Island Hopping: Footholds Across the Pacific

Road to Tokyo: Pacific Theater Galleries
Island Hopping gallery, Road to Tokyo

Daring amphibious landings, deadly obstacles on treacherous beaches, massive human cost, and an uncertain outcome—this D-Day narrative was repeated hundreds of times over in the Pacific, as American troops inched closer to Japan. The US “island hopping” strategy targeted key islands and atolls to capture and equip with airstrips, bringing B-29 bombers within range of the enemy homeland, while hopping over strongly defended islands, cutting off supply lanes and leaving them to wither. But progress was never simple: With every beach came new terrain with unpredictable challenges, a firmly entrenched hidden enemy, and another desperate battle to establish one more foothold. As US forces closed in on Japan, battle often meant encounters with terrified civilians who would rather die than surrender—and the dubious prize of being able to “hop” forward and begin the grueling cycle all over again. In this serpentine gallery, a realistic beachscape recreates a landing site on the island of Tarawa. Other exhibits describe the integrated effort between sea, land, and air, as well as successes in intelligence (Native American code talkers), technology (the long-range B-29 Bomber), and carrier warfare (the Marianas Turkey Shoot) in the fight for control of the skies. 

Made possible through a gift from James S. McDonnell Family Foundation & Mr. and Mrs. James S. McDonnell III, A. James and Alice B. Clark Foundation, with additional support by Disabled Veterans of LA Chapter 4, Inc. & Auxiliary