war, and more Marines were sent to Iwo Jima than to any other battle. More medals for heroism were awarded for action on Iwo Jima than any battle in the history of the U.S. Our historians will discuss the American and Japanese strategies and the bloody battle that ensued for 36 days as we tour Iwo Jima. It is atop Mt. Suribachi that the flag was raised, indicating victory on Iwo Jima. It is this picture that is etched in our minds as we remember Iwo Jima, “Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue.”
Our last day in Guam will be a free morning to recover and reflect from yesterday’s trip to Iwo Jima. Our tour will conclude that evening at a Farewell Dinner, hosted by the 3rd Marine Corps Division Association Guam.