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WWII History Uncovered

Calling all history enthusiasts!

Each week, we’ll share stories related to World War II and aviation. From historical movies, books and speeches to photos and artifacts, there is always something new to discover.

Check This Out / Listen To This / Watch This / Explore Our Collection / Explore Our Blog

Check This Out:

Battle of Philippine Sea

Two Historic Pacific War Battles

This week in history was notable for two important WWII battles. On June 19-20, 1944, the U.S. eliminated the Japanese Navy’s ability to conduct large scale carrier actions in the Battle of the Philippine Sea, otherwise known as the Marianas Turkey Shoot.

About one year later, on June 22, 1945, the last major battle of Word War II, the Battle of Okinawa, came to an end. Although it resulted in an Allied victory, both sides suffered enormous losses, marking it as one of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific Theater.


Flag Day

Flag Day and U.S. Army 245th Birthday

On June 14, 1775, the Continental Army was created as a unified fighting force against its colonial oppressors. Today, 245 years later, members of the U.S. Army continue to defend and protect America by answering the call to serve.

Exactly two years after the formation of the Army, on June 14, 1777, a resolution was passed stating: “Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation.”

This was the first “American” flag, which became a new symbol of freedom for our young nation — a symbol that we continue to honor today and everyday.


Battle of Midway photos

Battle of Midway Photo Collection

On June 4, 1942, the decisive Battle of Midway began. Just six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan devised a plan to defeat the U.S. Pacific Fleet in a surprise attack aimed at the Allied base at Midway Island. Check out these photos of this epic battle from the Naval History & Heritage Command.


Five questions with project recover

5 Questions With Project Recover

Project Recover is a collaborative effort to enlist 21st century science and technology in a quest to find and repatriate Americans missing in action since WWII.

Their work “blends historical data from many different sources to optimize underwater search areas with scanning sonar, high definition and thermal cameras, advanced diving and unmanned aerial and underwater robotic technologies.”

Read this fascinating Q&A blog with Director of Project Recover, Dr. Pat Scannon.


5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Attack on Pearl Harbor

We all know about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, killing 2,403 service members and launching the U.S. into World War II — but did you know while military forces worked to rebuild Pearl Harbor in the weeks following, the Japanese initiated a plan to attack Oahu for a second time?

This short clip reveals five things you didn’t know about the attack on Pearl Harbor.


Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) of WWII

Organized in September 1942 as a way to free up more male pilots for combat roles abroad, the WASPs worked as test pilots, flight instructors and ferry pilots that transported planes off the assembly line and to Army bases around the country and abroad.

This incredible online WASP exhibit, created by the National Women’s History Museum, uncovers the unique history of this pioneering force of brave women


75th Anniversary of V-E Day Video Tribute

Watch this special V-E Day video tribute to those who served on the front lines of WWII. Award winning broadcast journalist David Hartman introduces you to Veterans 75 Years later. Hear their stories.


Ansel Adams Photos of Japanese-American Interment at Manzanar

These photos taken by one of America’s most well-known photographers, Ansel Adams, reveal the daily life of hundreds of Japanese-Americans interned at the Manzanar War Relocation Center in California in 1943.


Hollandia Landing: Actual Footage

The Battle of Hollandia (code-named Operation Reckless) began on April 22, 1944, with Army forces landing on 3 beachheads near Hollandia, New Guinea. Within four days, the airfields at these beachheads were in American hands and the U.S. had secured 175 miles of the northern New Guinea coast.


Leave A Message For A Veteran

The Friends of the National World War II Memorial are asking you to remember our “Greatest Generation” during this challenging time for our nation and the world, by leaving a message of encouragement or appreciation for a veteran. This simple and rewarding gesture might just make the day of our veteran heroes.


USS Bowfin Submarine

Take a deeper dive into Pearl Harbor history by checking out our Pearl Harbor Historic Site partner, USS Bowfin Submarine and Park. The USS Bowfin (SS-287) is a fleet attack submarine that fought in the Pacific during WWII. Launched on Dec. 7, 1942, exactly one year after the attack on Pearl Harbor, she was nicknamed the Pearl Harbor Avenger. Learn more about the history of the Bowfin on their website and Facebook page.


Rarely Seen WWII Photos

This collection of World War II combat photos taken by Edward Steichen and his colleagues will leave you speechless. Get a glimpse into what life was like for service members during the war and gain new perspective through incredible photos of historic battles in the Pacific Theater.

Listen To This:

“Surviving the Battle of Okinawa” Memoir

Follow along as World War II Marine,Ted Estridge, recalls his experience from the Battle of Okinawa, known for being the deadliest battle in the Pacific War.


Boy with flag

Short Clip: The 50 Star Flag

Did you know the current 50 star American Flag was designed as a school project? Click below to meet the creator, Bob Heft, and find out the full story.


Short Clip: Dick Girocco

Listen to late Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum volunteer and Pearl Harbor survivor Dick Girocco recount the first 12 seconds of the attack.


V-E Day Commemoration Playlist

A powerful selection of nostalgic wartime music from some of the world’s best-loved singers to help you celebrate V-E Day 75.

Charles E. McGee Oral History

Retired Brigadier General Charles E. McGee tells of his time as a soldier in three wars. McGee fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, and holds the record for the highest three-war total of fighter combat missions of any pilot in U.S. Air Force history. His military service began as one of the Tsukegee Airmen in the 332nd Fighter Group, famed pioneers who fought racial prejudices to fly and fight for their country in WWII.


Louis Zamperini Oral History

Italian-American Olympian Louis Zamperini spent 47 days floating on a raft at sea after a near-fatal plane crash over the Pacific. He was captured by the Japanese and became a Prisoner of War. Listen to his story in his own words.


Richard E. Cole Oral History

Listen to Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” E. Cole recount his experience as copilot to Jimmy Doolittle during the Doolittle Raid in this incredible oral history captured by The National WWII Museum.


“Man-On-The-Street” Interviews

These recordings will transport you back into time. On Dec. 8, 1941, the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, fieldworkers in ten different localities across the U.S. were sent out to collect “man-on-the-street” reactions of ordinary Americans to the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the subsequent declaration of war by the United States.


Top Music Hits of 1942

Music played a big role in the lives of Americans, both soldiers and civilians, during World War II. It was the first major conflict to take place in the age of electronically distributed mass music. From the Bing Crosby classic “White Christmas” to Glenn Miller’s “(I’ve got a gal in) Kalamazoo” and Kay Kyser’s “Praise The Lord & Pass The Ammunition,” Swing and Big Band music provided a source of joy and an escape from the woes of war.

“Day of Infamy” Speech

We’ve all heard of it, but have you actually listened to it? On December 8th, 1941, the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his declaration of war address to Congress and to the nation. He called the surprise attack, a “date which will live in infamy.”


Watch This:

Movie Night: Hacksaw Ridge

This film focuses on the real life experiences of Desmond Doss, an American combat medic who refused to use any kind of weapon while serving in WWII. Doss was later awarded the Medal of Honor for his service during the Battle of Okinawa. Available for purchase on Amazon, YouTube or DVD.


Movie Night: MIDWAY

This Hollywood blockbuster, based on the real-life events of this heroic feat, tells the story of the leaders and soldiers of this epic battle. Available for purchase on Amazon, YouTube or DVD.


Video: How Did the Battle of Midway Happen?

Watch this detailed video about the decisive battle that turned the tide of the war, as told from the Japanese perspective.


PBS NOVA: Identifying Lost Crew with Forensics and DNA Analysis

Watch as forensic archaeologists use DNA analysis to identify the lost crew of a WWII B-24 Liberator Bomber.


Sunken Roads: D-Day Movie

“Sunken Roads: Three Generations After D-Day”

Don McCarthy was 20 years old on D-Day, when his infantry division landed on Omaha Beach in 1944. In “Sunken Roads,” 20-year old filmmaker Charlotte Juergens joins Don and seven other D-Day veterans on a journey back to France — a commemorative pilgrimage to Omaha Beach for the anniversary of the invasion.

Don’t wait! This film will be available to watch for 18 days only – the sneak preview ends on Sunday, June 21.


Pearl harbor Attack footage

Rare Pearl Harbor Attack Footage

Watch this very rare footage of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 from the Navy History and Heritage Command.


Biography: Amelia Earhart

Watch this biography about the accomplished female pilot who mysteriously disappeared somewhere over the Pacific in 1937.


Short Clip: Bessie Coleman

Watch how “Brave Bessie” became the first African American woman to earn a pilot’s license and discover her journey to becoming a stunt pilot.


Winston Churchill’s V-E Day Announcement

Watch Winston Churchill’s broadcast officially announcing the end of the war in Europe on May 8, 1945.


Honouliuli: Hawaii’s Hidden Internment Camp

Have you heard of Honoluliuli? By March 1943, the internment camp that spanned 160 acres on Oahu’s west side became the largest POW camp in Hawaii. Watch this short video Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii to learn more.


Unbroken, The Unbelievable True Story

A powerful true story based on Olympian Louis Zamperini’s harrowing experience during WWII. He survived in a raft for 47 days after a near-fatal plane crash in WWII—only to be caught by the Japanese Navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp.


How the U.S. Killed Admiral Yamamoto

Exactly one year after the Doolittle Raid, the U.S. launched Operation Vengeance to kill the mastermind behind the attack on Pearl Harbor. Watch The Potillo Expedition: Mystery on Bougainville Island by Tim Gray and The WWII Foundation, following a crew of explorers to Bougainville, New Guinea to visit the remote site of the plane wreck of famed Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto’s crashed Betty Bomber.


Doolittle’s Raiders

Many of the names of the 80 flyers who took part in the April 18, 1942 raid on Japan may not be familiar to most, but collectively they will always be known in history as the Doolittle Raiders. Long ago these American flyers, aboard 16 B-25 bombers, had accomplished a daring mission that changed the morale of an entire nation.


Warbirds in Review 2019

Watch 14 hours of FREE premium aviation content from the EAA Warbirds of America. “Warbirds in Review” presents legendary pilots and military aircraft of the past 75 years. See aviation legends such as Bud Anderon, Bob Hoover, Patrick Brady and others up close with aircraft types they flew in combat, testing or training.


4-4-43: Lt. Col. William Edwin Dyess and The Greatest Story of the War in the Pacific

As we approach National Former POW Recognition Day on April 9, we’d like to share 4-4-43: Lt. Col. William Edwin Dyess and The Greatest Story of the War in the Pacific, the true story of ten American prisoners of war and two Filipino convicts who escaped from one of Japan’s most notorious prison camps.


Lifeline: Pearl Harbor’s Unknown Hero

This captivating documentary film by Tim Gray and the World War II Foundation reveals the story of Joe George, a Pearl Harbor hero who remained nameless until decades after the attack. George saved six sailors from the USS Arizona during the attack by throwing a line from the nearby USS Vestal.

Explore The Museum:

SBD Dauntless

Douglas SBD Dauntless Dive Bomber

This aircraft is best remembered as the bomber that delivered fatal blows to Japanese carriers in the Battle of Midway.


F-4c phantom

F-4C Phantom II

In its air-to-ground role, the F-4C could carry twice the payload of a World War II B-17.


The bombs of the second wave

The Bombs of the Second Wave

On Dec. 7, 1941 at 8:50 a.m., just minutes after the first wave ended, a second wave of Japanese planes arrived at Pearl Harbor.


Douglas C-47 “Cheeky Charlie”

The Douglas C-47 has been lovingly referred to as America’s do-anything go-anywhere WWII airplane. The versatile Douglas C-47 could be used for troop and cargo transport, dropping paratroops, towing a glider, medical evacuation, and virtually any other task assigned to it.


Doolittle Raid Aircraft #13

Read this riveting firsthand account from the pilot of aircraft #13 of the famed Doolittle Raid. He flew one of the 16 B-25 bombers that avenged Pearl Harbor on April 18, 1942.


“You Are There”

The Museum may be closed, but you can still explore our grounds through “You Are There,” a series of signage that shares interesting highlights from this National Historic Landmark. Located on Ford Island in hangars that withstood the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Museum tells the stories of aviation in the Pacific and pays tribute to the aviators who defended freedom.


The Zero

When American pilots first encountered the Zero, they were stunned. The Zero had nearly complete initial dominance, which is sometimes attributed to its high speed. In reality, however, the Zero was rather modest in straight-line speed, with a maximum speed of about 317 to 332 mph.


The Flying Tigers

Have you heard of the Flying Tigers? After the attack on Pearl Harbor and the string of Japanese victories across Asia and the Pacific that followed, U.S. morale was at rock bottom. That was until a group of 100 pilots hired by the Chinese made their mark defending Burma and China in P-40 Warhawks nicknamed “Flying Tigers.”


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