The Asia/Pacific region saw bitter fighting throughout World War 2. American forces waged an all-arms war against Japanese Imperial forces on land and sea and in the air. Today there are many regions that were the scene of historic actions and can be visited as a tribute to thousands of men who died. We can design a customized itinerary to any of the following regions. Please contact us for full details and suggested itineraries.
Guam was occupied by Japanese forces in December 1941, immediately following the attack on Pearl Harbor. In July 1944, US forces invaded the island and wrenched it from the Japanese after three weeks of heavy fighting. More than 10,000 Americans were killed or wounded during the battle.
There are many World War 2 sites on the islands of Japan. Okinawa saw bitter fighting late in the war, and the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were devastated by nuclear attacks in 1945. The capital Tokyo also contains memorials and museums to the conflict. The island of Iwo Jima was the scene of a brutal battle in February 1945, but today the island remains a military base and access is extremely limited. Only veterans and their families may visit the island on one allocated day per year.
This tiny island nation (part of the Gilbert Islands during the war) is famous for the savage Battle of Tarawa which took place in November 1943. Nearly 4000 Americans were killed or wounded securing the island. Today the scenes of their sacrifice can be visited.
The Korean War was waged in the mountains of North and South Korea between 1950 and 1953. Although more than 50,000 Americans were killed during the conflict, Korea is often referred to as the ‘Forgotten War’, reflecting a lack of knowledge or interest from the general public. There are many sites of interest to visit in South Korea, but some American battlefields are located in North Korea and are therefore inaccessible.
The islands of Saipan and Tinian were captured from the Japanese as part of the US island-hopping strategy in mid-1944. More than 15,000 Americans were killed or wounded during the two campaigns, and there are many interesting sites that can be visited on both islands. After the battle, Tinian became an important base for B-29 bombers which daily attacked Japan, and it was here that the atomic bombs which destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki were loaded onto the attack aircraft. The bomb bays where they were loaded have been preserved and can be visited.
This small Pacific nation is remembered in WW2 history for the Battle of Peleliu, fought in late-1944. During this horrific two-month struggle, more than 10,000 Americans were killed or wounded while attempting to gain control of a Japanese airfield on the island. The island was eventually secured, but the airfield was not used in later campaigns, casting doubt on the necessity of the entire operation. The US Marine Corps considers Peleliu as one of the most bloody battles in its history.
Papua New Guinea
American forces were involved in fighting in New Guinea throughout 1942 and 1943, often alongside comrades from Australia. The beachhead battles at Buna and Gona in late 1942 saw more than 5000 Americans killed or wounded, and the invasion of the island of Bougainville the following year saw the loss of another 3000. The islands of Papua New Guinea are isolated, but they can be visited by adventurous travelers.
The Philippines was an American colony before WW2, and it was seized by the Japanese immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor. It was retaken in 1944 after fierce naval battles and seaborne invasions, and today there are many battlefield sites on the nation’s islands.
The island nation of Singapore was invaded by the Japanese in 1942 and more than 80,000 Allied troops were captured, mostly British, Australians and New Zealanders. These men suffered terribly in Japanese prison camps for the rest of the war, and the majority did not survive. Today there are many sites from the war to visit in Singapore.
The Solomon Islands was the scene of the first major US operation of WW2, when Marines landed on the island of Guadalcanal. The Guadalcanal campaign became the longest of the Pacific War, and the island wasn’t secured for six months. Following the battle US forces continued to advance through the Solomon Islands. Two future US Presidents served in the Solomon Islands, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. There are many war sites that can be visited in this friendly island nation – please see our Guadalcanal Anniversary Tour for more information.
The Thai-Burma Railway was built by Allied prisoners under the brutal control of Japanese guards during the war. Thousands of men died during the construction of the railway, and memorials, museums and cemeteries remember them today.
The Vietnam War was one of the longest and most divisive conflicts in American history. Nearly 60,000 Americans died during the war, and today the country is a place of pilgrimage for veterans and their families. Please see our Vietnam section for full details about our tours.